Looper

LOOPER is the new time travel related science fictional picture by Bruce Willis. But due to scheduling conflicts Bruce is only in part of the movie, most of the time he’s played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt (SHADOWBOXER) with a fake nose. This one is written and directed by Rian Johnson, the guy that did BRICK.

“Looper” is a made up futuristic word similar to how “Rian” is a made up spelling of a real name. I’m not buying either one. But I did like the movie.

Gordon-Levitt plays Joe, a “looper,” which he explains through a very large amount of narration is a hitman who stands in a field and then shoots a guy that gets sent back in time by the mob 30 years in the future when time travel has been invented. Sounds like a super easy job for those lacking in the scruples, but the catch is that if you’re gonna live for 30 more years they’ll send you back to be shot by yourself. Young-you gets a big bonus and you know for sure you get to live for 30 more years, but still. It’s gotta be a little stressful.

(Idea for future crimelords: send each looper to different looper to kill instead of trusting their younger selves to do it. I’m surprised you guys didn’t think of this, actually. It’s like, the clerk at the grocery store isn’t allowed to ring up his own groceries.)

So as we know from the trailer or possibly you’ve figured out just from reading this, Joe is gonna be asked to kill the older version of himself, played by Bruce. And you can imagine where it would go from there. Except actually probly not, because it didn’t take the route I expected, and then takes a couple other left turns without signalling. Drives over a median at one point, almost fucks up the tires, but seems to get away with it. Doesn’t get pulled over at least.

You know what, this is pretty much gonna have to be a SPOILER type of a review. This review can wait until you’ve seen it. I think it’s worth seeing, and almost everybody else seems to like it way more than I did, so you probly won’t regret it too much. Or you can read this first but I’m just warning you I’m gonna make it less enjoyable by giving you an idea where the story is going.

What surprised me is that it’s not a movie about the young Joe and old Joe working together to save their asses. No, young Joe is pissed that the old man is making a run for it, and he tries to cooperate with his bosses and kill his older self. ‘Cause if he kills him at least he gets 30 years and some money to live off of, but if he fails then the gang is gonna alter his future. The stakes are cleverly established in the earlier, horrifying scene where the future version of his friend Paul Dano escapes and soon begins to grow scars and lose body parts, telling him that his younger self has been captured and is being worked over. That’s one of the best scenes in the movie. I never seen a concept like that before.

Another part I like is the montage of all the Loopers celebrating after killing their older selves. They slam down drinks and want to party and their faces make it clear that if they weren’t doing this they’d be shitting their pants. A good depiction of willful ignorance and/or making the best of a bad situation.

It’s fun to see Gordon-Levitt imitating Bruce. He doesn’t mimic his voice, but he obviously studied the way he smiles, the things he does with his eyebrows, the way he holds his head, the way he stays quiet. Specifically, I believe he watched the scene from PULP FICTION where Bruce sits silently while Marcellus Wallace tells him what’s gonna happen at the boxing match.

But if we’re gonna have a fake-young Bruce Willis, is it fair that it’s a fake-young version of old Bruce Willis, the one we have now who’s quiet and serious? Wouldn’t it feel more real if Gordon-Levitt was doing wisecracking Blue Moon Detective Agency era Bruce, wearing sunglasses and singing “Doo Wah Diddy” and throwing a limbo party at the Looping Office? Wouldn’t busting out a harmonica be a good ol’ timey thing to put in there instead of the stop watch? Gordon-Levitt is 31, Bruce was 31 in ’86, toward the end of Moonlighting season 2, the year before Return of Bruno. If you’re gonna wear the man’s nose you oughta honor the attitude that went with it. And Curtis Armstrong should play his friend instead of Dano.

In some ways this LOOPER is designed like a big fuck-you to Bruce Willis. You’re constantly thinking about him because Gordon-Levitt is made up to look like him, but it takes a while to actually get to the real Bruce… and then he disappears again. Fake-Bruce is trying to kill Real-Bruce, calling him an “old man,” assuming he’s wrong about what he’s doing, overruling the greater experience and knowledge his older self has by definition. And worst of all, when the movie does briefly focus on Bruce’s character through a 30-year montage they give him long hair that makes him look like an idiot. (His main look for the movie is kind of a Gene Siskel around-the-sides look that for some reason makes his head look fatter than usual.)

But at least they didn’t ask Bruce to get made up to look like Gordon-Levitt. That they did the reverse is a sign of respect. And Bruce gets top billing even with way less screen time. That might’ve been some union rule though, I guess he’s technically the lead just because his nose appears in virtually every scene.

Anyway, young Joe is trying to track down old Joe to kill him. I like that, that’s a unique concept. This young protagonist is not a very good person, for example he makes the selfish decision to betray his friend for a bunch of silver. (OH MY GOD WAS IT 30 PIECES OF SILVER, HOLY SHIT I BET IT WAS. YOU KNOW WHAT THAT MEANS? THE BIBLE.) But then again old Joe is even more morally questionable, because he’s trying to save his wife. By murdering the child who’s gonna grow up to cause her death. Except also he doesn’t know for sure which child it is so his plan also involves murdering two innocent children, just to be safe. Cover all the bases.

This brings me to a small complaint I have about this movie. There are some things about these futures that are a little much. For example, I do not buy a future where people willingly call their guns “blunderbusses.” Even if that was the proper or brand name they would not throw that word around like it was cool, the way Dano does. What kind of word is that, something from Dr. Seuss or Willy Wonka? In fact, I’d sooner believe they would call them “chittychittybangbangs.” And I don’t really think it is that cool that in the future-future there’s a master criminal who calls himself “The Rainmaker” and maybe has a fake jaw (?) and makes his thugs wear ridiculous hats that are (SPOILER) apparently based on an action figure he had as a child. Or that we only see that allegedly awesome character as a pouty little boy. It’s a very good child performance but he’s playing kind of an annoying little shitbag.

