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It is one thing to be a hit man for the mob, quite another when they expect you to kill yourself. This conundrum is further complicated for Joe (Inception’s Gordon-Levitt) when the mob he works for is some thirty years in the future and they send him Bruce Willis through a wormhole. So starts Johnson’s terrific mind warp of a sci-fi yarn with nods to both Terminator and nearly every work by Phillip K. Dick.

Old Joe is on the run not because young Joe has a problem killing his future self (he’s still got thirty years to live and plenty of silver to do it with), he’s on the run because young Joe is a poor shot and missed. So with both of them hiding out (one from the mob, the other from himself), and the prickly issue of time-travel logic sidelined, Looper quickly shifts up a gear to become a whip smart action thriller. One in which old Joe has seen a future he wants to change, and young Joe needs to stop him.

More than anything else (and there is a lot to enjoy from Johnson’s deft hand with action sequences to his lo-fi steam-punk styling), Looper is great fun: the wry narrative sits just on the right side of complex while his story-telling tongue waivers near his cinematic cheek. Making it all work is Gordon-Levitt whose confident performance channels a young Willis through learned posture and some effective makeup to recreate the Bruce of yesteryear.

It’s a neat trick that gives the film added body. Sit him opposite the compelling presence of Willis and the winning presence of Emily Blunt, layer on some vintage Spielberg and pack in a thumping, totally unexpected ending and you get one of the best SF films of the past decade.

moviereview colin fraser film movie australia review critic flicks

Looper (2012) on IMDb

Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Bruce Willis
Emily Blunt

Rian Johnson

Rian Johnson


MA / 118 minutes

September 27, 2012
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