CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- There's not a whole lot I can say about "Looper" without sounding like I was paid by TriStar Pictures to promote it. The new film by Rian Johnson ("Brick") is a rare movie because it achieves exactly what it aims to do and does so perfectly. It hasn't a single flaw.
The premise is surprisingly simple considering how convoluted time-travel stories can be. "Looper" takes place in 2044, when time travel hasn't been invented. But 30 years from then, it will, and it will be outlawed.
When criminal organizations need someone gone, they send their target -- bound, gagged and hooded with silver strapped to their back -- to the year 2044 to be killed by a Looper. The Looper then disposes of the body and collects the silver, cashing it in as payment.
At some point, a Looper's future self will be sent back in time to be killed by their past self, provided they're still alive in 30 years. The Looper will not be aware of this until they find gold on their victim instead of silver. It is at this point that the loop has been closed, and the Looper is free from their contract.
But when a Looper named Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) finds his future self (Bruce Willis) sent back in time without being incapacitated, his future self manages to escape. Now, 2044 Joe has to track down his future self and kill him, while being chased himself by his organization for failing to complete his loop. Meanwhile, 2074 Joe is hell bent on revenge.
The supporting cast includes Jeff Daniels ("The Newsroom") as a kingpin from the future who runs the Looper organization and Noah Segan ("Brick") as a fellow Looper out to catch Joe. They're wonderful, but it's Emily Blunt ("The Adjustment Bureau") who steals the show as Sara; unfortunately, saying anything about her character would give away major plot points.
"Looper" is one of the smartest sci-fi movies in years. The special effects, while wonderful, are never over the top, and the acting is top-notch.
The characters have a very gray morality that causes the audience to become conflicted. Present Joe, Future Joe and Sara all have their reasons for doing what they're doing and regrets for previous actions, but no character is above the other morally. You can root for or against any of the characters because their motivations are so understandable."Looper" not only entertains, but keeps you guessing until the shocking end. And even after the screen fades to black, the film and its themes are sure to have a lasting effect.