Director: Rian Johnson.
Cast: Joseph Gordon Levitt, Bruce Willis, Emily Blunt, Jeff Daniels.
TAKE the mindbending sci-fi of Philip K Dick, throw in a twist of Stephen King, and you're part-way towards describing the atmosphere of this high-concept time-travel tale.
The one line premise for Looper is "what if you had to kill a future version of yourself?" - an idea rich with promise that opens up a fascinating dystopia and some interesting characters.
The end result is far from perfect, but the movie's real success is the way it lingers. You'll be unravelling its time travel machinations in your head as you walk from the cinema, but there are some scenes that will live much longer in the memory.
Looper is set in 2044, and in the years ahead of this setting, time travel will have been invented, banned, and become a way for criminals to dispatch enemies by sending them back into the past (which is 2044 - are you still with me?).
Waiting in the past (which is 2044) are loopers - assassins ready to blast the victims the second they're zapped back to 2044. Joe (Levitt) is one of those loopers confronted with the ultimate test, called "closing the loop" - his next victim is the future version of himself (Willis).
Looper is enjoyable but not without its negatives. On the downside, some sections feel flat, it's hard for such a film not to get bogged down in exposition occasionally, plus the tone gets uneven, veering from horror to sci-fi to crime to over-the-top action in a short period of time.
But its intriguing story, strong performances, clever ideas and driving ambition help overcome the slight disjointedness.
The real ace in the hole though is it's memorable sequences, which will stick with you.
It's opening scene - a short sharp display of a looper kill - feels iconic already, the film's conclusion is powerful, plus there is a truly horrifying sequence that shows what happens when a looper is captured after having failed to "close their own loop". It's one of the most twisted and insanely evil scenes outside of a Hostel movie, but a million times scarier and smarter.
Also, there's a creepy kid who's like something out of a Stephen King novel. He's played by Pierce Gagnon and it's a performance you have to see to believe.
The other great turn is from Levitt, who channels a young Bruce Willis brilliantly without slipping into caricature.
Time travel is always a tricky thing to deal with - internet nerds love dissecting the paradoxes and plotholes of The Terminator and Back To The Future series - and those people will have a ball with Looper, but on the face of it Johnson has done a superb job with the script, using its high-concept idea to explore notions of morality, the greater good, sacrifice, destiny, and the nature of evil.
Looper has its holes and kinks but it strings together an imaginative story and manages to avoid tying itself in a knot.