Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Review: Looper (second-pass - SPOILERS)

CAUTION: Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.

Looper poster

Looper (Huge Spoilers. Seriously.)
118 mins / Dir. Rian Johnson

Okay. You've had three weeks to see it, so I'm going to dish out the spoilers. You won't really get the rest of this post unless you've seen the film, and it'll ruin it if you haven't. There's a spoiler-free review of Looper here. All good? Splendid...

The Premise: 2044. Time travel hasn't been invented yet, but in 30 years, it will be. It will be instantly outlawed, and only used by the mob seeking to eliminate their enemies. As bodies are almost impossible to dispose of in 2074 (due to bio-tagging, etc, apparently), mobsters will zap their enemies back in time to pre-arranged locations and specialised assassins known as Loopers kill them the second they arrive. Tied, hooded and with blocks of silver strapped to their backs as payment for the Looper, they're despatched, relieved of their loot, and unceremoniously incinerated. The mob's enemy disappears in 2074, and a body is destroyed in 2044 that no-one's looking for as it doesn't exist, legally. Part of the deal with the assassins is a special clause written into their contract: that at some point, the mob will send back the Looper's future self (should they live that long) for termination. This avoids the loose ends that the gangsters don't need, and is known as 'closing your Loop'. Your future self will arrive with a bumper payment on his back (which you don't see until after you've killed him), and once that's cashed, you're released from your contract - free to enjoy your retirement over the next 30 years. Easy.

The Short Actuality: The five year old boy, Cid, is Joe as a child (Joe A). He witnesses his mother being killed by Bruce Willis (Joe C), when Joseph Gordon Levitt (Joe B) fails to stop him. This action sets Joe A (the child) on the disturbed, criminal path to become Joe B (the Looper), Joe C (the redeemer) and eventually Joe D (the Rainmaker). All of these lives intertwine to perpetuate themselves over the time between 2044 and 2074 until Joe B realises it can be stopped by him sacrificing himself at the point of his mother's murder.

Question One: Why send Loopers back to their young selves? This informs the assassin that they actually live for the next 30 years, and effectively makes them immortal in their own eyes. Any change to this (death by recklessness, excessive partying etc) would create a paradox and alter the timeline. By Abe's own admission, altering the future unnecessarily is not something they want to do. Surely a neater solution would be to send Looper One back to be disposed of by Looper Two etc, and keep it as anonymous and lowly-paid as the other killings? No paranoia, no paradoxes.

Question Two: If bodies are so difficult to dispose of in the future, how are the wide-hatted goon squad going to dispose of Bruce Willis's wife in 2074? They arrive to get Willis with handguns which they can't reasonably be expected to use by virtue of their very presence. Once they've clumsily slotted her, why don't they send her body back with him in the time machine? Which leads me to…

Question Three: Why send live targets back at all? Why not kill them in the barn in 2074 and zap the dead bodies back for disposal? We know non-live matter can be transported as the targets all arrive wearing clothes and packs of silver and/or gold. Killing people isn't the problem in 2074, only disposing of the bodies, and it'd be a lot less risky to do business this way.

Question Four: Isn't anyone else a little concerned by the fact that Joe has sex with his own mum? I mean, it's not like he becomes his own father or anything paradoxical like that, but if anything that just makes the whole situation pointless and even more weird. I know Cid claims Sara isn't his mother, but the kid's disturbed, five years old, and Sara's got a far more convincing account of events. His own mum.

Questions one to three, you can take your time with, but someone needs to look at question four sharpish.
Time is of the essence.


• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.

• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.


  1. I assume Joe (Joseph Gordon Levitt) was actually sent back in time to 2044 to become a looper, otherwise the plot twist makes no sense (logical or otherwise), it also explains why Abe was really hot on having Joe (Bruce Willis) go to China (he must have met him or knew him there at some point before Abe came back.).

    Regarding Questions 1 through 4 - Yes, Yes, Yes and Yuck YES!

    Also thr following questions...

    5) Why did Joe (Joseph Gordon Levitt) or Joe (Bruce Willis) not have or demonstrate any super TK talents?

    6) How do they know when to send a Looper to a particular spot to kill people? (If there is some method of communication between the future and the past, wouldn't the "mob" be using that to communicate lottery numbers, stock tips details of business/gadget/technology etc?)

    7) If Joe (Joseph Gordon Levitt & Bruce Willis) are in fact Cid, how the hell do they also become the Rainmaker when they are so busy trying to be/end their respective loops?

    8 How the hell did Sara know about Loopers?

  2. 5) I figured he 'forgot' about (/blocked) that in his troubled youth (or Abe found a way to block his talents that conveniently wasn't mentioned). Doesn't really work as an answer, but is the most plausible, I reckon.

    6) I figured the machine they send stuff back in is at (one of) the spot(s) that they lay the sheet out, 30 years earlier. Even though it seems Bruce lives in China, not Kansas. Could be wrong about that, though, although if they'd invented teleportation as well as time-travel, that'd be bigger news, surely?

    7) I thought that Bruce Willis becomes the Rainmaker after he kills his mum in 2044, which is why neither of them 'remember' it. It's also possible that the reason the Rainmaker is so powerful is because Bruce reawakens his telekinetic powers after 'remembering' killing his mother.

    8) It wasn't that tight a secret in the underworld. Remember the payment office has a sign above the basket for Looper's Blunderbuses. Anyone living a shady/sleazy life is likely to come into contact with loopers or their associates. Why the 2044 police aren't interested is a bigger question.


    9) His mum, though? HIS OWN MUM?