Got a Problem with 'Looper's Time Traveling Plot Holes? Let's Talk about That...

Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis in Looper
Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis in Looper
Photo: TriStar Pictures
NOTE: Yes, there will be spoilers for Looper in this article.

Going onto the IMDb message boards to read the discussions regarding Looper is mind numbing. People begin explaining reasons why this happens, why that happens, why this person can't do that and why this person can't do this. Why didn't young Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) shoot off his hand so old Joe (Bruce Willis) couldn't hold the gun to shoot Cid? Why keep young Seth (Paul Dano) alive?

Then I read theories on alternate timelines, a theory that easily explains Source Code, but I don't think adequately explains Looper's holes. Either that, or I don't want to believe the same theory works for this film as well.

Most of the discussion seems to begin with a question and end with a rather dissatisfying solution. Take, for example, a question asking, "Why does the mob send targets back in time alive? Why not kill them in the future and send them back to the past to be disposed of?"

To begin this explanation you can look at a response Looper writer/director Rian Johnson gave SlashFilm saying, "Everybody in the movie has this nano technology tracking in their body and whenever there's a death, a location tag is sent to the authorities from this tracking material." So, using that explanation, you wouldn't want to kill someone in the future and then send them back in time because it would lead the authorities to your time machine.

A response to this would be to ask, "Well why not at least maim them, chop off their legs, etc. That way when they get to the past there is no chance of them running?"

The only answer I can come up with for this is to say, "Because that would be too messy and you'd have to clean the time machine each time."

"But you could just break their legs and arms and --"

"We said no!"

Bruce Willis in LooperNow consider a question SlashFilm's Germain Lussier asked Johnson...

The film surmises Old Joe killing Sarah eventually made Cid become the Rainmaker. But Old Joe can't become Old Joe without first being killed and letting Young Joe grow up to meet his wife. In that timeline though, Cid would grow up normal because Sarah wasn't killed by Joe. How does that all work? How does the Rainmaker exist in a timeline where Old Joe didn't kill his mom?

So there's the crux of the story, how could the events of the film happen if old Joe hasn't already come back and killed Sara (Emily Blunt)?

Johnson replied to this saying, "That's the Terminator question. If it's important to you to really justify that beyond 'It makes sense in a story type way,' you'll have to get into multiple time lines existing in neverending loops of logic. You can shoehorn it into making sense."

I'm not even sure multiple timelines help it make sense, but as far as I'm concerned it doesn't really matter...

Any movie involving time travel is going to have problems, without fail. That is, unless you give the audience so little they're left scratching their heads for years and years such as all the people still wondering what the hell happened in Primer.

Why is this? Because, shocker, time travel doesn't exist. Therefore to make it a reality in a feature film is an impossibility without problem spots. Looper is no exception, and while I mentioned some problems with the plot in my review, the time travel plot holes were hardly a concern.

Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon-Levitt in Looper
Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon-Levitt in Looper
Photo: TriStar Pictures

For me, Johnson made the film about something larger than time travel. In fact, in my review I commended it for going beyond its time travel plot and being about something more.

The notion of a character meeting his future self has been explored in films before, but instead of focusing on potential breaks in the space-time continuum, Johnson allows the audience to comprehend the idea of what it would actually be like to sit across from yourself over steak and eggs. While the plot may not entirely hold up, it's moments like this that add more than enough depth to the story to help you overlook any space-time concerns.

Yes, Looper has plot holes and questions of "Why this?" and "Why that?" and it's whether or not you can accept these holes. Can you?

What plot holes bothered you most? Were you able to overlook them and enjoy the film despite those holes?

Jeff Daniels and Noah Segan in Looper
Jeff Daniels and Noah Segan in Looper
Photo: TriStar Pictures

SIDE NOTE: The biggest question I have about Looper has to do with Noah Segan's character, Kid Blue. Is he in any way related to Jeff Daniels' character? At first I thought he might be Jeff Daniels' son, based on the way he was always trying to please him, the way Daniels coddled him and looked at him when he saw him "dead" near the end. Then someone else posed the theory to me that he thought was Jeff Daniels. Do you have any theories?

