I finally saw Looper this weekend. It’s been a long hard road finding a screening that I could get to without causing undo stress to one of the other spheres of my life, but I did it by roping the old girlfriend into checking it out [For the record, the only movie I’ve brought her to that she didn’t at least appreciate was Brave, and that’s good evidence to why we get along].
Ah, time travel movies, aren’t you grand?
After seeing Looper, getting a good night’s rest, then having an entire Sunday mostly dedicated to laundry and watching rough cuts of TV shows you guys won’t see until mid-next year, I got to absorb as much content from the internet regarding Looper as possible.
Here are my incomplete thoughts about Looper that I’m rolling around in my head.
Some personal disclaimers:
SPOILERS START HERE.
WHAT DID WE SEE IN LOOPER?
We saw time close off a problematic loop caused by time travel.
Assuming Pop Culture time theory is correct, the timeline wants to correct itself. As an example, try Back To The Future rules: the process of the timeline correcting itself would be the fading of Marty and his siblings from the 1986 photograph. In “reality,” a shaky term when talking about time travel narratives, these things would instantly change…probably.
Let’s assume that you move from point A -> E in Timeline Prime. Someone travels back and starts cutting off your limbs at point A. Point E you starts losing limbs, but EVERYTHING else is changing simultaneously as well. Because of the complexity of every choice, you’re probably not going A-B-C-D-E anymore, but just because it’s A-X-C-D-E now doesn’t mean you’re not ending up at E one way or another.
In the case of Looper - Props to old Paul Dano for still being of interest to the future mob as a no-nose-quadriplegic 30 years from now. They still track him down and send his noseless body back to a Looper. Too bad there might not be any Loopers anymore, at least not in the way that we know them.
NO MORE LOOPERS? MAKE SOME SENSE, DA7E.
I will! Just stick with me. Here is my narrative of what was left unsaid in Looper, but my interpretation of what happened.
POINT 1: As revealed by the director, the time machines are set to a fixed amount of time: 30 years. Whomever the first time traveller was, the only way to undo his creation of the first paradox is to kill him before he goes back in time.
POINT 2: Kid Blue is the younger version of Jeff Daniels. I’m not sure Jeff Daniels knows this, but he must if memory works for him the way it does for Joe. The details of this theory can get problematic if you go much beyond this storyline: Jeff Daniels gets sent back in time to run the Loopers. He hires Loopers and stays in his underground bunker avoiding the world so as to not alter the future. At some point, probably when he met Kid Blue and realized he had failed at his zero-contact directive, he began hiring Gat Men to control the city. This altered the future. I think the Jeff Daniels we see on screen is a man driven crazy. He’s super obsessed with losing Loops because he can’t have future people running around, but he seemed completely fine with altering history so he controlled the city.
POINT 3: Jeff Daniels’ presence in the past, creation of the Gat Men and the consolidation of power in the past causes The Rainmaker to exist. If The Rainmaker is the “new boss” post-Daniels’ time jump to run the Loopers, plus Daniels’ lack of dialogue about his Rainmaker knowledge makes me think that he would be as surprised as anyone that all Loops were being closed. That would effectively put him out of business and strand him in the past. Maybe Daniels thinks he is the Rainmaker and gives a little more attention to forming Kid Blue?
POINT 4: By the time Old Joe kills Jeff Daniels, the Rainmaker has become the jaw-less version of Elder Cid because Young Joe is already at the Cane farm. That’s why this whole problem doesn’t go away when Young Joe kills Kid Blue, BUT when Young Joe kills Kid Blue, that makes the last Rainmaker-dependent thread Old Joe, which is why Young Joe’s self-sacrifice ultimately works.
POINT 5: Time travel still exists, but the soonest anyone can alter the timeline we’re left with is from 30 years in the future, effectively erasing Joe entirely.
POINT 6: What I’m suggesting is that time - wanting to be paradox free - accelerated the human evolution of TK to close the series of paradoxes time travel was causing. Like how every time mankind tries to assert itself on nature, nature finds an unexpected way of responding. Time closed it’s own loop. I know it’s weird, but if it works, it’s a magnificent tapestry of a film.
POINT 7: If the previous 6 points are correct, at the end of the movie, nothing that was true about the future at the beginning is at the end. Emily Blunt might not even remember Old Joe and Kid Blue never becomes Jeff Daniels, who never runs the Loopers. Either it all never happened or it just happened to some other set of characters (assuming no events here stop time travel from being created in the first place)
Here’s how this helps me:
1. Cid isn’t Joe. This bugged the crap out of me as soon as the movie ended, with fingers through the hair on behalf of Emily Blunt. BUT - I’m convinced that was actually our moment of melancholy that is to make us feel okay about what transpired. Joe was a damaged child who was given something to live for (twice) and the Cid is a damaged child everyone assumes cannot live. Just because they want to draw the parallell doesn’t mean these are the same people. It really works considering Emily Blunt’s character (and Piper Perabo to a lesser extent) is the only person left who knew Joe at all, and who knows what memories she’s left with. All we know is she has the chance to make make Cid good, which was a chance Joe was given.
2. The Rainmaker didn’t always exist, which explains why everyone is so non-plussed by TK. If Jeff Daniels was spending his time in an underground vault like Emily Blunt escapes Cid’s tantrums in a safe, well, my theory falls apart.
3. Neither Old Joe NOR New Joe had any idea about the real consequences of their actions, which is what the movie actually says with Old Joe’s insistence they not quibble over time-travel. That way the movie only has to work on it’s own logic, not necessarily on what the characters think will happen. Who knows what future(s) are prevented if Cid dies? In my reading, the Rainmaker still happens because the flow of time is always working to restore things to a balance. This movie isn’t about people stopping the Rainmaker, it’s about Time stopping paradoxes.
Anyway, I’ve had a lot of fun trying to trace this underlying narrative.
The only person who can tell me I’m wrong is Rian Johnson. Everyone else, though, can help me put this patchwork theory together.