Rian Johnson’s third film is assuredly his best effort to date. The genre-bending director, having tackled film noir by way of adolescence (in Brick) and screwball comedy by way of conmen (in The Brothers Bloom), turns his hand to action by way of Philip K. Dick-esque sci-fi. In the future, time-travel has been invented, outlawed, and appropriated by criminal gangs who send marked men back thirty years in the past so their corpses will never be found. The assassins, known as loopers, go about their time-warping work aware that they may one day be forced to confront, and murder, their future selves.
While the thrills are loud and bloody, the ideas floated are quietly philosophical. Some hefty ethical dilemmas amplify the ambiguity of our two leads, leaving us continually undecided as to which looper is the true hero: present-day Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) or future Joe (Bruce Willis). Muscular and consistently unpredictable, this is genre filmmaking at its most confident and sophisticated.