The way those two characters interacted with one another just left me questioning what exactly was going on between them. I got the impression Kid Blue was something more than just another Gat Man.

  • Aleonardis

    Somebody on the boards ironically made a straw diagram...

    • Terdterdson

      The only way the plot works is if it is the first time Old Joe comes back... because anytime time line other than that, Young Joe would know that killing Cid's mom was what cause Cid to become evil.

    • Alex C

      I didn't have a problem with the whole Rainmaker being created thing because the way I saw it, he could be created in all timelines.

      1) Old Joe never interferes. He still 'saw his mom die' and could have gotten some kind of replacement jaw, and getting drunk on power, become the rainmaker.
      2) Old Joe does interfere and kills his real mom. Again, he saw his mom die and now has a better reason to get a fake jaw.
      3) The way the movie DID end, I'd like to imagine the cycle was broken because the mother and Cid, now inspired by Young Joe's sacrifice, take his powers much more seriously and he is raised to be good.

      That being said, I think an argument could be made that he was simply destined to become the Rainmaker NO MATTER WHAT.

      • moosie7

        The mother and Cid could not be inspired by young Joe's sacrifice, because Joe died young and there was no threat to them in old Joe being there. The movie shows Sarah and Cid finding the silver in the overturned van that young Joe drove up in, but that event would not have happened in the new time line after young Joe sacrificed himself. Old Joe would not be there to threaten them. No matter how you look at it, it bends your mind.

      • Dave Simmonds

        There is a major problem here....Cid saw his mum getting killed because the older joe came back and killed her, essentially turning Cid into some derranged power mad rainmaker who was terminating all the loopers...... The older Joe,not liking the rainmaker, decided to go back and kill him but got the mum instead.
        The kid. on seeing this, became a derranged power mad rainmaker who was terminating all the loopers......and so it goes on.
        A causes B causes A
        Cid would never have turned into a derranged rainmaker had he not seen the older Joe kill his mum.....Joe would not have gone back and accidently killed Cid's mum if Cid had not turned out to be the rainmaker.
        The film doesnt work.......or does it????
        The only way this film can work in any way is if, after Joe had killed himself, Cid's mum was brutally murdered in front of him at a different time thus still leaving Cid to grow up into a derranged powermad rainmaker.
        Meaning that Joe killed himself for no good reason.....

    • husainity

      All are making valid points about the rainmaker timeline. And at the end of the day (like most sci-fi movies) you have to take a leap of faith. What bothered me about the ending had more to do with young Joe killing himself being the solution to stop Old Joe. Didn't the movie spend a great deal of time telling us that their were consequences if the young version is killed when the old version is still roaming around in the same time period? Why go through all the trouble of maming but still keeping alive Joe's looper friend in order to draw the Old version to the warehouse in order to kill him. Why not just kill the young version of Joe's looper friend and be done with it. Likewise, if killing young Joe would have simply elimated Old Joe (in essence terminating both versions), the mafia had multiple opportunities to kill young joe. Again, why go through all the trouble of tracking down Old Joe when Young Joe was well in their reach (even working together) during several instances.

      I have no problems with leaps of faith (i.e. the rainmaker question or "we can't kill in the future because of tracking technology"). What I have problem with is a violating a premise that the movie itself spends a great deal of time setting up and requiring us to believe. To resolve the plot, it breaks its own rule.

      That being said, I was so engrossed with the movie, I didn't even consider this fact until halfway into the car ride home. In addition, I was talking about the movie to several people the next day; something I haven't done in a long while in regards to a movie. This issue, however, brought my over all score of the move down a few points from great/classic to good/orginal.

