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May 17, 2013 / neiltheseal85

Why Looper was a terrible film

When you really think about it, Looper was a terrible film that made absolutely no sense. It was a confusing story about time travel and telekinesis set in the future that is strangely reminiscent of the past.

I’m not the first person to write about the problems with Looper, the Internet is littered with articles outlining why the film is confusing or inconsistent. A few reviews even focused on the fact that, even with his terrible prosthetic face, Joseph Gordon-Levitt looks exactly nothing like a young Bruce Willis. Since these issues have already been covered, I will focus on an aspect in Looper that has been shockingly overlooked: the absolutely terrible ending.

An uncanny resemblance

An uncanny resemblance

The stupid ending

Now don’t get me wrong, I think Looper was an entertaining movie and if I travelled back in time I would tell the younger me to go and watch it – right after I begged him not to kill me, that is. The concept, the acting and even the design of the film were all excellent, but the ending was an absolute mess.

(Warning: spoilers)

At the end of the film a really confusing situation arises. The main character of the film Joe (played by the conveniently named Joseph Gordon-Levitt) kills himself which prevents the future him (Bruce Willis) from travelling back in time and killing Emily Blunt. Joe suddenly realises that if the young child sees his mother die, it will cause him to eventually become the ruthless crime boss “the Rainmaker” in the future, who is the reason that Bruce Willis was sent back in time to be killed in the first place. After some quiet reflection on this, Joe does the only logical thing and shoots himself in the chest.

Instructions not clear

Instructions not clear enough

Why did Joe sacrifice himself?

After establishing clearly to the audience that Joe isn’t the nicest person in the world, Looper tries to tell us that he has had some sudden epiphany at the end of the film, realising that his own suicide it the only possible option. This makes absolutely no sense because Joe is a man who kills people for a living. Literally he is paid to shoot people and not ask questions. He does this willingly and one can assume by the number of gold bars in his personal safe, that he has many, many people.

Joe is the kind of person likely has very little empathy for others, which is why his suicide is just plain stupid. I understand that the directors were trying to make Joe more likeable by showing us his redemption, but this behaviour is just out of character and isn’t even necessary in a movie. Scarface is a good example of a great and popular film with a completely unlikeable main character. This isn’t a new idea either, tragedies have had unlikable characters for thousands of years, Macbeth was a bit of a douche and Oedipus was a real motherfucker at times.

"It's true, he was"

“It’s true, he was”

Why didn’t he just shoot Old Joe (Buce willis)?

This final scene of young Joe’s ultimate sacrifice is a perfect example of why Looper is just silly. There were so many alternatives to suicide that would have made far more sense to the story. If killing Emily Blunt would accidentally start a long and confusing chain of events that would be bad for all involved, then why not just shoot Old Joe in the first place and stop it happening?

I’m sure there are plenty of people who would love to shoot Bruce Willis

I’m sure there are plenty of people who would love to shoot Bruce Willis

This would have fixed literally everything for Young Joe. The entire premise of Looper (except for some telekinesis and stuff) is that Young Joe accidentally let the older version of himself free. He spends a good part of the film chasing and trying to kill the old version of himself but for some reason he suddenly decides now isn’t a good time. This would have been the most logical solution to the film. As well as Bruce Willis inadvertently creating the Rainmaker, Joe’s gangster employers would probably stop trying to kill him for not “closing the loop” once he had killed the old version of himself. Two birds, one stone.

Why didn’t he just kill the kid?

If, after spending half of the film trying to kill the old version of himself, Young Joe had a sudden change of heart, there were still other avenues that he could have chosen short of suicide. One that comes to mind is killing the kid that will eventually become the “evil” Rainmaker who can explode people with his mind. Looper already established early on that Joe is a bit of an arsehole with no morals. He clearly has no problem killing people since he does it for a living. Also, the movie made it very clear that this kid was going to grow up and kill a lot of people in the future – Joe included – if he was left alive, so what possible reason could Joe have for letting this dangerous person live? Sure there was the implication that maybe this Rainmaker fellow wouldn’t become an über crime lord if only he didn’t have mummy issues, but this is still potentially the most dangerous person in the world, why would he take that risk, especially when his own life in the future is at stake?

