Looper (on how time travel will scramble your brain)

First, I’ve decided my husband needs a new name on the blog other than “the hubs,” so he’ll heretofore be known as Snoop Robby Rob. Ok, with that important piece of business out of the way, Snoop Robby Rob and I watched Looper this weekend. Have you seen Looper? Do you like Looper? It’s that movie where Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s face is kind of messed up looking but you realize it’s because he’s supposed to look like a young Bruce Willis who is, incidentally, very old looking.


Right. Here’s the thrust of it:

In Looper, time travel is invented 30 years in the future and, though immediately outlawed, is used by criminal organizations to send those they want killed into the past where they are killed by “loopers”, assassins paid with silver bars strapped to their targets. Joe, a looper, encounters himself when his older self is sent back in time to be killed.

Fair warning: mild spoiler alerts ahead where I rant about a movie that I actually do kind of like:

So, as mentioned, Looper is a time travel movie set in a dystopian Kansas City. As a writer, I sympathize with what a royal pain in the ass it is to come up with consistent rules and then continue to play by those rules for an entire novel, film, short story, whatever. In other words, world-building is freaking hard. I get it.

But what you don’t do is have a character in the story give voice to the fact that you, as the writer, don’t have it all figured out just yet…(best if read in the tune of Alanis Morrissette song).  But that’s the route the writers of Looper decided was the best way to go. Let’s just brush over those pesky possible little inconsistencies in the fabric of the time travel world and no one will notice!! The plan is perfect!

But oh wait–what if the audience does notice? That could be a real problem… Not to worry. We’ll have a character to throw them off the hunt. Enter “Old Joe” (Bruce Willis) who decides to set everyone straight with the following quote:

I don’t want to talk about time travel because if we start talking about it then
we’re going to be here all day talking about it, making diagrams with straws.

Okay, I get it. The rules are so complex, I, a measly member of the peon audience, couldn’t possibly understand. But just in case I was thinking about getting uppity, the characters go on to tell me that if I think about this “time travel crap” too hard it will scramble my brain like an egg! Oh my!

Well…I certainly don’t want that, but…

I can’t help but notice that the beginning of the movie where Young Joe’s best friend, Seth, fails to close his loop by killing his older self has a few problems. Young Seth is brutally tortured and all four of his limbs are amputated in order to get Old Seth to turn himself in and be killed. The idea floated is that to kill Young Seth would change history too much because there would be no Old Seth running around in the future for the mafia to send back to be killed. So, are you telling me that to amputate all four of someone’s limbs along with most of their face isn’t going to substantially change their role in history? I mean, where could Old Seth even go without any arms or legs or face?? What would he do? Why would it be so important to keep Young Seth alive like that? I’m pretty sure history is already altered if we’re staking our current claim to history around Young Seth’s survival for the next thirty years.

Bruce Willis, please, I need you to come draw me some diagrams with your straws!!!

Okay, fine, Looper writers are right…I can’t understand. Anyone whose brain is not scrambled into an egg, please feel free to fill me in.

Other cool theories I’ve heard that aren’t mine:

-The little boy Rainmaker is Joe. If you’ll remember Joe can’t remember his mother’s face or where he came from. This one I don’t buy since supposedly once a decision is made the older self can remember it, so at the very least Old Joe would have had some recollection of being the Rainmaker and also he’s clearly not the Rainmaker in the original version of Joe’s life since it’s the Rainmaker that sends him back to be killed.

-Kid Blue is a younger version of the boss of the Loopers, Abe. This one’s more interesting to me and I think could be true.

2 thoughts on “Looper (on how time travel will scramble your brain)

  1. Creative A says:

    Oh goodness! Why do they keep making less-than-stellar time travel movies? It’s like burning a pan of brownies. Repeatedly.

    I haven’t watched Looper yet, and I was going to because, seriously, Joshua Gordon Levitt. But now…le sigh. I think I might still watch it (BECAUSE JOSHUA GORDON LEVITT) but I think with a lot less enthusiasm.

    Thanks for the honest review/warning, though.


  2. Anna says:

    I had no idea it was set in KC! Now I’m torn… I don’t want to see gorgeous JGL with a messed up face, but I doooo love seeing good ol’ Kansas City

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