By THOMAS BOND
Wow. After picking your jaw up off the ground, you’ll have plenty of thinking and discussing to do when you see the best serious time travel movie ever made: Rian Johnson’s “Looper”. “Looper” sets the bar high early on with a breakneck pace and infectiously energetic atmosphere that pervades the entire film, as Jospeph Gordon-Levitt’s character, Joe, violently kills a body that randomly appears in front of him in a desolate cornfield. Huh? Turns out it’s his job. In the future, time travel exists, of course. But so dangerous is it that it is outlawed, meaning of course that only the bad guys use it. They set up an ingenious system where men are sent back 30 years in time to be killed and disposed of, a method so clean because the person doesn’t even technically exist when they appear in the past to be blasted away and burned. The targets come with a hefty vest full of silver bricks, the pay-day for the killers, who are known as Loopers. Confused yet? Joe lives a cushy life, staying expensively drugged-up and sexed-up when he’s not working, but a mistake by a fellow Looper throws a wrench in everything. The other Looper (Paul Dano) let his target go. Why? Because it was his future self, a pre-determined end for every Looper known as “closing the loop”, so there are no messy ends. The bodies on these jobs are loaded with gold bricks, a step-up for killing yourself. Dano’s Looper tells Joe that his future self warned of a man known as the Rainmaker who was closing loops with reckless abandon. With this new knowledge, Joe is faced with killing himself, and in a bizarre series of events that would take more than a book to explain, ends up in a race against time to stop his older self (Bruce Willis) from doing some very bad things. What’s ingenious about the script is its ability to make us root for both versions of Joe, and yet pray that they are both stopped as well. The subtle make-up job for JGL is Oscar quality stuff, as are the special effects. The world that Johnson has created is simply stunning, and feels so realistic that we are immediately pulled into the mind-boggling loop of time travel without looking back. The actors are solid, and the action is fantastic. I have never seen a more flawlessly scripted movie about the paradoxes of time travel. This film is as clean and precise as a Looper’s kill, and as exciting, original and ingeniously action-packed as anything else you’ll see this year.