    • Kcookies

      Biggest question of it all.. So Young Joe has sex with his mother (that alone needed to be commented on)... And young Joe is somehow the rainmaker who has not realized his TK powers, however he describes being on the train alone so in essence he should already know that when he gets angry he can destroy things.

      Secondly when did young joe travel back in time to meet toddler joe? How did he go to a farm in his time period and somehow cross over into toddler joes timeline.

      thirdly why the hell is toddler joe so smart and powerful and young joe and old joe so average?

      • Kcookies


      • Cat

        Cid and Joe are not the same person and therefore Sara is not Joe's mother.
        There is no toddler Joe, just Cid who is a different person entirely.

        Cid is a young child who has incredibly strong TK powers (and who in certain time lines goes on to be the rainmaker).
        Young Joe is perhaps in his mid to late 20s and living at the same time as Cid (young Joe is living in his correct timeline and hasn't time travelled) and has no TK powers.

        Just because they both had messed up childhoods doesn't make them the same person.

        Joe's mum basically sold him for money when he was very young so she could buy drugs (I think in the film he says he was sold when he was even younger than Cid is).
        Joe ran away from the people who bought him (with no injury to his jaw and no witnessing his mum's death) and turned to a life of crime until he was found by Abe.

        Cid was brought up by his Aunt (who he thought was his mum) on the ranch and had a fairly OK childhood until he accidentally killed her when there was an accident and he got scared.
        Then Sara (his real mum) came to look after him and he had a tough time coping.

        If someone (be it Old Joe, or another unknown person in an alternate time line) had killed Sara, Cid would have been orphaned, run away on the train with the jaw wound, eventually had a prosthetic jaw implant and then decided to take control of the future city so he could kill all Loopers (or rather have them kill themselves through time travel hit jobs) as revenge for Sara's death.

        If they were all the same person then young Joe would know who his mum was and wouldn't have sex with her (unless this was a very different type of story!) and old Joe would know exactly where to find (and kill) his younger young self.
        Both Joes would also have very strong TK powers and wouldn't need to worry about anything as they could just explode anyone who threatened them. (In fact if they were the same person this would mean that older Joe was the rainmaker which makes no sense)

        And there would be the whole confusing question about how old Joe thinks killing himself as a child will help him stay happily married to his wife in the future (you remember he didn't want to just choose a different path so she could live - he wanted to live with her)??!?

  • Ian

    I was really hoping Looper would get some type of an analysis piece. And I think you've hit most of the main points Brad...people forget that science-fiction is, fundamentally, fantasy. And whether or not you can accept this fantastic world or not will determine whether you can accept the film overall. Time travel films face a particular struggle in this regard, because there are so many different interpretations of how time travel *would* work. As far as I'm concerned, as long as the rules set up by the filmmaker make sense, and the story plays out in the context of those rules, then I'm fine with it. And I think that absolutely is the case with Looper. Perhaps there are some minor inconsistencies, but nothing major.

    The one *potential* major issue is, of course, the idea of how Cid became the Rainmaker. I took Joe's final narration as meaning that, from this point forward, Cid will always become the Rainmaker, unless he "breaks the loop," as it were. Now that Joe has met Cid and Sara, that is how the future will play out every time, unless he removes himself from the equation and Sara is allowed to survive. Of course this doesn't answer the question of how Cid became the Rainmaker in the "original" loop / timeline. My interpretation is that it doesn't matter, since we never see how that storyline played out in the "original" timeline (meaning the timeline when Young Joe killed Old Joe). There are any number of things from Cid's already damaged childhood which, coupled with his telekinesis, could lead to him becoming the Rainmaker. The fundamental difference in what I'll call the "main loop / timeline" (the one in which the central story takes place), is that Joe and Sara meet. That meeting is a crucial point for all three characters that will always result in Cid becoming the Rainmaker, unless Joe removes himself from the equation. Sure he could have shot off his hand, but to complain about that is to miss the larger theme in Joe's character arc of noble redemption, and to die with honor. I just think it's a better story choice, and one that ultimately satisfies the character better, that Joe would be willing to die to save Sara's life, offer a better future for Cid (because of the wealth Sara comes into), and save the future from tyranny. That's my interpretation. Apologies if anyone else has already posted this interpretation; it's taken me a while to put together.

