Bruce Willis squares off against a Bruce Willis-esque Joseph Gordon-Levitt in Looper, a time bending action-thriller that not only exceeds its lofty expectations, but serves up one of the best sci-fi stories of the last decade.
Looper is written and directed by Rian Johnson, best known for the criminally overlooked Brick, which also starred Joseph Gordon-Levitt. In Looper, Gordon-Levitt plays Joe, an assassin who kills people sent back in time by the mafia. It's a nice, easy and lucrative job.
Until his older self (Bruce Willis) is sent back to be killed, and escapes. Oops.
Looper is the most complex action-thriller since Inception and one of the most engaging since The Matrix. Both are great company to keep. The movie could have gone in many directions, but Johnson takes the audience down the best of rabbit holes. The multi-layered story grows stronger as time progresses, the film evolving from a fast-paced time travel flick into something deeper and more compelling. To say more would ruin what makes the movie so good, for Looper takes a few surprising and satisfying turns.
Action fans will be satisfied, even though Looper is more an action-drama than anything else. While there are some good action scenes, Johnson devotes considerable time to developing his characters, their emotions and their demons. The dynamic between Joe and Sara (Emily Blunt) is particularly interesting, their relationship far from the Hollywood stereotype. Thankfully, for the people who just want to see Bruce Willis kick ass, Looper has some of that, too.
To go into more detail would betray what makes Looper so good. Johnson's story is ambitious, exciting and best of all unpredictable. It isn't without a few small flaws, but none that make Looper any less of a must-see.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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