Movie Review: I didn’t loop for Looper
Maybe I’m getting overly cynical in my old age. Maybe I’ve come to expect more from Hollywood than just a good concept. Maybe I don’t think Hollywood gives its audience any credit for being able to spot plot holes in movies and question where the writer was when making certain decisions.
Warning: Spoilers ahead
Looper is a movie about a time travel. In one aspect. It’s only one way travel. I was fine with that. Loopers are paid assassins (in our future) that kill people sent from far into the future. Their job is to kill and dispose of corpses. Attached to the ‘hit’ is their pay. Okay, I’m fine with that. Works for me.
Loopers are eventually ‘retired’ and this is called ‘closing the loop’. Eventually their future self is sent back and they must kill their future self. I was also fine with this. They get a golden payday. All is good.
Our protagonist says “Most loopers aren’t forward thinkers.” This means that most of these loopers are dullards that figure there’s no way out for them and accept their fate. Partying, doing drugs, etc. I’m still on board. So far it was a good ride. There are even TKs in this future the loopers live in. People with telekinetic ability. Wonderful. I’m 100% into this movie at this point.
One of the loopers fails to close his loop. He lets the guy get away. “Letting your loop run.” This is a very bad thing. All sorts of things can go wrong. At this point I’m still on board. The looper boss (a guy sent back from the future that set all this up) has this loop closed the hard way. Basically by kill both the present and future person. Not a pretty sight.
Then our protagonist is supposed to close his loop. In one scene he sees himself failing, but then succeeds, but he knows how to get away. It’s like a future flashback. Very cool the way they did this. I got it. It was creepy. It made a weird sort of sense. Even now I still get chills thinking about this concept.
The future version starts to see how things are changing. He experiences the memories because now things are changing. His goal is to save not only his life, but the life of his wife who he’d seen killed. Brilliant! There’s some maniac in the future that’s screwing everything up and closing all the loops. Present protag needs to kill future protag. The ‘boss’ is after both of them because as we know, letting the loop run is a bad thing. Awesome!
The future self somehow got knowledge of where this future bad guy came from. He knows the birthdate and hospital. He’s going to save the future by killing this kid.
Wait a minute. What?
This little flashback is weird. I kind of got it, but it felt like it came out of the blue. I was still okay. Future protag was remembering things present protag was doing and was able to avoid him and beat him. I was still okay. Future protag could see the effects of his actions on the future and take steps to make sure things went the way he wanted. This was getting a little twisted, but I figured things would work out. Let’s see where this goes.
Present protag ends up with one of the addresses of the kids that future protag is out to kill. By coincidence he ends up on the farm where the one kid future protag needs to kill to save the future. He likes the mom and the kids seems alright, so he’s out to protect them.
Meanwhile future protag doesn’t see any of this and has no memory even though he could remember everything else that had happened to future protag. <sigh>. So he kills one kid. Then the second kid is the son of present protag’s girlfriend. Kills that one as well even though present protag is with the one kid that needs to be killed. Well, I guess it’s better to be safe than sorry and just kill them all off, eh?
Of course we get to the paradoxical climax. Future protag is kills the girl and misses the kid. Present protag is too far away to do anything. Even though he’s been able to make corrections because of this loop that creates the future bad guys, he sees only one way to close this loop. Rather than know what he’s going to cause happen, he kills himself.
Okay, seriously? This guy was a forward thinker. He was able to change his present and future multiple times by seeing the result of his actions. But in the end when all is known, he kills himself? Why? He knows all he needs to do is kick the drug habit, not lead the life future self led, and presto, all is fixed. Perhaps he can even prevent being caught and brought back to the past. There are so many other options than killing himself.
I was on board with this movie right up until the end. I found the ending weak and lacking imagination. It felt like an easy way out from having to explain anything. It left me with the big question of why, if future protag can see how the action play out and remembers everything and present protag can make changes to the timeline was killing himself the ONLY option?
Now I understand that we don’t want another Groundhog Day type of movie (that was brilliant in its own right) but this all could have been accomplished better with multiple loops of trying to solve the riddle. Much like the original Time Machine where the time travelers keeps going back in time to save his fiancée only to realize that there’s no way to change the past once its written and the futility of his efforts lead him to other discoveries. Present protag could have done more or seen that no matter what he did, death was the only solution. How did he know that by killing himself the kid still wouldn’t grow up to be a monster in the future? We didn’t see that option play out or any other option. Why did future protag not see what was happening and realize?
The end was a mash of the end scene playing out once. Mom dies, kid rides off on a train and becomes the future bad guy. The memory loop would have impacted future protag just like it affected present protag. He could have ended the loop right there, but present protag saw it all play out when future protag was the one who would have seen the effects of his actions and been able to stop it. Not present protag.
I sighed. I mumbled. I groaned. I was happy with the movie right up until the ending. This movie could have ended a thousand different ways. They picked one of the ways that, in the end, I felt cheated. However, I will watch this movie again. Perhaps more than once. Twelve Monkeys had a similar loop just like this movie, but that one the present protag had no idea it was future protag that died and could do nothing to change the course of events. He could only realize at the last moment as he died what all the events meant and how they played out.
I love me some time travel. I’ll give this one a second chance. Perhaps there’s something I missed. Perhaps I’m being too cynical. Perhaps I just need to detach my brain when I watch a movie. There is a lot of good in the movie, I just wish it had ended differently. Not a strong finish to a strong movie.
That’s my opinion. What’s yours?
Until Next Time!