It’s like that old “what would you do if you could go back in time and meet Hitler” scenario. When asked what they would do in this situation, most people would probably say “kill Hitler”. But no, not our friend Joe the amoral contract killer, if he was put in this situation, it seems he would just tell Hitler to “behave” and hope for the best.


Now play nice with the Goldsteins

Why didn’t he just shoot his own hand off

If for some reason, Young Joe decided that killing a young child or murdering Bruce Willis was just a step too far, then there is still another less severe alternative to suicide: he could have just shot off his own hand. Though this may seem illogical to normal people, in the Looper universe, Joe shooting off his hand would make perfect sense. The film showed us very clearly that what happens

in the past has a direct impact on the future (or present, it’s not really clear). When Joe’s fellow looper Seth lets the future version of himself escape, we are treated to a very gruesome scene where limbs and appendages magically disappear on Old Seth because, presumably because the Young Seth they is having them surgically removed. Yes this scene itself just raises further questions (like why would a paraplegic be driving a car) but we can accept this because, hey it’s a movie, don’t ask questions!

Hermes Conrad on "Looper"

Following Looper’s logic, if Young Joe just shot off his own hand then Old Joe’s had will magically disappear too, and the gun it was holding would fall to the ground or disappear. This is essentially what happened anyway: when Young Joe shot himself Bruce Willis magically disappeared (just like his hairline in real life). Sure maybe this one-armed Bruce Willis could shoot Emily Blunt with his left hand but this would at least give her some time to run away or something. Losing a hand might not be ideal but I’m sure it’s far better than suicide.

It worked for Enrest Hemminway

It worked for Enrest Hemminway

How can Young Joe be the narrator?

The last piece of utter stupidity in this otherwise great film is the narration by Young Joe. In a film full of nonsense about time travel and telekinetically exploding people, this voiceover seems to be the most stupid. Looper uses narration as a way of explaining the unexplainable but it reality it is just confusing and actually impossible.

Young Joe explains his rationale to us throughout the film and at the end he tells us that he “changed it”. This means that, by killing himself, he stopped the future from happening and preventing the kid from becoming the Rainmaker. This moment is clearly supposed to be dramatic, but actually it’s just stupid; how the hell could he be narrating the movie if he had just shot himself?

“So I pulled the trigger like this… and then I was like so dead”

“So I pulled the trigger like this… and then I was like so dead”




Leave a Comment
  1. Crista / Aug 25 2013 9:10 am

    If 30 year old Joe is confronted by 50 year old Joe and is affected by his presence in such a way that he kills himself to destroy his future self, how could 50 year old Joe exist if he technically died in his 30s? In other words, how can older Joe exist if younger Joe killed himself at a younger age, which would prevent the older Joe from existing after the suicide? There would be no Joe to come back and create the rainmaker.