Actually I have a bigger complaint about a thing in the middle that in my opinion is bad storytelling. You probly know what I’m talking about even if you didn’t have a problem with it yourself. It’s the part where Bruce comes back from the future and manages to escape without Gordon-Levitt shooting him. A little later we see him coming back from the future again, but this time he gets shot like he’s supposed to. Then there is a great montage of years passing as Gordon-Levitt lives his life and grows into (ridiculous-wigged) Bruce.

Watching the movie I didn’t know what had happened there. I was okay, I just went with it, figured they’d come back to it later and it would make sense. They didn’t come back to it later.

After discussing it with a couple people and listening to an interview with Johnson I think I understand what is supposed to happen there and the reason why it’s done that way. Basically, it’s shown out of order. If it was to go in order, we would skip that scene where he gets away, we’d first see him get shot, then young Joe grow into old Joe, then old Joe goes back in time and then he escapes.

Johnson didn’t want to do this, because if you were following old Joe as he escapes he felt that dramatically it would make it the escapee’s story, but he wants it to be the guy hunting him’s story.

Okay, fair enough, but I feel like if that’s your choice you gotta find a way to communicate what’s going on there, and the one you chose didn’t cut the mustard for me.

But admittedly I might have not been focusing hard enough ’cause I kept being distracted by these weird fuckin eyebrows:


Jesus.

Other than that sore thumb there though I think the storytelling is all very clean and elegantly explains what could be a convoluted sci-fi concept. I like the sort of half-assed futurism on display: there are some CGI cityscapes, there is a speeder bike (the technology for depicting these has apparently gone downhill since RETURN OF THE JEDI), but like DREDD it’s not BLADE RUNNERy at all, it’s pretty down to earth and lived in. And enough of it takes place in regular old farms and diners and shit that I saw the trailer a million times and had no idea it would take place in the future.

You know what, this is gonna sound like a joke but I swear to you there’s been more than 5, maybe as many as 10 times this week when somebody was saying something to me about LOOPER and at first I thought they said HOOPER. It would be cool if this movie caused a resurgence for HOOPER.

Gordon-Levitt has grown into a fine young man, I think we are all proud of him for doing a bunch of interesting movies, figuring out who Batman is, etc. He leads a good cast including a fun part for Jeff Daniels (BLOOD WORK), a sudden appearance by good ol’ Garret Dillahunt, and Emily Blunt is really good as a spunky lady who knows how to rack a shotgun and talk tough (although it would be more awesome if it was to threaten a bad guy instead of a retarded homeless man looking for food).

There’s a little bit of action, and it’s done pretty well, the old fashioned way where you point the camera at what’s going on. When Bruce gets a hold of some guns it’s got some of that excitement his part in EXPENDABLES 2 was supposed to have.

I don’t really agree with the rest of the world that there’s deep ideas in this movie, but there’s some unique twists on classic sci-fi concepts, and that’s good enough. I like the unpredictability of it turning into li’l CARRIE at the end, although I thought that section was less interesting than the earlier parts of the movie. But the way it ends, the way young Joe chooses to resolve everything, really makes the movie for me. It’s this old idea of “if you could travel through time to kill Hitler…” but this guy decides that you can’t make things better by figuring out the right kid to kill. His only shot is trying to give that kid a better life so maybe he won’t turn into a murderer with terrible, terrible taste in henchman uniforms. I mean seriously Rainmaker, I don’t mean to hammer on this topic too much but jesus christ dude. They look like the weasels from Roger Rabbit. You are not a cool villain. Work on the name, too. thanks.

Based on the intensity of the outpouring of love and support for this movie from both the internet and people I actually know, I feel a little out of step here. I mean I like it, but I don’t want to fuck it. When it was over I felt like that was enough, I don’t feel like I’ll necessarily want to watch it again. Trying to read about that weird transition that confused me I learned that there are theories about “Jeff Daniels is Kid Blue” and different symbolism and shit. I’m down with that kind of analysis of movies but for some reason the characters and world here don’t give me that kind of excitement where I want to know more about them or see what’s beneath the surface or anything.

Maybe this Rian Johnson and I just aren’t on the same wavelength. I remember my feeling on BRICK at the time was that it was well directed, but I just couldn’t get past the inherent corniness of the premise that it’s a hard boiled detective story only get this, it’s TEENS! I had this plan that I would give his second movie a shot. But then I saw the beginning of a movie somebody was playing and asked “What is this fake Wes Anderson shit?” and that’s when I decided to pass on THE BROTHERS BLOOM. (I know some say it’s good.)

Of the two Rian Johnson joints I’ve seen LOOPER is by far my favorite. He’s definitely improving. I’ll try to watch the next one. It’s great to watch a movie unfold and not know where it’s going, and ultimately feel like it did some new things and wasn’t based on any obvious formulas. It’s way better than Bruce’s SURROGATES, and quite possibly Gordon-Levitt’s GI JOE: THE RISE OF COBRA.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, October 9th, 2012 at 2:16 am and is filed under Bruce, Reviews, Science Fiction and Space Shit. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

71 Responses to “Looper”

  1. Wow that Fake Bruce icon is amazing.

  2. a spoiler review eh? well looks like I can’t read it since I want to see this

  3. I understand your gripe with putting the two execution scenes out of sequence – it’s jarring, but intentionally so. It’s supposed to confuse us, and then comes back around to make sense – maybe watch the film again in a few months and see how you find it a second time around. Or not, y’know.

  4. I had that same reaction at the execution scenes. Luckily, my friend cleared it up for me and I was able to go along with it. Overall, I had about the same reaction as you, Vern. It was pretty good, and I’m glad that it was violent enough to be R-rated but it didn’t blow me away.

    When you start to think about the premise at all, it falls apart pretty quick. I mean, the mafia has control of time travel? Huh? How? And they use it to kill people? Instead of using it to make a billion dollars? And it’s impossible to get away with killing people in the future-future, but the quakers/mafia kill Bruce Willis’s chinese wife and don’t even worry about it? Huh?

    Ugh, so frustrating, this movie! I still liked it though!

