Well, it’s been out for at least 2 or 3 weeks, so I think its appropriate to talk about the film Looper in full spoilerage mode! What a great film. I went and saw it again over the weekend, and its even more interesting to watch once you know where the story is going. There were a couple of funny moments I didn’t catch on to the first time around (The girl Sara, who is TK tells a story about a guy who was TK trying to impress her with a floating quarter, only she used her ability to keep it down and the guy nearly burst a blood vessel trying to float it). It’s such an intricate, fully developed world that Rian Johnson as created. Even though Joe’s story is basically over, I would love to see a story about Cid now…possibly see what happens in the future when he’s older and time travel has been invented. It will inevitably still be invented, so if its not used by criminal syndicates, then who? Will it end up in the hands of a higher power? What’s going to happen now that the time line has changed? There is potential there for another story which could be very interesting.
But what we get the Looper film we have is just amazing. The story is so tight and woven so well together. It’s an intense thriller. There’s also a saddness that hangs over the film. Older Joe’s inability to let go of his wife leads to a horrific dark side as he kills off children, hoping to eventually kill The Rainmaker as a child in hopes that he will get his life back. What’s most interesting viewing the film a second time is that the scene between Old Joe and Young Joe at the Diner plays completely different. The first time you watch it, you think of Old Joe being the wiser, especially when he warns his younger self about how screwed up he’s going to become on drugs, and his speech about how his wife will become his salvation, clean him up and allow him to start a new life. But when you watch it the second time, you realize its really Young Joe who is the smarter of the two, who tells his old self to get over wife and move on (“Just show me the picture of her, and when I see her I’ll walk away”). As the timeline changes, Old Joe becomes more desperate as he starts to loose his memory of his wife, as the younger Joe starts heading off on a new path, driving him to change his destiny. Old Joe has become corrupted by his memory, and it really shows the danger of what happens when we can’t let go. This is especially noticable in the scene where Old Joe looses it and kills just about everyone in the Looper home office, severely altering the future in the process. While this is a great scene, its probably the one hole in the entire plot, as Abe warns earlier about not killing Seth because it would alter the timeline, if Old Joe kills everyone in the Looper office, wouldn’t his destiny be changed? The mafia in the future would obviously know what he will do in the past and put a stop to him somehow. It’s a bit of a paradox, but then again what time travel film doesn’t have them? The essence of the story remains true, and for the most part this scene was an after thought because I was so caught up in the story. Young Joe’s sacrifice at the end, when he finally sees the “time loop” that will create so much destruction and death, is powerful and moving. Where as Old Joe winds up on a path of murdering a child (a symbolic gesture of destroying his own inner child), Young Joe heroically sacrifices himself to save the life and the destiny of a child from becoming corrupted. Which is absolutely fitting. The storytelling in this film is above and beyond brilliant.
There is a lot to admire in this film about the world that was created within this film. There has been a lot of admiration for the actor Noah Segan who plays Kid Blue in the film. He’s a terrific villain, which is an irony in mentioning because he’s also the ultimate screw up who can’t seem to please his boss or do anything right. He is funny as much as he can be a dangerous threat, and we sympathize with him as a guy who is trying hard (maybe too hard) to prove himself to Abe (Jeff Daniels), who is a kind of father figure/overseer of the Loopers. Kid is kind of the bastard son, screaming for attention from dad, while Young Joe next to him gets all the praise and the attention. Our sympathy for him leads to a great showdown at the end, especially when Kid sees Abe dead and goes out for blood…we can see Kid’s relationship with Abe as the one father figure in his life he worked so hard to please.
I also want to talk about the young actor Pierce Gagnon who plays Cid. It is an incredible performance from a child actor, as this kid who looks like he’s six or seven (he’s probably older in real life) shows incredible intellegence. I have to laugh when I hear this six year old kid saying, “hand me that Phillips”, while he uses his intelligence with machines to create a communicator device for Joe from a frog toy. While we know Cid possesses incredible TK powers, he must also have some psychic intuition as he see’s Young Joe will be able to protect him and his mother. There is a lot of mystery to who Cid is and why his powers are so far beyond others (especially his powerful dark side when he’s able to makes Jesse’s heart explode.) We see The Rainmaker being born, and Sara’s struggle (his foster mother) to help him contain his rage and raise him to be a good person. Some things I didn’t understand the first time, but got the second was when Cid gets angry early on (before we know the extent of his powers), she walks away and climbs into a large safe to protect herself. It’s a subtle hint, but it makes sense the second time around. Their relationship is a painful one, as Cid refuses to accept Sara as his mother, until the final painful end after Joes self sacrifice that he is able to accept her.
Emily Blunt is terrific as Sara, hardened from a struggling life in the future, the farm is her one sanctuary from the violence of the outside world, and she means to keep it that way. Young Joe underestimates her at first, believing she won’t shoot him and that she’s not a killer, but once she realizes Joe may be a threat to her son, her mother instinct kicks in, and she shoots Joe in the arm when he tries to move towards her. It’s a terrific scene.
That’s the great thing about this film. It’s just a masterpiece of character and relationships. Almost everyone in the film has an arc. No character is arbitrarily used and forgot, everyone has a purpose and everyone has their moment. Supporting characters such as Seth (Paul Dano), while he’s a victim set up to show the consequences of being a Looper and what happens when you let your older self get away, he still stands out, and briefly we understand his relationship and his friendship with Young Joe before everything turns to shit. It’s very quick that this relationship, but writer Rian allows us to invest in these brief relationships. Even Old Joe’s wife, who never speaks, we believe how much he loves her without a single word having to be uttered. It’s great storytelling.
So if you’ve seen Looper already, I hope this review encourages you to check it out again. It is a masterful, well crafted film, and it may be my favorite movie to come out this year. This is how it’s done. This is truly great storytelling.