    As far as Kid Blue, I interpreted him as being Abe's son, I never really considered that he could be Young Abe. But unless Old Abe lame due to "shooting his foot off," that interpretation would be eliminated.

    As far as the film itself, I was absolutely blown away in a way I haven't been since Inception. It just completely, totally, pulled me into this world and Johnson continued to surprise me with the twists and turns in the story, and how he tied all the narrative threads together, even a seemingly throwaway line about how the blunderbusses aren't good for hitting anything more than fifteen feet away (hence why Young Joe can't just kill Old Joe with the blunderbuss at the end). I thought it was an brilliantly styled sci-fi noir, and absolute master class in cinematic storytelling; I also thought Gordon-Levitt and Blunt gave Oscar-worthy performances. It's absolutely the best film of the year in my opinion (including The Master, which I would place a close second) and it's a film I can't wait to see again.

    • Ian

      And in case it wasn't obvious, I would grade the film an A+, or 4 stars out of 4.

    • Brad Brevet

      It was tough, I wasn't sure I was going to do anything because I don't think there is much to necessary analyze. I actually thought the facts in Source Code worked whereas here I felt they crumbled on top of themselves so it just would have been a big article poking holes in the film, which I really wasn't all that interested in doing.

      • Ian

        Well for me, I didn't see the logic crumbling. Granted the second time around I'll be able to pay much more attention to the logic, and that will help determine how well the film stands up for me, but at a glance I don't see any gaping issues.

        And while the rules worked in Source Code, I still have a bit of an issue with the whole Gyllenhaal's consciousness / soul inhabiting the other guy's body. Just felt like more of a stretch to me, and I still feel like the happy ending was a bit too forced there. In fact, the more I think about it, the more I like the ending of Looper, especially in the context of other recent cop-out happy endings (The Dark Knight Rises most notably). I think it was the perfect ending for that character.

        • moosie7

          It may not be a gaping issue, but I can't understand why young Joe was shown killing the Old Joe in a "second scene" after the first botched attempt. I can't seem to tie it into anything else that was revealed in the plot.

          • Hello!

            The "first botched attempt" was Joseph G-L letting Bruce Willis escape.
            They then rewinded to show Bruce Willis's timeline 30 years back, where he initially succeeded in killing his future self, eventually leading to deep dissatisfaction, Chinese wife, etc.

            A perhaps more easily visualized format, in chronological order:

            Joe kills his future self. He lives his life, transforms into Bruce Willis, gets sent back. (You see this scene SECOND)
            Bruce Willis is sent back and Young Joe lets him escape. (You see this scene FIRST)

    • Patrick

      "...and save the future from tyranny."

      You can't assume this. Because this is where it matters how Cid became the Rainmaker in the "original" timeline.

      Let's say that event A causes Cid to become the Rainmaker in the "original" timeline. Now in the "main" timeline, event B would be Old Joe killing Cid's mom. Both A and B result in Cid becoming the Rainmaker. If Young Joe kills himself, he is only getting rid of B. But A can still happen! So Joe's sacrifice is ultimately useless. You can't say that "Joe saving Sara", or "Cid learning to love his mom", or "Sara becoming wealthy" all of a sudden fixes Cid, because you've chosen to ignore event A.

      So your options are either: 1) you ignore this "major potential issue" and accept the fact that Young Joe's self-sacrifice is ultimately meaningless, or 2) you argue that Young Joe's self-sacrifice is not meaningless and accept the fact that there is a "major issue" with how Cid became the Rainmaker in the first place.
      Neither option would lead to an A+, IMO.

