An Analysis of Looper
In part 1 I talked about the logic problem of loopers having to kill their future selves. This time we’re going to look at the massive plot hole that derails the whole movie. Some of you know exactly what I’m talking about, but some may be asking “What plot hole? Looper was great”. It’s difficult to know where to start talking about this plot hole because it affects, and attempts to bring meaning to, so many aspects of the movie. So I’ll just come out and say it:
Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great concept. A bad guy tears up the future, so a good guy goes back to the past to kill the bad guy before he can become the bad guy. Embedded within is the excellent ethical dilemma of whether it’s right to punish or kill someone before they’ve done bad things, compounded by the fact that the bad guy is probably a child at that point. When you add that the good guys past self becomes attached to the future bad guy child, you’ve got a recipe for some great external conflict and internal conflict as both versions of the good guy fight each other. That sounds like the makings of an awesome movie right there.
The question could be asked at this point, if it even needs the addition of assassins doing hits on people sent back from the future. It’s almost seems as if Looper is two different movies that have been shoehorned together, and we haven’t even mentioned telekinesis yet. I’m reminded of Good Will Hunting where apparently Weinstein looked at an early draft and realised there were two different stories competing. His advice was to focus on one story or the other. Damon and Affleck did, and ended up with a great movie.
Although the Rainmaker elements of the story could work by themselves, remember the idea of a looper was the initial inspiration. I wonder if that idea could sustain a movie without the Rainmaker? We have a looper who fails to assassinate his future self. If we remove the Rainmaker as motivation, surely old Joe would still be pissed at the crime syndicate that sent him back, or maybe his misplaced anger is directed to the authorities that took down the crime syndicate. His wife being killed could even remain as fuel on the fire. Old Joe then has two objectives. To take down the crime syndicate before it exists, or whoever took them down, and to save his wife. Young Joe has to decide whether to help old Joe or help himself. Young Joe could be given some connection to either the syndicate or the wife to add conflict. There seems to be plenty of scope to create a dramatic and intriguing story out of that alone.
It could even be set up so that events that occur in the looper movie end up creating the Rainmaker. Sara could be a minor character in the looper movie, still a junkie partying with Joe and his friends, who gets killed. Without Sara’s influence Cid becomes the Rainmaker, creating havok in the future and ruining Joe’s life. Joe decides to come back (again), this time to find out who the Rainmaker is and stop him, either by killing him or preventing Sara’s death.
So these ideas could work for two separate movies, or a movie and a sequel. Surely there’s a way to include them in the same movie. How did it all go so wrong?