  5. Mike Friend of Jason

    October 9th, 2012 at 7:58 am

    Did I get this wrong or did young Bruce have sex with his mother? That to me raised the question “what if she got preggers and THAT kid goes up to be Rainmaker?”

  6. Yeah, WTF, “Rainmaker”?

    Terrible bad guy name.

    If you want a good bad guy name, you don’t pick tough sounding or extravagant words: it’s trying to hard, it connotes overcompensation, lack of confidence, insecurity.

    You pick a banal, neutral word that has no easy associations. Because then it brings no prejudicial baggage with it, and becomes an object for us to project our fears onto.

    Well, except for “Keyser Soze”. That’s just a great name for a bad guy.

    Cue Mr. Pink and Mr. Brown complaining…

  7. I liked this movie more than Vern. At the end I was blowing kisses to the credits until everyone around me said to stop and never, ever, do it again. I’d go to third base with this film, and maybe home plate if it buys me dinner the second time around.

    That being said, I did have one thought while watching the film: the Rainmaker doesn’t seem that bad. I mean, they portray him as being something on par with Hitler, but what does he do aside from wipe out other criminal organizations? If there’s genocide I’m not seeing it, and it’s not like he’s going to Martin Sheen humanity a.l.a THE DEAD ZONE. Even the things he does to old Bruce are things Young Bruce agreed to; it’s not like he was a dick and cut the promised 30 years short (which I thought they were going to when the young Loopers mention the influx of old Loopers at the party scene early in the movie). No, he honors the deal, and then makes good on the agreement. Hell, he didn’t even kill Bruce’s wife. That comes off more as a mistake on the part of a trigger happy Quaker (and yes, Vern’s right, they do look ridiculous; Quakers in China, come on).

    So I would raise that as my legitimate concern, which isn’t to say Vern’s aren’t; I get most of them, although I’ll offer a rebuttal to offing other people’s Loopers. In this future no one trusts anyone with their money, especially when it’s their live savings gold payment. While your idea makes sense, in a world where a friend offers up his buddy to save his stash points to a very narrow window of trust amongst associates. Furthermore, from a character standpoint, I think the syndicates make you kill your older self in order to make you complicit in your own murder, thereby solidifying your promise to spend the next 30 years not making noise as you live the good life. Nothing like guilt and culpability to keep a person in line.

  8. I’ve got a chance to go to this or Argo. Trying to stay spoiler-free. Which one do you guys recommend more?

  9. I really liked it, but my main gripe is definitely Levitt’s make-up. It is really. really distracting. I didn’t even notice any BRUCE resemblance, he looks more like a drag queen version of Harvey Keitel or an angrier Jude Law circa A.I.

    But yes, it has definitely looped it’s way into my top films of the year. Seeing it without knowing much about it apart from it being a time travel also helped. I got the rare treat of, not only knowing the film was going to go in a The Fury direction, but also getting a little surprise on seeing decent actors appear in a film I didn’t know they were in.

    But seriously, that make-up. Fucking hell, what is going on with it? Between this and Guy Pearce’s saggy cheeks in Prometheus, I’m starting to think that the make-up on films is getting left to the work experience kids to do.

  10. Bad Seed – somebody else I talked to brought up the thing about the gold. But it just seems like it would be easier to find a different way to pay the people than to keep chasing after escaped loopers.

    But that’s not a very serious criticism. I don’t think it weakens the movie much, if at all. This review is kind of in the spirit of a roast. The movie has received enough praise, it needs to get teased a little bit so its head doesn’t get too big.

  11. Didn’t Rian say that the reason they had to close their own loop was so they couldn’t hunt the looper the killed them down and stop the loop, because you can’t kill yourself, so the loop will be stopped one way or another.

    I find it interesting that one of the film that inspired Looper the most was Witness, even thought I thought the middle reminded me more of the 30 minutes break in the middle of T2 where we get to know the character and develop their relationship.

  12. Hooper! Fuck yeah!

  13. @ANoniMouse: Depends on what you’re up for. One of the TV blurbs for Looper called it “The action movie of the year!”, and the TV spot that went with it was clearly emphasizing that side of it. It’s more drama than sci-fi, and the action parts are rather limited but still good. Saw it last weekend, and yes, it’s worth a look.

    Argo (from what I’ve read) begins as a drama, veers off into comedy, then settles back into a drama for its third act. It’s been well-reviewed thus far, but there’s nothing about it that’s piquing my interest.

    If it’s an either/or decision… I’d go with Looper.

  14. Dude, by all means, roast away! As you say, it doesn’t take away (too much) from the overall film. I will say that after SCOTT PILGRIM and KICKASS it’s nice to side with the rabid geek majority this time. Oh, to belong!

    But the contrarian in me must add: nit pick or not, the Rainmaker = not such a Big Bad.

    Ghost: I liked your idea (or the idea attributed to Rian), but then thought about it some more. It wouldn’t do any good to kill the Looper who killed your older self, because killing them after the fact wouldn’t prevent their shooting old you. By then it’s already happened. Unless the thinking is that someone could break into Looper Central Command, find the name of the Looper who will off them, and then kill them beforehand. Of course, since no one knows when the Old You will get sent back you’d have to keep killing each assigned Looper, or else have have preternaturally good timing to do it just when Old You shows up. A dicey proposition.

    Man, aren’t time travel conversations fun? Let’s break out some diagrams and shit.

  15. Old Joe says that as the timeline shifts, he can begin to get a fuzzy idea of multiple potentialities until they coalesce into a new reality. I took the narrative hiccup of Old Joe’s escape/Old Joe’s death as a scene from Young Joe’s subjective perspective, vaguely remembering the future.

    And then the sequence that came afterward. I found that really powerful. I even loved that they gave Willis a shitty hipster comb-over instead of giving JGL a Bruce Willis cut. Also, you see JGL worrying about his hairline several times early on and it makes total sense for a doomed man to cling desperately to his fading youth. Honestly, Old Joe’s terrible wig was one of the best character moments in the film.