      • Ian

        Well I agree that Cid still *could* become the Rainmaker, but that's not given to the audience to know. It's certainly an open ending from that perspective (the final shot focusing on Cid bears this out), but much like the ending of Inception, I don't think there's a right or wrong interpretation of that particular issue. My interpretation is that the presence of Joe in this particular loop / timeline made the difference, and ultimately led to a positive outcome for Cid, but as I said, I don't think there's a right or wrong interpretation.

        • Patrick

          No no, the fact that Cid eventually became the Rainmaker in the "original" timeline says that even after Young Joe's self-sacrifice, Cid still WILL become the Rainmaker (not still COULD). There is no indication that Joe stopped whatever caused Cid to become the Rainmaker in the "original" timeline, so you cannot assume it. It's not that this is open to interpretation; it's that something ends up missing regardless of your interpretation.

          • Ian

            Well there's no indication he didn't stop it either. In fact, I do think there's an indication that he (possibly) did. I'm borrowing from Hamza Zain below (since this is something I hadn't thought about until reading what he / she posted):

            Assume that Cid's resentment of Sara because he never believed she was his real mother contributed to him becoming the Rainmaker. Because Joe's presence in this loop / timeline, there appears to be a reconciliation between Cid and Sara. I honestly don't remember if he accepts that she is his mother or not, but that's something I'll definitely be watching for when I see the film again. But whether he does or doesn't, this reconciliation between them could lead to him having a less resentful mindset growing up, and therefore he doesn't become the Rainmaker.

            • Hey

              I agree that it is supposed to at least be ambiguous whether or not Cid will still become the Rainmaker mostly because of Young Joe's narration but it's worth pointing out that the fact that there are gold bars left for Sara to find, which is either a plot hole or an indication that Cid still became the rainmaker.

              If Young Joe DID stop Cid becoming the rainmaker, surely this gold would disappear as anything connected with the rainmaker would no longer have ever existed.

              On the other hand, it could just be a plot hole over-looked by the filmmakers.

              Personally, I prefer the latter option as it doesn't feel like the ending is supposed to be as open ended as, say, inception.

          • markymark

            He accepts Sara as his mother at the end due to Young/Old Joe's intervention in there they have a ton of silver/gold bars at the end. Material wealth in an impoverished world is always helpful.

          • Jeff

            No, it IS open ended whether Cid becomes the rainmaker in the timeline of the movie. Because the timeline in which event A happened occurred while old Joe was alive - which can't possibly be the same timeline as the one in the movie since Joe kills himself. Event A could still occur of course, but it may not, and event B changes things as young Joe helps the mother-son relationship and leaves them with a boat load of money.

        • Gee

          Cid does accept Sarah as his mother, at the end after Joe saves her Cid calls her "mom" something he hasn't done up until that point.

      • GregDinskisk

        I had thought Cid became the Rainmaker in Event A because he thought Sara wasn't actually his mother, and he wanted to stop 'bad people' like her via TK. But, Joe came along, and helped convince him that Sara was his mother, and that he loved her.
        Event B was bypassed by Young Joe killing himself, and, as I stated above, Event A was bypassed because Cid loved his mother, and didn't despise her for being a 'liar,' because he then realized she wasn't.

        Thus, Event C, where it is possible for him to use his powers for good.

        I reread this, so I'm pretty sure it all makes sense. If anything doesn't, let me know, and I'll try to fix what I meant.

        • DavidG

          That was my thinking as well.

    • Ashenspry

      I loved the movie, but the premise that they couldn't kill people in the future kinda went out the window when they shot the Chinese wife. Doh!

