dir-scr Rian Johnson
prd Ram Bergman, James D Stern
with Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis, Emily Blunt, Jeff Daniels, Paul Dano, Piper Perabo, Pierce Gagnon, Garret Dillahunt, Xu Qing, Tracie Thoms, Marcus Hester, Nick Gomez
release US/UK 28.Sep.12
12/US 1h58
Being a looper is cool: Dano and Gordon-Levitt

willis blunt daniels
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
Looper For a time travel movie, there are very few niggling anomalies to worry about in this film, mainly because it keeps its story relatively straightforward. And despite some big set pieces, it's the smaller emotional moments that get us thinking.

In 2044 Kansas, Joe (Gordon-Levitt) is a looper, working for thugs 30 years in the future who illicitly send their victims back in time for him to kill. Joe knows that one day that victim will be his 30-years-later self, closing the loop and given him three decades of retirement. But the older Joe (Willis) escapes. And as the two Joes chase each other, followed by his boss (Daniels) and a relentless henchmen (Dillahunt), younger Joe takes refuge with single mother Sara (Blunt), creating an unusual bond with her son Cid (Gagnon).

Writer-director Johnson shoots and edits the film beautifully, playing on genres with the noir style narration and some characters' addiction to an eye-drop drug. He also counter-balances the overall warm, intimate tone with some especially grisly touches, such as the way the baddies get the attention of an errant looper. And as the story begins to come into focus, we realise that the older Joe has come back Terminator-style to kill an evil man who has too much power in the future. But the nasty twist is that he's only 5 years old now.

Despite the fact that he's stalking children, Willis gives a slightly sardonic take on his usual tough-guy persona. Gordon-Levitt is excellent as usual, but his face-altering make-up is both distracting and not particularly reminiscent of Willis. Much more effective are his dead-on mannerisms. Daniels is also superb against-type, while Blunt walks off with the film in the most resonant role.

As the story progresses, it switches to become older Joe's story, including gratuitous flashbacks of his intervening years in Shanghai with his gorgeous Chinese wife (Xu). It also gets increasingly grim and unnerving, heading for a climactic showdown that sends shivers down the spine. Yes, it's a bit overwrought, but the script bristles with intelligence as it tackles some huge themes in a personal way. And the most audacious idea of all is that perhaps it's possible to save the world with selfless compassion rather than violence.

cert 15 themes, language, violence 7.Sep.12

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© 2012 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall