The Terminator aspect of this movie cannot be overlooked; that film was a more palatable form of scary because Sarah Connor, despite her complete innocence, is at least an adult victim. What happens to Rainmaker candidate #1 is just jarring.
It is not clear to me when Willis' wife dies. Is that an original memory or an updated one? It's left ambiguous the first time we see Willis abducted, but there seems to be a reason that he looks at her picture in his watch and voluntarily goes back in time. The reason I bring this up is that the film lingers a few seconds on a vagrant kid that Gordon-Levitt almost runs over, and later we see more details in 2074, when a not-dissimilar white gangster shoot Willis' wife.
As soon as we learn of the Rainmaker, I started wondering who it could be. The vagrant kid? The clumsy Gat man, fed up with loopers and with something to prove? I liked the idea that Ultimate Evil was an accidental creation, kind of like the Reavers in Serenity, and I guess that's what would have happened had Gordon-Levitt not sacrificed himself. But even that's not clear. In the diner scene Willis mentions that the Rainmaker is rumored to have seen his mother die. Is he talking about the unintentional death of the woman that raised him, or Emily Blunt?
The ambiguity as you're watching is both interesting and dissatisfying. In the kitchen scene I wondered if Cid/Sid was not the Rainmaker, but the genius who ended up inventing time travel, motivated by trying to save who he already lost. Making him the creepy villain wasn't the way I wanted the film to go, though I'll admit the death by telekinesis of Garret Dillahunt (Gat man Jesse) in the farmhouse was pretty awesome.
Despite my hesitation in embracing the plot points, I think this film handles time travel issues beautifully. Maybe the film would have felt more linear if we met Willis in Years 1-30 rather than through Gordon-Levitt's eyes, but I'm okay with how that was presented. The carnage of adult Seth made total sense to me; we are supposed to regard future changes as subject to whatever is happening in that present moment. It doesn't matter that "The Doctor" will eventually kill Seth. It only matters that he's doing it, um, piece by piece. Also, I wondered about Jeff Daniels' certainty that beings from the future (2074) could not last long in 2044 when he himself managed fine. Willis' headaches seemed more like long-term effects of Gordon-Levitt's Year 1-30 drug use, and Willis seems more okay as the film went on, probably because Emily Blunt cleaned Gordon-Levitt up.
Lots to ponder.
Evans, I can't believe you liked it that much. Count me in the "No way was this movie anywhere near as good as Inception, Matrix, or Avengers" camp.
No offense, but your "not a hard R" was equally off-base. If this is not a hard R, I don't know what is. An absolute ton of graphic violence, language, small children being threatened / killed, etc. Definitely, definitely a "hard R", and one of the more violent films I've seen in quite a while.
Still, a decent movie and worth the price of admission. A good plotline, and strong performances from Gordon-Levitt, Daniels, Cid, Emily Blount was ok, etc. I think I probably let it get too built-up and had my expectations set too high. Don't mind having seen it in the theater, though.
More in the Inception comparison vein - I really have no desire to discuss all the time travel / ambiguous questions with co-workers, my wife, etc. Nor has anybody approached with the same question.
Just saw this, and I'm in the "eh" camp. I agree with those who said it was much more of a shoot-'em-up than I expected; I thought it was going to be more of an intellectual thriller instead. I should have realized I was wrong when half of the previews were for horror movies. I was hoping for something more/different, and preferably without a creepy kid.
One piece that I didn't get in particular: there is a second scene when young Joe is confronted with old Joe showing up to be killed, but the second time old Joe is hooded and young Joe shoots him, turns him over and gets the gold. What was that? Perhaps I'm missing something crucial about the plot that led to me not being very impressed.
Personally, that sequence was one of my favorites, and may be the best single window we have into the mechanics of time travel. Maybe we should try to map it out -- do you have any straws?
The movie was more of a downer than I like these days, but put me in the "I loved it" camp. Very well done, I thought, although a smaller film than I anticipated after the reviews I had read.
Anyway, I don't think you should be surprised or dismayed that you don't like a movie that some other people love. Different people always have different tastes. Understand it, accept it, try not to judge, and move on.
For general interest's sake:
Rotten Tomatoes: 93% Looper, 86% Inception
IMDB: 8.8 Inception, 8.2 Looper
Metacritic: 84 Looper, 74 Inception
Not sure where I personally sit on Looper vs Inception.
Also, why would the size of the child have anything to do with his tk powers?
I don't follow the credible alternate reality comment. What do you mean? (In the different strokes category, I'll admit that I did not particularly care for Children of Men. Too heavy handed and, I don't know, divorced from the way people would really act? The thing I like about a story like Looper is that I can imagine the people actually acting as they did, if you buy the world that was created.One penultimate comment. If the filmmaker is seeking to create a dark world, where there is no real society, then I’d prefer the one (story-wise) found in Children of Men or similar. This one has no acceptably credible alternate reality.