    • Valdras

      How the original rain maker happened. The future joe saw was an alternative rainmaker, as the original timeline wouldn't of had either joe in it, and simply one of the kids tantrums ended up killing the mum. Simple as that. If anything the rainmaker old joe would of created may of been less evil. In my humble opinion of course

    • richardblade

      "That meeting is a crucial point for all three characters that will always result in Cid becoming the Rainmaker, unless Joe removes himself from the equation. Sure he could have shot off his hand, but to complain about that is to miss the larger theme in Joe's character arc of noble redemption, and to die with honor. I just think it's a better story choice, and one that ultimately satisfies the character better, that Joe would be willing to die to save Sara's life,"

      I don't think killing himself is a better story choice, I think a better story ending choice, was what they were talking about in the diner, When he was threatening to choose another women to fall in love with.
      When Sara was bending over his body after he shot himself, My first thought was, he's still alive, she's going to save him. The picture in his watch is going to be a different one.
      The loop has already changed, because the future self, was/is messing with the past self, making the past self do different choices.(like letting him get a copy of future info, i.e the map) Because he now falls in love with the mother of the rainmaker and will turn into the rainmakers daddy. So the future goes along, he doesn't go to china, marry that woman, etc. That future self gets/got erased from existence. He chose to turn right, instead of left. he chose to leave the house 10 minutes earlier and not get run over by a mack truck, he chose to fall in love with the farm girl. That choice alone would make future self disappear, no need to shoot yourself in the chest.
      The rainmaker can still come about in the future, killing off the criminals, that are using illegal time jumping technology. Which did/was/were/is happening in the future anyway. It just seemed the rainmaker was a bad thing from a mafia members point of view.
      (Heck the way he was playing with the electronics, he could/is/was the inventor of the time machine) a force for good in the future,(with daddy's help, the rainmaker's powers, and mom's love :D)

  • Aleonardis

    I don't think Kid Blue is Abe at all. He smashes his hand with the hammer and doesn't react in any sort of way so I think that question was answered right then. So I think he could be a son.

    • GregDinskisk

      Yeah, same thoughts there. I was thinking he was going to look at his hand, and see a scar, but he didn't, so he probably wasn't him.

      Possible for him to be a son, but I doubt it, if the guy came 30 years from the future and was still that young.

      • Aleonardis

        He came 30 years from the future but that doesn't mean that Abe isn't out there somewhere in 2044...Abe isn't ridiculously young. The fact that young Abe and Old Abe are also in 2044 I think is the only paradox and/or plot hole in the entire movie but it's so small it doesn't even matter.

    • Dave

      SPOILERS: I still think Abe could have been Kid Blue. I got the impression that Abe was sent back from the past as punishment because he may have stuffed up in the past, the killing of all the Gat man maybe? Also when the young Joe cut into himself Old Joe didnt feel pain, he just saw the scar. Maybe Abe chose to use a hammer and not scar himeself for life. A broken hand will mend. Also by breaking his hand and making it more difficult for Kid Blue to do tricky stuff with his gun he could have potentially stop himself from shooting himself in the other foot?

      Also regarding the birth of the Rainmaker, I think it will still occur wether Sarah was shot or not. It only make sense to close all loops even if Cid/Rainmaker was brought up right or not/with or with out Sarah. Cid is aware time travel exists, also there is talk that not a gang takes over the other crime families but 1 person. By killing all loopers all he is doing is killing criminals and by acting alone he could be just seen as a messed up version of a vigilante. You take away time travel from the gangs and he secures his past/present/future. Even Sarah was willing to shot young joe with rock salt, i'm sure Cid would be able to reason with her that by doing these deeds innocent lives will be saved. This film I think was just the end of one possible time-line.

