R, 119 minutes
Ambitious but not entirely successful, “Looper” is much more than your standard science fiction action flick.
Writer/director Rian Johnson (“Brick”) has crafted a film that’s less concerned with the mechanics of time travel than with the ramifications it has on its characters. It also has one of the boldest casting movies of the year, with Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon-Levitt playing the same man separated by 30 years in age.
Joe is an assassin, or “looper,” living in Kansas City circa 2044. The loopers kill victims sent back in time by a crime syndicate that runs everything in the future. Their careers are prosperous but brief – retirement comes when the victim who shows up to be assassinated is actually themselves, three decades into the future.
Unfortunately for young Joe, old Joe has apparently been preparing carefully for this day and manages to escape. This sets off a nasty temporal snafu, as well as pitting the two of them against each other and the entire looper operation.
“Looper” is bursting with originality, but the movie seems to spin sidewise from itself and lose focus. Eventually it all gets tied up in a satisfying way, even if the journey there isn’t always a smooth one.