Looper, starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis as younger and older versions  of the same person, is a deliciously complex and fast-paced sci-fi thriller that’s likely to satisfy both, fans of popcorn movies and those seeking more cerebral entertainment.

Set in  2044, the film stars Gordon-Levitt as Joe, a low-level hitman – or a Looper – working for  mobsters in the year 2074, who use an illegal time machine to send their victims back three  decades to be killed by these hired hands. The killings themselves aren’t elaborate affairs.  Joe waits in a remote field for his target to materialize out of thin air, shoots them at  close range, and disposes the bodies. Things get hairy when Joe’s latest victim turns out to  be an older version of himself, played by Willis. Young Joe hesitates momentarily,giving  Old Joe the chance he needed to escape. Now, Young Joe must find Old Joe and kill him(self)  before the mob does.

Sure it all sounds like a bit of a stretch, and it is. But director Rian Johnson keeps you consistently on your toes by throwing interesting ideas at you from  all directions. He also keeps the action pumping as Young Joe sets out to track down Old  Joe, who is himself on the trail of a mysterious 10-year-old kid he wants to kill.

Meanwhile, Jeff Daniels cameos as Joe’s menacing mobster boss Abe, who’s never thrilled when  loopers let their older selves escape; and Emily Blunt shows up around midway into the film  as a pretty farmer and fiercely protective single mum who takes pity on Young Joe.

Brimming  with energy, Looper is many things rolled into one – a chase movie in its first half, a  time-travel thriller with nods to The Terminator and Twelve Monkeys, and it even culminates  nicely as a bittersweet moral drama. A few subplots remain curiously unresolved, but for the  most part this is ambitious, audacious storytelling.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt, fitted with  prosthetics to look more like Bruce Willis, exudes toughness and vulnerability, while Willis  goes for steely determination. Together the two actors form the brain and the brawn of this  remarkably original film.

I’m going with four out of five for Looper. It’s a smart film  with thrills – now how often do you get to see one of those?

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