  • Akd

    The plot holes didn't really bother me that much because I was completely engrossed by the story to really pick at it while the film progressed. The point about "Rainmaker" not existing in Old Joe's timeline is valid but one could argue that it's just an inevitability, that some way there is going to be a "Rainmaker" regardless of whether it comes about because Old Joe killed his mom or another traumatic experience caused him to follow down the path of becoming the "Rainmaker". That would lead to a discussion about destiny, fate and a whole lot of other stuff that could get messy which I want to avoid but I did want to mention the possibility. Also, the comment someone made about Young Joe shooting off his hand rather than killing himself is a plausible scenario but not very effective in terms of storytelling or practicality. If Young Joe shot off his hand then Old Joe would simply drop the gun, he wouldn't feel any pain or be immobilized because it happened to him thirty years ago. The only thing shooting off his own hand would accomplish is further insure the escape of Cid because it would take time for Old Joe to react to the missing hand and get his bearings. All in all it was a very good film and I'm looking forward to reading everyones reactions.

  • Scott M

    Brad: Noah Segan answered someone who asked him the Kid Blue/Abe question on Twitter by saying there is a deleted scene that will be included on the DVD/Bluray explaining that. To me, that's 100% confirmation that Abe is old Kid Blue (which, to me, seemed very obvious even without them saying anything, but I would've liked that confirmation to be in the movie).

    To me, time travel plotholes are unavoidable and as long as they don't interfere with the story or the themes of the film, I don't even think about them.

    I get that certain plot holes exist, but because they exist for a really good reason (the theme of perpetual cycles of violence driven by a lack of care for young kids, especially by their parents, requires that climactic scene to be exactly the way it is), I don't care in the slightest that technically it couldn't happen that way.

    Also, Johnson claimed in an interview that you can shoehorn it into working which suggests to me that he spent a great deal of time thinking about all these issues, coming up with explanations, and choosing not to include those in the film so as not to bog down the film with overly wordy explanation scenes (a decision for which I'm very grateful).

    Looper is my favorite film of 2012 thus far, and it bothers me to see so many people attacking it in a way that seems so irrelevant to how it works as a film. I gave up on nitpicking a long time ago though. At the risk of sounding pretentious, I prefer emotional truth and continuity.

  • Matt

    The plot holes, in my opinon, were minor ones. I didn't even notice them as I watched the film. I really enjoyed this movie and forgive the plot holes for how entertaining and well made it was.

  • Roger Barbarumbus

    In the future, when you kill someone its known to the authorities. They take Old Joe to close his loop, but have no problem killing his wife?

    Also, when you know someone has to capture you and not kill you, don't you have more motivation to run even if a gun is being pointed in your face?

    And its fine to say sci-fi is fantasy and accept it as such despite holes like this, but when you are depending on these time travel constants to keep your story moving forward, people start getting confused when you directly contradict them. That's just the way it is.

    Overall, didn't ruin the film for me, but how this film got 93% approval on rottentomatoes is beyond me. After leaving it, I felt somewhat cheated that so many critics gushed over it, only to find it a middle of the road sci fi action film. I feel like if someone not named Rian Johnson made the same film, it would fare much poorer in their reviews.

    In the end, I was actually pretty glad to watch such a reprehensible character have the common sense to just shoot himself to end it all, but since the character was so selfish the entire film, it didn't feel genuine at all.

    • Aleonardis

      1: Old Joe's wife being killed was an accident. A scene later we see Old Joe being dragged away and the house is on fire as to cover up the fact that she had been murdered and create the illusion that she had died in an arson accident.

      2: Do you really think he was going to outrun 3 younger men? Come on.

      • Patrick

        "1: Old Joe's wife being killed was an accident. A scene later we see Old Joe being dragged away and the house is on fire as to cover up the fact that she had been murdered and create the illusion that she had died in an arson accident."

        Oh, so it's that easy to cover up the wife's murder? Why not just kill Old Joe right then and there, as if he's part of this fake arson accident? Then just send the gold bars back in time.

        In Looper's world: loopers are necessary because the mafia is unable to go around killing people in the future..... except for this one woman.... she's an exception...

