Every so often a film seems to be branded ‘the new Matrix’ because it’s intelligent concept sci-fi that makes a shitload of money. The last big one was Inception and now, following in that same vein, we have Rian Johnson’s Looper, a time travel movie that deals with the paradox in a refreshingly unique and intelligent way. Science fiction has its detractors, but the noirish stylings of Looper are closer to Blade Runner than they are to the legions of crappy and low-budget films that have given the genre its ‘difficult’ reputation in contemporary culture. Looper is an action movie that revels in conversations, and a time travel movie that focuses on the time travellers, not the machines that got them there.

At the heart of the movie is this summer’s biggest star Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Joe, a man who is employed to kill people sent back to him from the future- where time travel has been invented- so that their bodies can’t be traced. But a series of events take place that inform him that, in the future, there’s a big baddie called The Rainmaker killing off these assassins, so, when his future self returns he, accidentally, allows him to escape. What follows from there is a mildly cerebral chase movie where you’re never quite sure who the bad guy is, or if there even is one. It’s Joe against Joe (or JGL against John McClane) as they both seek to escape the long arm of Jeff Daniels’ law, whilst also tracking down the child who will become The Rainmaker.

Unlike a lot of recent action movies, the high concept doesn’t ever really get sacrificed for the sake of extended action sequences, and it’s all the better for that. It’s an extremely talky sci-fi that works of the natural appeal of its two leads, and their interactions with the world of the future. The film heads towards poignancy when JGL shacks up with Emily Blunt and her ten-year-old son but the movie is most fun when it’s doing the thing that Inception did right- making things look fascinating. Couple that with a much more intelligent, involving and coherent story that Christopher Nolan’s overrated opus and you have a very impressive film that maintains its appeal, despite sagging somewhat in the middle of its runtime. Looper is smart and fun and involves very few explosions and absolutely no aliens.

A clever movie that’ll be a lot of fun if you don’t take it too seriously. Big ideas, sparkling dialogue and appealing performances make this a success.

Title: Looper
Director: Rian Johnson
Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis, Emily Blunt, Jeff Daniels, Piper Perabo, Paul Dano
Running Time: 118 minutes
Certificate: 15

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