  16. Time travel exists in 2094, but not in 2044. In 2094 everyone has a little chip in them that sends off a beacon when they die. So, they have to send the person back in time to kill them so that the beacon doesn’t go off and the person just blinks out of existence.

    The mob controls time travel because time travel is so clearly unsafe. Everyone’s terrified of destroying the universe through time travel, so they can’t really use it for big stuff. That could fuck *everything* up. Instead, they use it for a fairly trivial task because it has minimal opportunity to fuck up with timeline. The Looper has to kill his older self because that leaves the fewest loose ends in the timeline and just *feels* safer to TPB.

    Of course, the real issue is that, since time travel exists, why not send everyone back to like, 5 minutes apart, then have one dude there, or a team of dudes there, to deal with the mess. Much easier since, no matter when you start from, you can always go back to the exact same place.

    Three things really confused me: what was up with that call Bruce got alerting him to the location of the Rainmaker as a child? Why did the Rainmaker’s mother know what a Looper is? Do Loopers keep working as assassins after their Loop comes back, or is that the end of the road for them?

  17. Oh, also, how does this world deal with the fact that new matter keeps popping up. Where is this matter coming from? But I guess that’s an inherent problem in all time travel.

  18. Seems the biggest gripe some people have is the makeup. It’s a choice they made. You may agree or not but does it have to ruin the whole film? I mean, MOONLIGHTING Bruce as a CGI character would have been fun too but they didn’t make that choice. I think ARGO has a problem more distracting the Fake Bruce’s makeup but it’s getting a pass.

    The time travel thoughts are fun but ultimately any time travel movie decides this is how it works, because it doesn’t actually exist and any time travel story will have holes. I think it’s more interesting the way the film handles those questions and offers up possibilities and themes. And just the idea of Bruce Willis beating up his younger self is amazing. Take that, you little punk.

    Never thought Abe was Kid Blue. That’s awesome.

  19. I must admit I didn’t have a problem with JGL’s make-up but I can see why it would bother some. It certainly seemed unnecessary. We simply didn’t need it.

    What I did have a problem with was how the film, for me, ended up squandering some great ideas that where set up during the first half to focus on such a dull and obvious left turn that drained the film of all it’s energy. But for all that, the film has stayed with me.

    I’ll stay clear of spoilers* but those of you who’ve seen it know where it veers off.

    BTW, Johnson was asked if Abe was indeed Kid Blue – here’s his answer:

    http://screencrush.com/rian-johnson-interview-looper-time-travel-logistics-and-transformations/

    You’ll need to scroll down.

    *Nobody likes a Looper pooper.

  20. Kid Blue is a wonderful, tragic character. He definitely seems like he’s Abe in the past, but I don’t think Abe has ever told him this. Still, Kid Blue has been figuring it out. The pressure of knowing what he is destined to become has ruined Kid Blue and resulted in all sorts of silly affectations and tough guy posturing that prevent him from ever becoming the man he was destined to be.

    Oh, and how is Abe getting in the info on where and when Loops will show up? And, given that time travel is real…why do they even need more than one Looper?

  21. About that middle part. I understood it fine. I mean, at first, I thought Young Joe was just dreaming about what he could have done instead, since he’d just gotten knocked out, but I soon figured out it was just the first way round the timeline.
    “It’s way better than Bruce’s SURROGATES, and quite possibly Gordon-Levitt’s GI JOE: THE RISE OF COBRA.”
    Wait, is Bruce’s character in RETALIATION an older version of Gordon-Levitt’s from RISE OF COBRA?

    I liked the sort of handwave of the basic problem of every time travel movie plot not making sense, by having Old Joe not want to talk about because they’d be there all day drawing diagrams with straws. The way they handled the younger selves’ injuries showng up on the older incarnations was also used in the Dennis Quaid/Jim Caveziel movie FREQUENCY.

    SPOILERS FROM THIS POINT ON

    Bad Seed- I think Dano’s older self says that the Rainmaker wasn’t just closing Loops and taking over all the syndicates, but was also mass executing vagrants. And the guy who gave Old Joe the number was seemingly in the middle of a fucking warzone when he phoned him. It seemed like the guy wasn’t just becoming a crimeboss, but some sort of dictator.

    I also believe he didn’t come up with his own nickname. When Joe first sees him use his powers on Dillahunt(who of course played a Terminator in The Sarah Conner Chronicles, so his casting felt like a bit of a callback), he calls him the Rainmaker because he sees the kid explode a guy in mid-air and cause his blood and stuff to rain down.

    I don’t personally think Jeff Daniels was the older version of Kid Blue. More likely his father(if even in the foster sense) because of how much the kid looked up to him. Otherwise, everything Kid Blue did to find Joe he would have known about and wouldn’t be surprised when he showed up.

    I was a little confused about the law enforcement in this movie, because Daniels’ gang is called The Gatmen and when Dillahunt shows up a the farmhouse, she treats him like he has that sort of authority and I think they’re shown using police-type vehicles at one point.

    How did Blunt know what a Looper was? Is it possible the phrase is known in the city, but just vaguely as slang for a hitman?

  22. The only part of the makeup that was distracting was the eyebrows, but fuck me, they were bad. He looked like a Thai lady boy at times. What really sold the role were the little mannerisms – very Bruce.

    The only hole that really came to mind was the one where Bruce said he felt echoes of the pain when JGL did stuff to himself. Shouldn’t Old Dano have been AGONIZED at the point of the surgery? And have known what was coming – at least at an abstract level? Plus I’d have expected Bruce to react when he nutshot JGL and slammed his head into the table at the restaurant.

    Other than that, fucking awesome movie. And that surgery scene was horrific.

  23. Also, a blunderbuss is a technically accurate name.

    http://www.militaryheritage.com/musket9.htm

    If Jesse Ventura was a 19th century commando, that’s the shit he’d have been carrying.

  24. “Watching the movie I didn’t know what had happened there. I was okay, I just went with it, figured they’d come back to it later and it would make sense. They didn’t come back to it later.”

