Stylistically reminiscent of "Blade Runner," this action-packed, futuristic thriller revolves around the tricky concept of time-travel -- and its challenging consequences.

By 2044, time-travel has not only been invented but is outlawed, meaning the good guys can't do it but the bad guys can -- and do. The way it works is this: If a crime syndicate wants to get rid of someone, they zap him 30 years into the past, where a "looper" (aka hired killer), armed with a blunderbuss (aka sawed-off shotgun), is waiting to blast and dispose of him, like gangland garbage. For each execution, he's paid in bars of silver.

Zipping around a decaying, derelict-littered metropolis in a shiny, red Miata, drug-addicted Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a hot-shot hit man who makes a mistake by hiding a desperate colleague, Seth (Paul Dano), in his apartment. All-too-soon, he realizes that his own loop is going to be closed and his future self (embodied by Bruce Willis) is targeted for assassination by their mobster boss, Abe (Jeff Daniels), a garrulous geezer dispatched from 2074.

As the plot unfolds, older, wiser Joe escapes and embarks on his own mission to identify and kill the youngster who will grow up to be a mysteriously omnipotent villain known the Rainmaker, thereby irrevocably altering the future. Meanwhile, younger Joe befriends tough, enigmatic Sara (Emily Blunt) who is living in an isolated farmhouse in rural Kansas and fiercely protective of her son, Cid (Pierce Gagnon), an angry 10-year-old with terrifying telekinetic powers.

As confusing as it sounds, writer/director Rian Johnson ("Brick," "The Brothers Bloom") makes the tantalizingly twisting and confusing timeline as clear and concise as possible by delineating formidable, multi-dimensional characters and having their individual motivations propel the plot, using only a modicum of digital technology. And, miraculously, utilizing colored contact-lenses, lip-enhancements and a prosthetic nose, Joseph Gordon-Levitt even manages to resemble a younger Bruce Willis.

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Looper" is an exciting, engrossing 8 -- with a solid payoff.

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