Saturday, October 13, 2012
Looper: is there something a little wibbly-wobbly with this timey-wimey?
Hit the first theatre, sold out. Had to head to the other side of town, and now our double movie was out of the question. We chose Looper and the mall parking lot was like Christmas, it was so busy. My husband looked at me and said, "I think this just isn't our night." I said no, we have to get SOMETHING to go right. He dropped me off and I ran in to grab tickets, and the mass of people in there was unbelievable. What the hell? I mean, I'm glad people are going to the movies, but... not if I can't. ;)
I jumped into a kiosk line and the brain trusts at the front of the line spent 8 minutes (I timed them) trying to get their cards to work in the automated teller, and those of us in line, being good Canadians, grumbled angrily under our breath while not uttering a word to them. They eventually turned and announced to all of us that the machine simply didn't work. The guy in front of me didn't believe them, and stepped up as they walked away. It worked just fine. I got our tickets, we went into an almost-full theatre, but nabbed two seats that were NOT in the front row, thank goodness. Things were looking up.
And Looper, by the way, is a fun, timey-wimey, wibbly-wobbly bit of time travel sci-fi about a group of people called Loopers: in 2044, they are assassins. But not of anyone in our timeline. A criminal element in 2074 finds people they need killed, send them in a time machine back to a spot in 2044, where the Looper is standing, and the Looper is given a time to be standing there. He waits, checks his watch, readies his gun, the hit suddenly appears, and bang, job done. Here's the catch: a Looper signs an agreement that in 30 years, he will be hunted down and sent back in time to HIMSELF, and that Looper will know he's just killed his future self when he turns the dead man over and finds gold strapped to his back. He will then take the gold, cash out of the game, and spend the next 30 years having a hell of a time, knowing that he'll be assassinated by himself. And that's called closing the loop, hence their name.
So when Joseph Gordon-Levitt's future self, Bruce Willis, suddenly shows up and immediately beats the crap out of him, things haven't gone as planned, and now Gordon-Levitt must hunt down Willis and kill him to close the loop and make it so the Looper head office, so to speak, doesn't torture him to get the future Looper back (the scene where we watch this happen to someone else is gruesomely amazing). Willis, on the other hand, has an agenda, which ends up changing the direction of the film.
We both enjoyed the movie a lot, and thought it was a great concept that was well executed. But I had a few gripes with the actual timelines that happened in the film (and I can thank Lost season 5 and Doctor Who for making me think about it so much), and so I will list them here.
You saw the film, right? You're not cheating?
OK, it's just us now. So here's my beef. They establish early on that there's a main timeline: Willis comes back, Levitt kills him. Levitt lives the next 30 years of his life the way we watch it unfold, but then he gets to the end of that 30 years and knows what will happen next, and wants things to be different. So when it's time to be killed, he immediately starts changing the timeline. He beats his younger self up, and so now we see the second timeline begin, which is essentially (unlike Lost and more like Back to the Future) the first timeline with things changing. Remember Hurley saying he was waiting for his hand to disappear and Miles telling him that was ridiculous? Well, in this one, hands disappear.
So. Willis's entire modus operandi is to find the Rainmaker, who he assumes is a child, and kill him. Why he doesn't assume the Rainmaker is in his sixties or is a woman (why does he assume children and not their mothers??) is quickly swept under the carpet with a couple of sentences, and off he goes to hunt down the three kids whose birth dates correspond to some numbers he found. As Levitt experiences things, Willis begins to change because his just being there is changing this timeline, and therefore changing his past and everything that has happened. If he'd just been killed, none of this would have happened.
We realize the Rainmaker is Cid, a little boy with telekinetic powers. His mother originally abandoned him but has come back and is raising him with all the love she has, and is beginning to teach him how to control his powers. But when Willis comes back, hunting Cid with a vengeance, Levitt finally figures out how the Rainmaker was made: he saw Willis gun down his mother, and he jumped on a train and got away, knowing he could have stopped him but didn't, and grows up, uses his power to kill every Looper out of revenge for what happened to his mother, and that's how Willis ended up being returned the way he did.
So here's my question: How was the Rainmaker actually created if he existed in the original timeline, BEFORE Willis actually went back and turned the little boy into the monster? It was Willis that made him bad. But he wouldn't have turned bad if Willis hadn't shown up, and in the original timeline, Willis didn't show up.
The same could actually be said for the torture scene, which although amazing, as mentioned above, didn't make sense. They needed their future Looper killed in this timeline and couldn't have him wandering around on the loose, so they torture his present self, chopping off body parts so the future Looper becomes less and less of a piece of flesh until they make him come to them so they can do away with him. Um... why not just kill the younger version, which would make the older version vanish?
I know it's likely I'm missing something in both instances, so I'd love to hear what some of you thought who are into time travel fiction and saw the movie. Did you find it inconsistent?
Don't get me wrong: I really did enjoy it, and would recommend it. Gordon-Levitt's prosthesis is worth the price of admission alone. I actually thought Kid Blue was Abe in the past (I thought that would have been pretty cool) or was the Rainmaker. But in the end he was just a jacked-up baddie. What I did like was the subtle message at the end that our past dictates our future, and I loved the image of the dead Young Joe in the field, with Sarah stroking his hair the way he'd remembered his mother stroking his. He grew up a deadbeat because she left him, but Sarah is the mother who stayed, and because of a mother's devotion and love, her son actually has a chance to be a good person.