Film is super ‘Looper’ duper

Istare at the screen in utter disbelief, pulling my face down into a monster mask. Finally, an original film!

“Looper,” written and directed by Rian Johnson, (“Brick,” “Brothers Bloom”) and starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt is the best action sci-fi thriller since the late 1990s, making audiences think, laugh, and nearly cry.

Admittedly, “Looper” doesn’t shy away from cultural influences such as “Blade Runner” and a taste of “Back to the Future,” but the end result always feels wholeheartedly new.

I was starting to lose hope in film the last few months. September and October are usually reserved for the end of summer duds and early Oscar contenders, but finally trudging through this filth of a film season we come to the promised land. Thank “Looper.”

“Looper” takes audiences on an adventure and you better strap in, because it’s certain to be a bumpy ride.

This ride won’t send you hurtling through elaborate fight scenes or monstrous fire fights, but your brain will be spinning by the end. You can watch trailer after trailer before seeing this film and you still won’t see what’s coming.

Set pieces resemble a more realistic future with filthy city streets and the occasional hover bike. Thirty years from now we still haven’t mastered every Jetsons-esque invention. Johnson does a superb job of never, for a second, allowing the audience to question the realism of his story, set, or inventions.

I could go on and on about every detail of this film, but one thing I can’t forget is the star-making performance from Levitt. Levitt, complete with Bruce Willis makeup, is a haunting specter roaming the city in the dank underbelly of his city while still working a steady job as a looper, a hired assassin who kills people sent back from the year 2072.

From the cold blooded killings to the more tender human moment, Levitt nails the character.

His performance is fascinating as an absolutely terrifying young Bruce Willis. John McClane would be scared of this version of Bruce.

There are a few other great performances. There is the captivating Emily Blunt, and Bruce Willis is great as a stalwart time traveler who will do anything to complete his objective. But the best performance, besides Levitt’s, comes from the most phenomenal child actor I’ve ever seen on screen, Pierce Gagnon. This actor is able to change his emotion and tone with a flip of the subtle switch. Gagnon will certainly be someone we see again on screen.

See this film if you like science fiction, mind-bending, and thrillers. If you don’t, still see it, because “Looper” and director Johnson deserve every success in the world for doing something producers and studios no longer care about.

Johnson made an original film and blew my mind in the process. I hear Warner Bros. is looking to reboot the Batman franchise, and Johnson might want to give them a call. Or maybe just stick to making extraordinary, overwhelming thrillers.

Patrick White

Movie fan Patrick White doesn't spare anyone's feelings when deciding if the latest Hollywood offering is trash or treasure. Catch his reviews on the latest theater and DVD releases in Saturday's paper.

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