    Vern – I thought it was very fucking obvious clear from the get go it was the “original” timeline. Like what if TERMINATOR showed us how Sarah Connor lived before Skynet middled with time travel? Did those movies ever show what the original non-molested timeline was? No so we didn’t need to come back to it later. I thought it made very clear (but not clear enough apparently) this is how JGL would’ve lived originally, and it gives good motivation to Willis’s deeds and even really shows you how he destroys himself because he thinks he’s doing the right thing. (That scene of him breaking down after the you know what, man that’s great acting. Bruce Willis has always been underrated, and that was a good example.)

    I’m surprised by people who were baffled by what was going on. I mean this shit aint BUCKAROO BANZAI people. Or even INCEPTION.

    Then again some times I fear some moviegoers (not in this thread mind you) get scared and panic whenever something happens in a movie that they don’t understand immediately. (How do they survive murder mysteries?) Dear lord, give a movie a chance on the hunch that it might know what the fuck its doing and pay off somehow.

    Oh and LOOPER rocks. I even liked JGL’s eyebrows. They didn’t distract me anymore than most (good) make-up performances.

  25. Ok, I didn’t see anyone else making is point and if I missed it then I apologize, but this really bugged me. In Bruce’s future, with the weasels and all, why the hell would they even have guns? The whole premise is that you can’t get rid of bodies, right? What do they do with the wife’s body? Having guns only makes the whole thing dangerous and difficult, right? It made me think that the Rainmaker was an idiot.

  26. “What do they do with the wife’s body? ”

    Owen – remember they set the house on fire? Dig out the bullet, toss the body in there, we’re good!

    (Good thing JGL’s character wasn’t too far away for the climax or else some people online would complain how he got back there in under 24 hours.)

  27. I liked but didn’t love LOOPER. Though the change of gears really killed the energy of the first half, I did appreciate that I had no idea where the third act was going until we got there. As far as “Fake Bruce” goes, I was bugged by JGL’s contacts. Looked like a creepy robot when they cut between his and Bruce’s eyes.

    My nerdy nitpicky question:
    So the mob doesn’t murder people because it’s impossible to cover up a killing because of tracking sensors or whatever. I assume the whatever-it-is sends a signal immediately upon a person’s death. But what happens when a person gets sent 40 years back in time? Wouldn’t whatever’s tracking all this see the person completely disappearing from the face of the earth? If the authorities are aware that “looping” is going on, you’d think they’d be looking for this. Plus if they got GPS in there, wouldn’t it show where the victims were right before they disappeared, thus revealing the location of an illegal time machine? The machine they showed didn’t look too portable, I think.

  28. Yep…in one of the initial Paul Dano scenes, he comments that in the future, the “Rainmaker” (as in “Reign of Terror”) singlehandedly takes over the five major cities in a matter of days through mass executions and “vagrant purges”… sounds pretty Third Reichish to me! I really, really, really loved this movie….. but I’ve been a Johnson convert since his wonderfully underrated “The Brothers Bloom”.

  29. I’m with Vern on this one, except I didn’t have a problem with “blunderbuss” (It’s a legit word.) or most of the odd future costumes. Shit in different times is gonna look weird to those belonging to our time.

    It’s a good movie, with bits of greatness and plenty of erroneousness that most rave reviews are ignoring/downplaying or mentioning solely in the spirit of Bruce’s “straw diagrams” dismissal. Of course we should all be happy to get some competent, original sci-fi action in our mainstream cinematism. Worth the ticket price for me, but probably not 2 tickets.

    My favorite aspect of LOOPER is the soundtrack. “I Want to See the Brights Light Tonight” has been one of my favorite songs for a long time, and I’m happy to now associate it with an impressive, striking white-out mise-en-scene featuring naked Piper Perabo.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=57PENuNVapc

    And this track is groovy: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a6NtyLir05g

    If I’m gonna rewatch LOOPER, it’ll be because I’m interested in how its themes align with those of MACBETH. Yeah, Vern, like every semi-literate westerner with an above-Forrest Gump mental capacity, caught the obvious Biblical imagery, but I think it was so obvious & superficial that it wasn’t even intended by Ryan “Rian” Johnson to be taken seriously. For this story, it just made sense to have bricks of precious metals (imprinted with bureaucratic gibberish?) as currency in the future. I hope people aren’t dense enough to allow such cursory symbolism/allusions to fool them into overrating the intelligence of LOOPER, I dunno; those rave reviews must have some basis that I’m not seeing.

    Anyway, for me, fuck The Bible — all roads go back to Shakespeare.

    MACBETH is a lot of fun. It’s the O.G. mindbender. It twists the notions of past/present/future, the doomed cyclicality of the march of time & fate, and the psychology of changing past/present/future in ways that haven’t been topped — in art, philosophy, or science — since. Maybe LOOPER can remind more people of that.

    If it were done when ’tis done, then ’twere well
    It were done quickly: if the assassination
    Could trammel up the consequence, and catch
    With his surcease success; that but this blow
    Might be the be-all and the end-all here,
    But here, upon this bank and shoal of time,
    We’d jump the life to come. But in these cases
    We still have judgment here; that we but teach
    Bloody instructions, which, being taught, return
    To plague the inventor: this even-handed justice
    Commends the ingredients of our poison’d chalice
    To our own lips.

    And this passage on the empty materialism, inebriation, & overbearing melancholy of a Looper realizing he has only 30 years of the good life remaining (though that amount of time would have been okay in filthy Elizabethan England), as death has arrived unnaturally and by his own hand:

    Nought’s had, all’s spent,
    Where our desire is got without content;
    ‘Tis safer to be that which we destroy
    Than by destruction dwell in doubtful joy.

