Looper and Loopholes
'Loopers' are basically men who are hired to point blank shoot and kill people sent back from the future. Time travel has not yet been invented, but in the future it would have been. It is outlawed there but still used by underground crime syndicates to eliminate people and not leave any trace of a body. For every kill, loopers are paid handsomely in silver. It's a simple lucrative job, and someone has to do it-- but there's a catch. For your last kill you are paid in gold, but the person you kill would actually be yourself, from the future. This is called 'closing the loop', where you yourself is eliminated so wouldn't be able to talk about all the dirty work you were made to do through the years.
In any case, the movie might be confusing to some, but it's actually pretty straight forward. I know we're talking of possibly billions of ongoing loops, alternate realities/ timelines, but let's just set that aside for a second here. Think of it as just two sets of time periods, either past or future, from two points of view, either Joe and old Joe.
FIRST REALITY/ OLD JOE: You see how it pans out when the loop is actually properly closed. Everything goes on smoothly. Joe properly kills his future self, gets his gold, and is given free reign to do whatever he wanted. He had lots of cash and this thought at the back of his head that he was going to die sooner than later (in 30 years to be exact), not a particularly good combination. So he partied his ass off, then resorted to robbery when he was all out. He didn't really feel like living for anything, until he met this girl. Ah, of course it's for a girl.
You can say he 'retired' from his bad boy days and lived a quiet life in the suburbs... but suddenly his 30 years was up. The mafia was at his house ready to 'collect' him when everything turned for the worse, his girl was killed, and he blames himself for it. So of course there's only one thing TO do-- go back to the past and make sure this bit of the future NEVER happens.
SECOND REALITY/ JOE: So young Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), our protagonist, was there in his usual killing spot when he comes face to face with his future self (Bruce Willis). A slight hesitation caused him to lose his charge, and now the both of them have to run for their lives. Sliding Doors, sequence changed, the past would never be the same again.
Now even if Joe and Old Joe should be the same person, just from different points in time, they couldn't be more different. To the point that even if Joseph did a great job in acting, I didn't think he and Bruce was very much like the same person. They were just absorbed with two totally different mindsets all throughout the movie, that it's hard to see their similarities if there was at all.
Old Joe has been pretty much hardened through time. There's nothing he hasn't seen or done before, and with that he feels so much more knowledgeable than his young self and knows what is best for both of them. Joe on the other hand was just faced with an unfortunate situation wherein his future self, who should be dead, does NOT want to die. He feels he's been robbed of his life, Old Joe got to live the life, why shouldn't he get on with it himself?
Now I don't know about you, but I went into the movie thinking of high speed chases through time, lots of action and really confusing (time) mind games between Joe and Old Joe. What I didn't expect was lots of emotion and slow scenes in practically in the middle of nowhere, a field.
You see, Old Joe has a simple idea of how to stop all the loops from being closed from happening, and that is to kill the Rainmaker before he grows big enough to really cause havoc. He's narrowed down the possibilities to three children. So Joe has this simple idea on how to kill his future self, wait around one of the kids who happens to live with his mother in a field.
I have to say I didn't expect the part of the kid and how he played such a crucial role in this film. Kudos to the young actor Pierce Gagnon by the way, he can be really scary if he wants to. I like characters who are a lot tougher than they appear to be. I knew they added TK there for a reason, like whoa!
So anyways, at first Joe was only looking out for himself, he wants to kill his future self so he can just get on with his life. That was before he saw, in fact in slow mo, how small actions can have huge detrimental consequences in the future. He decided to give the kid a chance, make certain that he wouldn't be the cause of having created the Rainmaker in the first place. It was kind of heavy to watch at that point.
We can actually see from here that even in his shorter experience with life, Joe was able to become more emotionally mature than Old Joe. He didn't act for a girl or for his dreams like Old Joe did, he acted selflessly with a greater purpose in mind, something bigger than himself. I guess you can say that experience doesn't necessarily mean you'll make better decisions in life.
But it's surprising how even if it did not necessarily end in a happy ending, it's actually not sad. I take comfort in the fact that Joe made his own choice. It's bittersweet yes, but you wouldn't have it any other way.
STUFF TO THINK ABOUT AFTER
With movies involving time travel, you can't help but have your own hypothetical questions and what ifs. I found a video of writer/ director Rian Johnson answering plot holes and other burning questions. He really defends his views quite well.
- If old Joe comes back to kill the Rainmaker, how does the Rainmaker came to be? (I mean,
how could there be an evil Rainmaker in the future if Old Joe hasn't come back to destroy his childhood yet?) Add a little magic logic!
- Why do Loopers have to close their own loop? (Like duh, right? Switching killers would make sure you don't choke on yourself!)
- Is the Rainmaker closing loops for revenge? Now Rian says this is a good question, and I even have this idea at the back of my head that the Rainmaker actually was the one who went ahead and made time travel possible, he certainly has the technical abilities for it. So here's another time travel loophole for me in a sense that Old Joe wouldn't have needed to kill the Rainmaker back in the past if the Rainmaker didn't make time travel, which made Loopers exist in the first place.
Just some fun things to ponder about. I definitely enjoyed this movie, one of the best time travel movies out there for sure. I give this one a solid 90%. BTW, it's rated R-16 where I'm from, and for good reason. Some parts are dead on brutal, it's not for little kids.