A lot has probably been written about, Looper, Director Rian Johnson’s sci-fi action film. If you’ve seen even a single trailer you know what to expect, right? Future mob hits are sent to the past to be disposed of by men called Loopers. Everything’s hunky dory, and especially hunky with manic pixie dreamboat Joseph Gordon Levitt as the lead, until the man the mob sends from the future to be the target is JGL from the future… who is Bruce Willis? You got all that right? It’s not that hard.
So you’re expecting maybe we get Bruce Willis escaping his execution, causing a ruckus, a standoff between past and present, some kind of team up… and that happens to a degree. But then there’s a massive bait and switch.
Like you’re college roommate who smoked too much hashish, Looper starts pontificatering. Deep thoughts, man.
Like, “What if you had a chance to go back in time and kill Hitler when he was a boy?” Wait… what?
Spoilers after the break
So it’s not literally Hitler. It’s more like a young Kaneda from Akira, all TK mindsplosions and what not. But still, what the hell? Of all the directions the story could go in, some conventional others not, why this one? The threat presented by “The Rainmaker” doesn’t seem to be a threat to all mankind but specifically to the Loopers and their kind within the mob. So altruism is out the window. Bruce Willis’ Joe just wants his slain woman back and he’s motivated by entirely selfish reasons.
The bigger questions of “whether the future is written in stone” or “whether outside influences could flop our positions on the good/evil spectrum” is used in the film to build upon a greater character dilemma: Is the Joe played by JGL and the one played by Bruce Willis even the same character? They exist at odds with each other. They want different things. So if they aren’t the same character, then neither are any of us the same person we were ten, twenty years ago. That means the past is another life. The good, the bad and the guilt of that life belongs to another. This explains how people can be so ridiculously short sighted. Shit happens… to other people. Even if they are you, eventually or previously.
Looper is about realizing that what I just wrote is kind of bullshit. Surprise twist! We are who we make ourselves to be through our choices. And we reap what we sow. No one escapes that because the future is built in the present. As it was and ever will be. Joe was a boy who got a raw deal and then thought he was fortunate when someone put a gun in his hand. At the end of the movie he learns that his choices make him responsible for the future and it must cross his mind that he probably wasn’t all that fortunate to have a gun in his hand at that particular and final moment.