I loved Rian Johnson's Brick and so the reviews his time-travelling hit-men story have been getting didn't surprise me. What did please me was that the film is emotionally sustaining throughout - the characters are well-drawn and, as an action film, it has satisfying dialogue and plot in between the shooty bits. It is more than simply sci-fi.
Set in the future, twice, we are in a world where murders are impossible (because the bodies can't be hidden anymore) so victims from 2074 are sent back in time to be rubbed out by specialists in 2044. That both are in our future allows Johnson to imagine the progress the world might make in 30 and 60 years. It's not good. Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) plays the 2044 hit-man. He waits in a field. A bound and hooded victim materialises. He blows them away, incinerates the body, and gets paid. Eventually, to close the loop (of the title) the assassin's older-self will be sent back. For this dispatch the murderer will discover what he has done when he finds a double payment. Then he will know he has thirty years to live.
In 2044 a mutant gene has left a small percentage of the population with telekinetic ability. Most just use this skill to pull, but watch out for a master.
Should, through blunder or circumstance, someone escape the loop, then finding the younger one and killing them ends it all. But it is much more satisfying to etch a sketch on the younger one or cut off a finger or two. Torture is presaged but not delivered to our eyes. Old Joe escapes the loop.
Of course there are questions begged. But mainly they strike you afterwards. During the actual two hours it is quite easy to roll with it. There was one short scene I didn't get - it may have been supposed to take place in someone's head.
Inception set the bar quite high for this sort of thing with the special effects dominating in that case. Here we have good action sequences and Brucie (Willis, playing Old Joe) gets to shoot an awful lot of people. But he also gets faced with the old question 'Would you kill a child if you knew how unpleasantly s(he) was going to turn out?' One for the post-movie drinks discussion.
The end doesn't suck. Often the resolution of the time-changing conundrums causes such movies to disappear up their own portal. This one doesn't. In fact a couple of late introductions (ideas and characters) make for a satisfying final act. And lots to talk about.
There is a murder suggested in 2074. It isn't a plot-hole so much as a review-generator. What would they have done with the body if that person died. The conclusion of the film makes this irrelevant. Or does it?
Go spin your head. Recommended.