    • dasdasdasd / Nov 15 2013 4:37 pm

      spout out the obvious

    • deathbyskullf*** / Jun 26 2014 5:02 am

      That is a commonality in virtually all time travel films. Typically its represented by the idealogy of parallel universes. Such as Back to the Future. Back to the Future follows one timelines version of Marty throughout, but as the film unfolds, many paradoxes come to pass… things that should render “our hero” either obsolete or completely altered. It is covered by Doc Brown when they end up in a warped reality of 1985 where Biff is essentially “King”(so to speak) of Hill Valley that they created said alternate reality… even illustrated on a wipe board. There are virtually no time travel films that you wouldnt be able to play the same card on. Terminator 1 and 2 are huge films, that though great(two of my favorite sci fi films actually) technically is one big paradox. There should be no John Connor to send Kyle Reese back into the past to father him if he never existed in the first place. And the only reason why skynet is built is based on the tech acquired by the remains of the Terminator found in Cyberdyne. So how does Skynet or the Terminators exist in the first place. Then, once theyve destroyed all the data and the hardware to which skynet would be based on, that should render all of the future null and void… a vicious circle of paradoxes going on there… Im going to disregard that Skynet suddenly became software via the third film. How about in the Star Trek reboot. With old Spock existing in the films, as soon as Vulcan is destroyed (aside from any other major time altering situations) Old Spock should be completely altered if not completely erased. If the crew hadnt been taking his remains to Vulcan in the third film, they wouldve likely been caught in the wake of the probe in 4… effectively stopping their ability to stop said probe and likely ending all terrestrial life without being able go back in time to get Humpback Whales lol So clearly the new Star Trek is implying alternate timelines and not completely erasing timelines. That being said, one could pick and pick at almost any sci fi movie… especially ones that involve time travel. Im certain one could retort my musings and attempt to begin a debate. But why cant we take the films as what they are… entertainment. I realize we want logic to be maintained when dealing with sci fi… thats a difficult task when breaking string theory is involved. So like a loose thread on a sweater… just observe it…. DONT PULL ON IT… or just cut it out altogether. One should not be surprised to find inconsitencies in time travel films. Either be prepared to find an inconsistency and accept it… or save yourself the trouble and dont bother with it… I give credit to the creative minds involved for the cleverness they do pull off and their ability to make sense of most of it… arent you all so clever to try to poke holes in a fictitious premise that by rationale is doomed to have holes by definition alone. Kudos

      • T800 / Dec 15 2014 11:39 am

        The difference between Looper and all those other films is that they parcel out the time travel in little bites so you can overlook the inconsistencies and enjoy the movie. Loop shoves its time travel nonsense into your face almost the whole time so you have no chance to ignore it. It’s like the difference between a dog turd on the sidewalk that you can step over (all other movies) and a great big ditch filled with crap (Looper).
        It piles on the turd the way Christopher Nolan piles on foreshadowing: by the truckload.

  2. fishtits / Nov 26 2016 12:18 pm

    i found the movie very easy to follow idk why eveyone keeps saying it was confusing. 3 time periods future present and past. 30 joe lives in present 60 joe lives in future and they take ppl back to the past (where the majority of the movie is held in) to kill and dispose of ppl. how hard is that? lol they showed 30 joes progression from stone cold killer to empathetic slowly thru the movie from the guilt of giving his friend up for silver, to reminiscing about his mother with the stripper, to empathising with the child because his mother had abandoned him when he was young as well. Also, they made it VERY clear that the execution style shotgun was STRICTLY a point blank weapon not meant for range shooting ppl. therefore he couldnt kill 60 year old joe before 60 joe killed the mother because he was out of range. If you want to make a point that holds against the movie then he should have shot his own leg off possibly killing him but definitely crippling him giving the kid and mom enough time to get away. i think ppl should watch a movie a few times before writing reviews on them especially if you have a hard time paying attention to blatantly obvious details.

  3. Marielle Jenna / Dec 15 2016 8:44 am

    “Why didn’t he just shoot Old Joe (Buce willis)?”

    The movie makes a point of explaining that you can’t hit a target more than 15 ft away with a blunderbuss… Old Joe is out of range and is about to kill Blunt’s char while Young Joe only has his blunderbuss in hand and has to do something asap to stop his counterpart from killing her.

  4. Sillien / Feb 14 2017 8:40 am

    you cant defend this movie , just explain this : if in the first loop present joe shot future joe thus not meetin the kid and his mother even remotely and getting ol screwing in china , how the fuck did the kid turn into rainmaker still? the movie is sh*t and surely doesnt deserve that imdb record.people love stupid sh*t that they think understand

    • poizehn / Mar 5 2017 3:15 am

      there’s a perfectly simple explanation. In that version of the loops, when one of the first people’s loops got closed, someone tells present Joe that the rainmaker is closing all the loops, and that apparently someone shot his mother. See, it’s very simple. If Joe DID kill his future self, then the rainmaker’s mother (Emily Blunt’s character) would still have wound up dead somehow, from a gunshot wound. With no mother, the kid becomes the rainmaker. WITH the mother, the kid doesn’t become the rainmaker, as she can raise him properly. People love to hate sh*t that they’re too dense to understand.

  5. Andrew / Jan 1 2018 3:29 pm

    Yeah… God forbid that a character has an arc to him in which he can change… That shit never ever ever happens….

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