It wasn't sudden. His desire to save Cid from the life he led is completely consistent with his feelings about the woman earlier in the movie, and his stated wish that he could help her be in a position to move away and raise her son right. He is driven by his own abandonment by his mom, and saw the rainmaker coming from the same root causes.That being so, where did Gordon-Levitt’s Joe suddenly find a sense of conscience?
Never mind. I'll go get some coffee and think about it later.
FTR, I'm not dismayed that I don't like a movie that's well-regarded. I just generally enjoy this kind of movie, but now my husband and I both wish we'd picked something else for date night. I thought it was heavy-handed (all the mommy issues were like giant bricks, and I wasn't impressed with the acting for the most part) -- and when you have a time travel movie that will, inevitably, have paradoxes, it's nice to have other pieces to fall back on for post-movie conversation. Instead, we ended up trying to make sense of plot points, which is unsatisfying. But again, that's likely our fault, not the movie's.
I saw it, liked it, although my wife, who likes a good violent action flick as much as me, didn't like it. Ultimately too dark for her tastes, I think.
Funny enough, as a few days have gone by, the only scene which sticks with me as being lousy was the looper getting chopped to bits. In what was otherwise a reasonably well-thought-out time-travel flick, this stood out as a scene where the writer/director just wanted something horrifying and disturbing and was willing to throw away the laws of time travel to have it.
When the old looper comes back through time, and gets away, and his younger self gets captured and then dissected, all those accumulated wounds would have been there the MOMENT the 30-years-older-looper come back through time. It's a great paradox - if he comes back through time faceless, armless, and legless, he ain't running away in the first place...which prevents his younger self from getting dissected in the first place. But, regardless, as soon as something gets chopped off younger looper, it's off older looper the moment he comes back. In fact, the mob could have probably accomplished the same goal by either (1) killing younger looper immediately; or (2) chopping off one piece as a lesson: 30 years from now, when you get sent back, don't run, because we'll just chop something more off that you'll miss for the next 30 years.
Just seemed like a nasty scene that broke the logic of the movie, but they wanted it in there so badly they just hoped we wouldn't notice.
Brian Zoubek on what was going through his mind walking to the free throw line with 3.6 seconds remaining in the 2010 National Championship game and Duke up by 1: "Fifty percent [of me is] thinking, This is what I've been dreaming of doing my entire life. Fifty percent I'm crapping my pants."
Honestly, I liked that as a narrative device enough that I didn't want to dig too much further into the logic behind it all. I think that's what old Joe was suggesting in the cafe, anyway.
Applied to the movie, we can think of it this way. The moment Seth lets his future self (Old Seth) go (A), he is embarking down a path that will lead to him being captured in Joe's apartment (B), having words carved into his arm (C), and having his limbs amputated (D). So, the moment he lets Old Seth walk away (A), all those things (BCD) are going to happen. As a result, they should instantly happen to his future self. Essentially, by letting Old Seth walk away, Seth is making it impossible for Old Seth to walk away because Old Seth no longer has any legs!
Of course, all this is one of those time paradoxes that are really impossible to think about logically. The moment we accept that a time traveller can make any changes to the past, we get paradoxes that -- in the words of Jeff Daniels' Abe character "fries your brain like an egg." If you really think about it logically, the fact that Old Seth is capable of running away from Young Seth would lend credence to a different type of time travel theory -- the theory that separate timelines can exist. In this theory, Old Seth can walk away from Young Seth because Old Seth's history does not include himself getting tortured and having his limbs ripped from his body. That did not happen to HIM, it happens to Young Seth. So, carving words in Young Seth's arm or chopping off his fingers should not have any impact on Old Seth. They are beings who happened to share the exact same history up to a point (the point where Old Seth came back and changed the past). From that point onward, their pasts are different and their futures are different. Does that make sense?
Of course, if we follow that theory, then the entire movie does not work. Clearly, the movie is trying to follow a time travel theory that allows us to change things in the past and have that reflected immediately in how our future will play out. It isn't nearly as logical and is the type of time travel that becomes impossible to make perfect sense because it is a time travel that invites those impossible paradoxes. But, it makes for fun moviemaking and storytelling.
Ok, I just spent a long time talking in circles and saying what is probably really obvious stuff. Ahh well, maybe someday there will be time travel and I can come back to the past and warn me not to do this... wait... how can I warn myself to do something that only happens if I don't warn myself about it. Ouch... my brain is starting to hurt.
-Jason "I still really loved Looper, despite the paradoxes of it" Evans
Imagine that Old Seth is not transported back in time, and that the film had a split screen with 2044 on the left and 2074 on the right. Young Seth, for other reasons of defiance, is being tortured, and The Doctor is going to continue no matter what Young Seth says or does. It would logically follow that Old Seth would indeed have those accumulated wounds -- to be honest, we should never even see Old Seth with limbs.
But time travel destroys this linear line of thinking because at this point of the film Old Seth is also in 2044. The film is demonstrating, quite disturbingly, a very definitive idea of how present acts affect future beings. Each present act is isolated and affects the future being immediately. Old Seth gets the message, letter by letter, on his arm as a direct result of The Doctor (or someone else) carving into Young Seth's arm. Then he is reduced, limb by limb, as the Doctor, um, operates.