    And this passage concerning the logistics & potential inevitability of the ineffectiveness of the choice to kill lil Rainmaker (By the way, the little kid in this movie did an amazing job. Scary little fucker.), and/or to kill oneself, to close the loop:

    We have scorch’d the snake, not kill’d it:
    She’ll close and be herself, whilst our poor malice
    Remains in danger of her former tooth.
    But let the frame of things disjoint, both the worlds suffer,
    Ere we will eat our meal in fear and sleep
    In the affliction of these terrible dreams
    That shake us nightly. Better be with the dead,
    Whom we, to gain our peace, have sent to peace,
    Than on the torture of the mind to lie
    In restless ecstasy.

    In conclusion, I apologize to my future self for sort of comparing LOOPER to arguably *the* greatest piece of literature in all human history.

  30. Stu & Joseph: the Vagrant purges do make him more sinister, no doubt. And it’s interesting talking about the war zones; I actually thought they were hinting that the mafias had grown so powerful that they had their own armies. After all, it looked like a general calling Old Bruce with the numbers, but for that to make sense he must be tied up in the underworld somehow. Food for thought!

    I still say what he did to Old Bruce wasn’t that evil though. His 30 years were up, and really his wife was a mistake. Then again, I think that might have been the point on Rian’s part. Bruce’s actions are supposed to fall into a gray area.

  31. The Original... Paul

    October 9th, 2012 at 6:39 pm

    Vern, I thought I was the only one who noticed the terrible JGL wig on Bruce during that montage. The next time I watch “Die Hard”, I won’t be able to un-see it. It will be there. Taunting me.

    Stu – until Emily Blunt did such a bad job of taking on the guys chasing JGL and Bruce, it looked like she might be a looper herself. I’m still not convinced that she isn’t one (it would explain her unconvincing fear at JGL, followed by her very real ferocity when JGL brings out her son’s hospital details. Incidentally, who the heck remembers numbers like those?) Doesn’t explain how badly she falls apart when she’s being chased, though.

  32. I haven’t seen this yet. Probably won’t until it comes to disc or satellite or something. But I wanted to quickly mention that while I liked (but didn’t love) Brick, I think Rian Johnson has done some excellent work on the episodes of Breaking Bad he has directed.

  33. Blunderbuss is a real word, but it’s also an incredibly stupid word. I have a hard time believing that everyone starts calling guns “blunderbusses” any time in the future. It was just silly every time they said it.

    SPOILERS BELOW

    I don’t think we were supposed to think that Joe (neither young version or old) is a good person. I don’t think we’re even supposed to think his actions fall in a gray area. He’s pretty clearly doing evil shit throughout the entire movie. Just because he falls in love with someone attractive, doesn’t negate any of that. That’s why we’re supposed to be happy at the end when he kills himself. That’s the best thing he could do is to remove himself from the entire equation.

    On a more nitpicky note, if it was so easy to get away with murder (Bruce’s wife) then why do they even bother with the time machines?

  34. MORE SPOILERS

    Here’s a question I had at the end: Is everybody that Bruce killed in the movie now alive again because Not-Bruce killed himself? I’m not sure they made that clear.

  35. ANoniMouse:: If it’s an either/or decision, I’d go with TIME CRIMES.

  36. Man, Vern, whenever I see a Wes Anderson movie all I can think is “What is this fake Harold and Maude shit?”

    But I really, really like The Brothers Bloom. I’m surprised that movie isn’t talked about more often.

    I’ve not seen Looper, but I imagine a lot of the goofy things that undercut the seriousness and reality of the film would get to me as well.

    Also, for what it’s worth, this is my favorite review of yours in a while, Vern. It’s hilarious and makes some points that I can only assume are astute. Awesome review, great job!

  37. I thought a “blunderbuss” was a specific type of weapon that projects random debris in the general direction at which it is aimed; ie you would only call a regular bullet-oriented gun a blunderbuss if you were disparaging the weapon’s accuracy. Hence the scene in SEXY BEAST where Aitch derides the child’s gun and says “You ain’t gonna hit fuckall with that blunderbuss!”

    That said I believe it is an extraordinarily cool word and can totally get behind any future that agrees with me that the word is cool. What the hell is wrong with you peoples’ taste in words?

    LOOPER: Yeah, are you guys saying this movie actually puts forth a believable explanation of why the most convenient way of killing people is to send them into the past? In that case I might have to check a fucker out…

  38. Yes, the loopers appear to use actual blunderbusses, or modified types of blunderbuss-ish near-blunderbusses. But it’s still a legit word for the setting, the movie’s world, in almost the same way that today everyone (in the US at least) says “band aid” to refer to a sterile adhesive bandage.
    Or “q tip” for a cotton-swab-tipped paper stick.
    Or “rifle” or “gun” for a particular carbine weapon system.
    Or “remote” for a remote control device. Or “mammaries” for breasts.

    None of those words we use is 100% correct, for nitpickers coming from a strict prescriptivist linguistic standpoint, but we all know what we mean when we say them.

  39. Well I certainly understand what you are so cheekily saying, Mouth, I just didn’t realize that “blunderbuss” was one such a term. I mean obviously all squares are rectangles but most people wouldn’t call a non-square rectangle a square now would they? I mean, it’s okay to use a more general term to represent a more specific one, but calling a rifle a shotgun or v.v. would be misleading wouldn’t it?

  40. Boy, I just love LOOPER unconditionally. I agree with every artistic choice Rian Johnson made. I understand that some of those choices wouldn’t appeal to everybody, but they all just hit my sweet spot.

    I guess it’s like MISSION IMPOSSIBLE GHOST PROTOCOL, how some people saw the action movie of their dreams and other people just saw going through the tired motions. It’s art, man, it’s art!

  41. Mouth, I want people to stop saying “titular” when they mean the title or eponymous or titleistic character. What can we do?

  42. Obviously I know the correct term is “titleistical,” Fred; I just like to exercise some wacky wordsmithmanship and mix it up every once in a while.

  43. Mouth, you’ll never believe this but I posted this before I read the Hellbound thread. I just equated titular with brand name abuse.

  44. It was as though I was responding to something you, Fred, were saying about something you would read in your future, but in my past, and then you came back and linked my past post with your more recent past post in response to your future that has just become our past[s].

