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Critic's Pick: 'Action Guy' Joseph Gordon-Levitt in 'Looper'

October 17, 2012
  • Joseph Gordon-Levitt stars in "Looper."
Joseph Gordon-Levitt stars in "Looper." (Alan Markfield, TriStar…)

Joseph Gordon-Levitt is doing a swell job of reinventing himself as Action Guy this year, with "Looper," the excellent sci-fi time-traveling thriller, the latest. He used to be primarily Hipster Guy, what with "(500) Days of Summer" and "50/50." Now he's pretty much locked and loaded from the moment he shows up. Earlier this summer, it was as the gutsy bike messenger with a bad guy on his tail in the great whoosh of "Premium Rush." Now he's an assassin — a "looper" — part of a lethal cleanup crew in 2044 whose job is to eliminate future mob liabilities. The targets are transported back in time to face the music — solitary guys with very big guns. It is refreshing to watch — not the killing, Gordon-Levitt's career trajectory — because the actor has kept all the intelligence he's brought to his more refined roles. It helps that "Looper" writer-director Rian Johnson came up with a killer-diller plot, and Bruce Willis is great as Gordon-Levitt's older self. But that's no surprise: Willis has been Action Guy forever.

— Betsy Sharkey

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