Things have a way of coming full circle.
As Rian Johnson's new film, Looper, begins, his protagonist fills in the basics: time travel has not yet been invented--but in thirty years, it will have been. It is highly illegal and used by only the most powerful mobs. Tracking and identification has advanced to a point that disposing of a body is all but impossible, so when the mob needs someone gone, they send that someone back in time where he is killed by a specialized assassin, who then disposes of the body and the problem. These assassins are called "Loopers," since signing on to the job comes with a caveat--the last person they'll be killing for the mob is themselves, closing their "loop."
Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays Joe, an assassin whose loop is about to close--until something goes wrong. Now, Joe has to track down his future self, played by Bruce Willis, in order to save not only himself but the future that now may or may not come to pass.
With very little exposition, Johnson creates a very complete world, planting small seeds early that lead to big payoffs later. He also has a knack for the visual; one early scene features very little actual violence, but rather plays of the implied violence in a fully disconcerting way. It's a scene bound to stick with a viewer days after the film is over.
Featuring a strong supporting cast in Emily Blunt as a fierce mother who will do anything to protect her son, Jeff Daniels as the world-weary Looper boss the future mob sends back to oversee everything, and Johnson regular Noah Segan as a screw-up hired gun, Looper pulls a series of strong performances that give the movie its heart. Good sci-fi isn't about aliens or time travel or bizarre scientific advances--it's about the human emotion behind those things.
Looper is up there with my favorite films of the year. It's intelligent, clever, well-acted and well-made. It builds on its "Wouldn't it be cool if...?" premise and explores answers that may not be so cool after all. It's a 2012 must-see.