'Looper', a time travel trip that works

September 28, 2012 

Looper tackles time travel. It’s a tricky topic. Even more tricky than talking time is reviewing Looper and not giving away the tasty time treats awaiting serious and non-serious sci-fi fans.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s Joe lives in 2042. He’s a Looper. They are hired as assassins by people in the future. Loopers are given contracts that tell them to be at a certain place at a certain time. At the exact time stated in the contract, a tied up and hooded person pops into 2042 from 2072. Pow. The Looper instantly shoots them. The body which doesn’t exist in 2042 is then destroyed.

It’s a good living.

A mafia existing in both times run things. From Joe’s place in time, his boss is Abe. Nicely done by Jeff Daniels, Abe is from the future and coordinates the contracts in the past. Abe says a mad man is taking over the business in 2072 and for unknown reasons is terminating the contracts of the Loopers.

Termination is not a good thing and this is where things — as happens with all time travel flicks — get complicated. When a contract is terminated, a Looper is no longer hired to kill people. A canceled contract means they are scheduled to be killed 30-years into the future. In 2072 or thereabouts, they’re grabbed by someone, tied up, hooded and transported back to 2042 and blown away.

Sometimes they’re killed by their younger self.

Joe’s contract is terminated. Levitt’s Joe in the past fails to kill the Joe from the future in his last contract. That’s a no-no. As Joe hunts for himself, he is hunted by the mafia. Joe’s search for his future self connects him with Emily Blunt’s Sara. This leads to another plot thread. In 2042 some people have developed telekinetic powers. Her young son, Cid is one of them.

That’s all you get.

Though the real star of the film is the story itself, you can’t pull it off without excellent acting. Levitt and Blunt are two of the brightest stars working today and have exceptional chemistry. So do Levitt and Pierce Gagnon who plays Cid. The kid steals every scene he’s in.

Bruce Willis plays Joe from the future. Willis has eons of acting experience perfecting this character and is perfect. Daniels, too, is exceptional.

Doing time travel films — as noted earlier — is tough. As the writers, director and actors twist time, your brain sometimes doesn’t go along. Almost instantly the what if and what about questions start. Most of your queries aren’t answered satisfactorily. That leads to statements that usually begin with, “Oh, c’mon!”

By the time the credits roll, you, too wish you could go back in time and skip the film.

Writer/director Rian Johnson neatly takes care of your questions and plot problems when Levitt’s Joe meets his future self. Willis’ Joe tells Levitt’s Joe that he could do charts and graphs to explain why and how time travel works and how they can both be in the same place at the same time, but they’d be there all day.

Acceptable. Simple. Brilliant. Just like Johnson’s movie. This one is fun. Go, and enjoy.

Mr. Movie rating: 4 1/2 stars

Director: Rian Johnson
Stars: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Emily Blunt, Bruce Willis, Jeff Daniels, Paul Dano, Piper Perabo

Rated R for mature themes, violence, language, nudity. It is playing at the Carmike 12, the Fairchild Cinemas 12 and at Walla Walla Grand Cinemas.

5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen
4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it's your type of movie.
3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on DVD.
2 stars to 1 star: Don't bother.
0 stars: Speaks for itself.

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