(Video on Demand, January 2013) There are quite a few things that annoy me about Looper: The inanity of its time-traveling premise, the slap-dash way its future is assembled, the way the two main stories of the film don’t seem to mesh seamlessly, the lengthy time-out in the third quarter of the film… all elements that could and should have been fixed. But these doubts having been expressed, let us not be distracted from the fact that Looper remains one of the strongest SF films of 2012 in a relatively crowded field: It’s a solid movie, a confident effort that doesn’t spoon-feed its audience and engages with provocative questions about our relationship with ourselves (in the first plot-line) and our duty to the future (in the second). Joseph Gordon-Lewitt stars as the younger version of a character also played by Bruce Willis, but it’s writer/director Rian Johnson who emerges as the big winner of the film: not only does he turn in an accomplished piece of cinema, he also plays with SF archetypes in a refreshing matter-of-fact fashion that allows him to use those elements to get to the core of the drama he wants to set up. Looper goes effortlessly from the streets to the cornfields, striking a Midwest SF atmosphere that feels refreshingly different from many of the other recent SF blockbusters. While the script has weaker points, it manages to present a few complex ideas cleanly, and its second half’s sense of moral uncertainty is uncanny in the best sense. For SF fans who are tired of the same old visually-spectacular-but-dramatically-hollow products, Looper is a small triumph and another entry in the mini-boom of good original cinematic SF since District 9.