    Loopy, dude… very loopery.

  45. The Original... Paul

    October 11th, 2012 at 3:38 pm

    You’re all bloody loopy if you ask me!

    Spoilerific question: what was the point of Piper Perabo’s child? Apart from the effect it had on a grief-driven-insane Bruce?

  46. The Original... Paul

    October 11th, 2012 at 3:41 pm

    And on a completely unrelated topic (sorry), the quote of the week from last week was Dolph in “Universal Soldier: Regeneration”, I know that. (And what a fucking fantastic moment it was.) The latest quote though, I don’t know. Is it Brakus?

  47. It’s Boyka, you mook.

    Proud to say that I’m batting 1.000 on all the quotes so far. Recognized them immediately, largely thanks to attending Professor Vern’s class the last couple years.

  48. Paul, I think you might be the first person to comment on the quotes in the corner, so in your honor I have changed it to a BEST OF THE BEST 2 quote.

    Now back to Looper

  49. I just watched this and thought it was a good, well-done SF movie with a bit of action and thoughtful pondering on going back in time to kill Hitler and the difference of thought of someone young and the same person old. I liked how the movie made the actions of both understandable. Both were selfish but in different ways.

    I had a little bit of issue with the whole conceptual cause and effect of the future that creates the Rainmaker. Because he would only exist because young Bruce didn’t do his job and then let his old self kill rainmaker’s mother. In the first iteration of the timeline, old Bruce is killed as he was supposed to be so the Rainmaker shouldn’t exist in his timeline.

    But I let quibbles like that go, which is also why old Bruce dismissing the whole time travel discussion worked, because it was not pertinent to the story, which is that of young Bruce bonding with the kid and figuring out that how he is brought up matters.

  50. The make-up killed it for me.

    actually what I found interesting was I saw the preview for this movie a month or so ago, and I swear to god that awful awful make-up wasn’t in it. they must have added it in post-post production or something.

    also [spoiler]

    WHY DIDN’T HE JUST SHOOT HIS HAND OFF?!
    [/spoiler]

  51. Boy the makeup is just a deal breaker for some people. Why is it such a big deal? There were two ways to do it and they chose one. We see so many movies where they don’t put prosthetics on the young actor playing a character. Why not one where they do? It’s still Levitt’s performance.

    And I couldn’t believe how much action is in this. I figured it would be one of those movies where they have a few beats but nothing big because it’s not like that. But the fight in Levitt’s apartment, the flying bikes, and all with clear camerawork revealing each beat, awesome.

  52. So I finally got around to watching this, mostly because I read somewhere (on Twitch or Chud or Aintitcool… I can’t remember) that somebody thought that LOOPER was this generations TERMINATOR, only better. That’s some good hyperbole, and it convinced me to rent the film. And now, I gotta wave my bullshit flag. LOOPER is an alright way to pass an hour or two, but I can’t fathom it besting TERMINATOR. And I’m not coming from some place of nostalgia, I don’t own Terminator on DVD or Blu ray. Hell, I couldn’t tell you the last time I watched it. But I can tell you that it was more entertaining than LOOPER.

  53. Yeah, TERMINATOR didn’t have telekinetic magic tricks casually introduced and then converted into a bafflingly primary psychic superhero quality & plot development in my opinion, so that comparison doesn’t hold up.

    LOOPER’s chicks are hotter, though, I’ll give it that.

  54. I liked it, mostly. Lots of cool, weird elements, good action, interesting characters. Wasn’t bothered so much by the nose or the eyebrows, but the contacts were a distraction. He looked like he had stripper eyes. Plus, I didn’t buy that anyone who has an interest in surviving a gunfight in a world where machine guns exist would choose to carry a single-action six-shooter. We all have our affectations but most of them won’t get us killed.

    But those are quibbles. My only real problem is that the movie is full of shit. As Cassidy pointed out, the Rainmaker never exists unless Real Bruce kills his mom and shoots him in the face, yet that doesn’t jibe with what we know of the alternate future where Bruce’s wife dies. This is not a nitpick. This is the plot of the movie. Plus, I can’t figure out what caused there to be an alternate future in the first place. Why was the loop closed the first time but left open the second? Is there free will within a closed loop system of time travel, allowing Bruce to go along with his assassination once but not twice? Is it just that his wife didn’t die the first time, or are we supposed to just not think about this gaping chasm of story logic because Bruce made a joke about straws?

    I don’t know, man, this reeks of what the oath for the Detection Club would call “jiggery-pokery.” This is not a plot that adds up, like, at all. So I can get down with this movie’s details but the broad strokes are pretty weak.

  55. EMERGENCY!ALERT!ALERT! I NEED TO UNDERSTAND THIS MOVIE!

    A problem with LOPPER is I don´t know which character to root for. Should I root for Bruce or JGL? What future Bruce knows, does not present (past?)Bruce (JGL) know, so future Bruce´s motives is not something that present (past?) Bruce (JGL) know anything about, so the movie presents at the second half as future Bruce as a villain because he wants to kill the rainmaker,which if I understand is the young Bruce (not JGL) who apparantly has some kind of telekinesis abilities that neither future Bruce or present Bruce has although they seem to be the same…

    Waitwaitwait. How does the kid exist in the same timeframe as JGL, if they are supposed to be the same character?

    Now would someone explain this confusing fucking movie to me? What did I miss? I don´t get it. I am utterly confused. I fucking need a diagram,please.

  56. Shoot, (SPOILERS) JGL and Bruce are both Joe at different times in his life, but the kid with telekinesis is the Rainmaker. JLG & Bruce are not the Rainmaker. If I understand the movie correctly Bruce aka old Joe wants to kill the Rainmaker in attempt to change the future and save his wife, but what he does not realize is that in trying to change the future he is actually laying the ground work for the kid with telekinesis to grow up to become the Rainmaker and eventually kill Joe and his wife. (SUPER BIG SPOILERS) That is why JGL aka young Joe kills himself, because it is the only way to stop old Joe and save the boy’s mother so that he does not grow up to become the Rainmaker. Young Joe killing himself brakes the loop and changes the future.

