PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

September 28, 2012

Brainy/brawny science fiction film superb

Sean McBride
The Port Arthur News

— “Looper” is a science fiction action film that packs both an emotional and an intellectual wallop. This is top-notch filmmaking from a writer/director who has created a movie that will appeal to both general audiences as well as science fiction fan boys. Not to be overly hyperbolic, but “Looper” is quickly turning into one of my favorite films of the year.

The movie posits a world where time travel is possible and criminals from the year 2074 send victims back to assassins who are waiting in 2044. The idea is that the people the criminals want to murder are killed in the past and thus end up never having existed. Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays Joe, one of the 2044 assassins, and the main thrust of the story comes when the criminals from the future send the 2074 version of Joe back to be killed by his younger self.

It’s called closing the loop, and it causes young Joe to pause just long enough for his older self (played by Bruce Willis) to escape. Young Joe has to hunt himself down before his crime boss handlers punish him for missing the assassination. Old Joe is also on the hunt, looking to kill a future crime boss and thus possibly change the outcome of his life.

As is the case in many time travel tales, the story gets a little complicated and doesn’t hold up completely in retrospect. That being said, the main plot points do function nicely within the world of “Looper” and I’m amazed that this strange future dystopia seems so plausible. This is an outlandish fantasy, but also a totally believable adventure.

The film is smart enough to push the time travel elements to the background, giving us a handful of interesting characters to watch. These flawed men are fascinating, even while we recoil at their actions. Willis gets to show off his action hero muscles, but it’s his world-weary demeanor that truly resonates here. Gordon-Levitt is also in fine form, using some slight facial makeup to convince us that he’s a younger version of Willis.

These are two actors at the top of their game, as is evidenced by a face off at a diner which is loaded with rich dark humor. It’s too bad that “Looper” only runs two hours in length, because I could watch these two men fight it out for several hours more.

I’m quite excited to see what director Rian Johnson does next. I named his film debut, ‘Brick” as one of my top ten movies from the year in 2005. His third film, “Looper” certainly seems destined to end up on my 2012 list as well. It’s already enshrined as one of my favorite films of the year.

Movie reviews by Sean, “The Movie Guy,” are published bi-weekly in “The Port Arthur News” and seen weekly on KFDM-TV and KBOI 2-TV. Sean welcomes your comments via email at smcbride@kboi2.com.