3 stars = Good
In this time-traveling thriller, writer-director Rian Johnson ("Brick") presents a grim future, a no-holds-barred attitude about violence, a noble sacrifice and the surprising pairing of Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Young Joe and Bruce Willis as Old Joe.
The premise is that in the 2070s, time travel will be possible but outlawed. However, when mobsters want to eliminate someone, they zap victims back to 2044 Kansas, where a looper or hitman such as Joe uses a crude, forceful gun called a Blunderbuss to kill the person.
The victim usually arrives near a sugar cane field gagged, arms tied and with a sack over his head. When Joe finds himself staring at his intended target -- his own unmasked, familiar and middle-age face -- Old Joe escapes, and a race is on to survive and determine who is calling the savage shots in the future and how to prevent the collateral damage of other lives lost.
The twisty sci-fi thriller also stars Jeff Daniels as a crime boss, Paul Dano as a fellow looper and Emily Blunt as a young mother living in a farmhouse with her son, played by Pierce Gagnon, who unleashes emotions with remarkable fury.
"Looper" is highly original and smart as it teases the left and right sides of your brain in a good way.
The DVD extras include commentary with the director and stars, two featurettes and five deleted scenes. The Blu-ray adds "The Science of Time Travel" featurette and 17 additional scenes.
Robert Pattinson plays 28-year-old billionaire Eric Packer, who decides that his perfectly coiffed 'do needs a trim.
Despite the protestations of his security chief, Eric insists on journeying to his favorite barbershop. In an "Odyssey"-like turn, he stumbles upon a parade of characters and hazards. He runs into his new wife, an old flame, a water-main break, a pie-throwing deviant and an anticapitalist riot, among other impediments. And all the while he talks. And talks. And talks.
The intentionally stilted interactions give the film a dreamlike quality that's bolstered by some bizarre situations. Despite the thick dialogue, there's something compelling about the whole endeavor, because it feels like anything might happen. Even so, it might be better appreciated by a reader than a moviegoer. But the film's takeaway seems best summed up by the first limo visitor who wonders: Do you ever get the feeling you have no idea what's going on?
Extras include "Citizens of Cosmopolis" featurette, commentary with director David Cronenberg, interviews with the cast and crew.
-- The Washington PostAlso being released this week:
• "Doctor Zhivago": Keira Knightley stars in this adaptation of the Boris Pasternak novel that aired on "Masterpiece Theatre" in 2003.
• "War of the Dead": Americans on a World War II mission must face the same soldiers they killed before. Andrew Tierman stars.
• "The Thompsons": Cursed vampires are looking for another clan who can help them survive.
• "Little Birds": The friendship of two young women is tested when they leave home. Juno Temple and Kay Panabaker star.
• "Lillie": The 13-part drama looks at the life of Lillie Langtry.
• "Justified: The Complete Third Season": Timothy Olyphant stars as the U.S. marshal who has a very old school way of dealing with bad guys.
• "Trial & Retribution: Set 6": David Hayman and Victoria Smurfit play investigators on the London police force. This is the four concluding mysteries in the series.
• "Being Human: The Complete Second Season": Syfy Channel series about what happens when a werewolf, vampire and ghost share a house.
• "Cat in the Hat: Hurray, It's Valentine's Day": You can watch this animated story at home, you can watch it in Rome.
• "The Trouble With Bliss": A 35-year-old man (Michael C. Hall) has reached a dead end with his life.
-- Rick Bentley,