  57. What about that premonition or whatever with the kid on the train?

  58. But if he did kill the kid (which is his purpose), that shit would change the future,right? But he does not know that he fails? So it is pre-destined?

  59. It comes out on DVD in a few weeks, then I’m finally gonna watch it.

    Until then: http://youtu.be/NDUlpi_wQ7E

  60. It’s not really a premonition, he’s just thinking about how the future will go if he doesn’t take action.

    My main complaint with the movie is that because Bruce is the future version of JGL, he knows everything JGL knows. He doesn’t know the future of JGL because it’s in flux, but he knows everything that has happened. Therefore, as JGL changes his mind about the kid, so too should Bruce change his mind because he’s getting new information. And most assuredly, SPOILER SPOILER SERIOUSLY, BIG SPOILER the moment JGL makes up his mind to kill Bruce, Bruce should remember that moment happening and react accordingly. Doesn’t really make much sense. In fact, as soon as Bruce fails to kill the kid as happened originally, history should be re-arranged in some other way, possibly without Bruce’s wife dying at all.

  61. I guess this is the time I should call the movie complete bullshit. How would any one seperate it from being a premonition to being a reflection of a possible future?

  62. Because the skill of premonition is at this stage of a movie full of X-men bullshit not entirely unfeasible from an audience perspective, that´s why I thought it to be a quite “realistic” interpretation of the events that followed.

  63. (SPOILERS) I might not be doing the best job of explaining this complicated story so please forgive me, but it is my understanding the premonition or whatever on the train was showing the audience how the kid would lose his mother and developed a hatred for loopers that would set him on a path to becoming the Rainmaker and eventually killing old Joe’s wife. Old Joe doesn’t realize that in is his attempt to kill the child and change the future he is creating the future timeline he comes from where his wife is murder that he is trying to avoid. If young Joe did not stop him from killing the boy’s mother he would have been doomed to old Joe’s fate. Because young Joe kills himself the mother survives and it is implied that with her in his life to raise him right the rainmaker will grow up to use his power for good instead of evil. Young Joe broke the circle of violence he was doomed to create as an old man, and you could argue that he did something heroic in sacrificing himself to save the boy’s mother. Not only was he changing the future for the better but it was a moment of redemption for a character that was willing to sell out his best friend for money earlier in the film.

  64. I think I get it,Charles. But it´s still convoluted bullshit,unlike TERMINATOR and I hate this movie still. But, thanks a lot Charles for clearing a lot up.

  65. Mr. S, (SPOILERS) the kid never dies in the (original) timeline old Joe is from. It is the mother being killed in fornt of the boy that puts the child on a path to becoming the Rainmaker and creates the future timeline old Joe is from. The future is not altered until young Joe kills himslef and saves the boy’s mother.

  66. Shoot, I agree that the story of the TERMINATOR is much more straight forward and less complicated. I didn’t find LOOPER to be confusing. I though Rian did a good job handling the time travel elements but it still ended up being confusing for you and a lot of other people that saw the film. Your experience with the movie speaks to the point I was discussing in the other thread about how hard it is to present time travel in film without it becoming a big complicated silly mess.

  67. Charles- funny thing is, I watched this movie last week and I did not realise until we had this discussion now the problem I had with this movie. I guess the concept was handled as good as it could have been. But right now I just can´t cope with all this bullshit. It just angers me. Hopefully time will make me more forgiven towards this particular movie.

  68. As usual with an “intelligent” sci-fi movie, it gives all the impressions of a complex riddle to solve, but there isn’t any real answer. What are the rules here? No coherent set seems possible. Some magic/suspension of belief is required, which insults all our attempts to keep up.

    I learned this lesson the hard way, way back with LOST HIGHWAY. (What’s going on…so intriguing… Oh. Nothing. Gibberish. Sorry I asked.) So then pseudo-thoughts like INCEPTION or SOURCE CODE didn’t bother me. But LOOPER kept giving the impression it was well worked out, that the questions could be answered and the hard thinking would be worth the time. Wrong. JGL shooting himself at the end is exactly as deep as Willis shooting himself at the end of DIE HARD 4.

    Defending this kind of storytelling is equivalent to the “hey, it ain’t shakespeare” fallacy. Yes, it’s a time travel movie. But there’s TERMINATOR, and then there’s TIMECOP. Don’t be TIMECOP.

  69. Just saw this. I enjoyed it a lot, then less, then more as it went on, but the end was very predictable. The ‘Be at…’ scar scene with teh older Paul Dano seemed very clever. Pleased to see Garrett Dillahunt too. Judging by the deleted scenes, they should have left them all in.

    Bruce now needs to make a third time travel movie to complete his TWELVE MONKEYS/LOOPER/??? trilogy.

    I also had the problem with the initial Bruce vs Bruce unshooting, shooting, unshooting scene, and I guess I still do. It’s reminiscent of a scene from a Philip K Dick book where someone throws a kind of time displacement grenade and the relevant passage is cut and pasted to the end of the book. Except that one made instant sense to me.

    Also pleased to see Vern calling a speeder bike a speeder bike. Very telling that.

  70. Nice review, Vern. I was wondering about the whole middle part too. SPOILER ALERT! Young Joe seemed to have it more together when he told Old Joe that he just shouldn’t get together with his Chinese wife. That way she wouldn’t have been killed off. Duh! And also, his wife straightened him out, I was thinking that Old Joe wasn’t a gangster anymore, then why would the Rainmaker gang still be after him?

  71. Another hole in this movie: (and another SPOILER ALERT!!). The whole reason for having the Loopers was to hide murders and disposing of bodies. The Rainmaker gang had already killed Old Joe’s wife. They’re already in trouble. Why did they feel it was still necessary to send Old Joe back in time to close the loop? Why not just kill Old Joe too? And, if the Rainmaker was “All Powerful” and having a time machine was illegal, why would murdering somebody be that much of a problem?

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