In the dramatic sense, I strongly agree with the film's depiction of time travel because a more linear version would make time travel... predictable? If Young Seth sees Old Seth for the first time without limbs, talk about a spoiler alert. It also raises questions as to how those 30 years in between transpired.
I liked Looper as well, but also had an issue with the time travel thing.
I guess my problem is that the movie wanted to have it both ways....First, they clearly established that there are multiple possibilities going on. For instance, young Bruce Looper kills old Bruce Looper, and then that youn Bruce Looper grows up to be a "new" old Bruce Looper. Why? Because that "new" old Bruce Looper did things differently. He fought against the bad guys before being put in the time travel machine. He didn't have a hood on. So he was a "new" timeline.
And so when he goes back, it must, therefore create a now "newer" young Bruce Looper, because things have happened differently than they did before the first time he grew up. So therefore, anything that would happen to the "newer" young Bruce Looper would only show up on the "newer" old Bruce Looper - and that person hasn't come back yet. That person might not ever come back.
And yet, the movie takes actions on the "newer" young Loopers which then has an impact on the "new" old Loopers, which couldn't happen since they come from a different time line.
So in other words, when the guy kills himself at the end, it would only affect the "newer" old Bruce Looper, not the "new" old Bruce Looper. If everyone was the same person, tied together, then you could never be in the same place at the same time. This of course is the paradox of travelling backwards in time.
So the movie lost me there....but setting that aside, I liked the story, and loved the doctor (even though it wouldn't have worked for all the reasons I wrote above, and for the equally compelling reasons given by JE and others).
It is worth noting that the movie begs us not to try to puzzle out all the Time Travel theories and paradoxes going on. Both Bruce Willis (in the diner) and Jeff Daniels (in his office) talk to JGL (but really talk to the audience) and essentially say "don't try to think about it too hard, it won't make sense and it can't make sense."
Our response to that is to spend hours trying to figure the time travel out
Maybe we should just accept the time travel rules as the film applies them? It is somewhat logically consistent -- cut fingers off and they disappear on the future you, kill yourself and the future you disappears. Sure, one can argue that the moment Bruce Willis escapes from JGL, that it probably destroys Bruce's memories of his wife (he will never meet her under this new timeline), but the movie does not go there so maybe we shouldn't either. I dunno.
-Jason "I still love it, logical inconsistencies and all!" Evans
Because we know that there was at least one prior loop ("A"), we have to assume that, in that loop, Young Seth killed Old Seth (similar to what Joe did). We're basing this on the assumption that the only way an "old looper" ever exists is if his younger version closes the loop. The Old Seth we see with limbs is the one who killed his "Old Seth" when he was Young Seth.
As for the rest of that scene, DaveKay is right that it made no sense. As soon as the doctor starts surgery, it has implications on Young Seth that carry forward 30 years. Can he live 30 years with words carved in his arm, missing a nose, etc? Sure. Could they have kept him alive maybe, even with all the limbs missing at the end? Sure, but why? All they would need to do is kill Young Seth, and like we saw with Old Joe, Old Seth would cease to exist.
The moment they kill Young Seth for letting Old Seth walk away, Old Seth ceases to exist. As a result of him ceasing to exist, he cannot walk away. Heck, the moment they amputate his legs, he cannot walk away. But, if Old Seth cannot escape from Young Seth then there is no reason to torture and kill Young Seth. Young Seth is only able to mess up and be punished because Old Seth walks away. As soon as Old Seth cannot walk away, Young Seth is free and clear. So, once they have tortured and killed Young Seth, there is immediately no reason to torture and kill Young Seth. But, if they do not torture Young Seth, then Old Seth can walk away. If he can walk away, then they can torture Young Seth. But, when they torture Young Seth, it prevents Old Seth from walking away. It is an endless loop, impossible to resolve -- the very definition of a time travel paradox.
And here is another one -- what happens to a Looper who dies before he can be sent back and killed? Plenty of them were drug addicts, which certainly could make it hard to survive 30 years after your Looper career ends. We saw Old Joe shooting guns and committing crimes before he met his wife and got cleaned up, it is hardly unlikely that he would be shot and killed in the course of committing more crimes. Heck, if he was in a car accident or merely had a heart attack before the 30 years are done, then he cannot be sent back so his young-self can "close his loop."
And if he cannot be sent back then the young looper is never able to kill himself and thus never able to retire. They just keep on working and working, never getting to close their loop... all because they are not going to be able to live long enough to die by their own hand.
-Jason "my brain hurts" Evans
At any rate, I took the nature of past and present to be fluid, and not necessarily linear. Not sure how that plays out, but I vaguely recall the gangster chief saying something about how risky the doctor's actions were. I suspect his comment reveals something key about how time is constructed in the story.
It seems to me that in the movie a time traveler looping back short circuits the loop. In Seth's case, the effect of things that happen to young Seth don't go all the way around the loop, they jump directly to the returned old Seth. All for now, if I think about it any more my brain will be sunny side up in no time.