        • Chris

          They killed the wife cause they were going to be long gone before authorities could respond anyway and you have to send the person back cause thats how they know that the contract is over. Wouldn't be the same just sending back gold cause maybe this person would just think they weren't killed for some reason

          • Patrick

            What contract? Who needs loopers anymore? You can just kill the person, fake an arson accident, and then make sure that you're "long gone before authorities could respond". Why bother with loopers at all? In fact, by hiring a bunch of loopers in the past, all you're doing is adding more people on your to-kill list for the future.

            The point is, the film's logic revolves around the fact that in the future, you cannot be "long gone before authorities could respond", which necessitates the existence of loopers. But having the wife get killed just flips off this entire logic.

        • Timbo

          Rian Johnson mentions in that same /Film article that the fire is not a great way to get away with the murders

          "As for the wife, that was a big mistake made by the mobsters and the reason we see the shot of the village burning is that’s their half-assed attempt to cover it up."

          Clearly, by saying it was a half-assed way to cover it up, this is not the smart way of killing someone, but burning the house was necessary once the mistake had been made. If they leave Old Joe, it leaves the option for his past to be investigated and possibly get back to the mob. I don't see this as a problem at all.

  • Good Grief

    I agree with most when they say the plot holes weren't a huge concern. There was, of course, the fleeting question of, "How is this happening to Young Joe when it didn't happen to Old Joe in HIS youth?" I answered that by basically saying, "Well, there has to be a start somewhere...the definitive chicken or egg." It might not make sense to most, but it worked for me.
    In all honesty, I don't think "Looper" is really a film to be discussed in depth. Well, not from an overly critical point anyway. Asking "Why?" about everything will lead to disappointment and, ultimately, questions that even the filmmakers don't have answers for. I think Johnson was going for entertainment rather than answering a million time travel questions. I feel the same way about "Triangle," a film that people debate a lot. Sure, it has a lot of, "But what if...?" moments but, all in all, it's a very well done time loop film.

    The Kid Blue question, however, IS interesting. Probably because there is a definitive answer. I just found him to be a cowardly grunt looking for a father figure and only after reading this article did I even consider the fact he was trying to impress his REAL father.

    • Akd

      It WAS happening to him. He gained memories as the story progressed with Young Joe, everything that Young Joe did was recalled as a memory for Old Joe. For example, when Young Joe smashed his phone and decided to return to his apartment, Old Joe recalled this memory and decided to act by following him there.

      • Good Grief

        Yes, but the memories were being formed as Young Joe created them. Old Joe had not gone through the same actions as a youth. His time line was growing old and meeting the love of his life, not meeting Old Joe WHEN he was Young Joe.
        Old Joe's timeline didn't involve time travel UNTIL he became Old Joe and was sent back, making his timeline line the start of it all.
        My point is that we should really argue, "Well, if Old Joe was once Young Joe then he would already know that he grows old and gets sent back because he would have already been there and done it." It may make everything loop, but it takes away from the film if we're going to argue the credibility of something entirely fictional.

        • Akd

          You make a valid point about Old Joe having went through what Young Joe is currently going through but if you recall, the movie showed an alternate timeline of Young Joe successfully killing Old Joe and closing the loop. We then see this variation of Young Joe grow old and become the Old Joe that we're familiar with. This is where the theory of alternate timelines comes in and obviously this is also where fiction takes over. If we were to base the argument in terms of reality it doesn't make much sense. My perspective is that Old Joe is an anomaly and since he isn't in his current timeline, he really isn't the same variation as the Young Joe that we've come to know and isn't familiar with this timeline. Therefore this variation of Old Joe doesn't know what Young Joe's future holds but since he was transported into this timeline and is altering the past, whatever "new" and altered experience Young Joe goes through is then in return registered with Old Joe as a "new" memory. You can poke holes in this theory left and right and its obviously based on fiction and not facts but it makes sense to me in some ways.

          • Ron

            I don't know if this is too simplified but I'm trying to find a way to put this together. Where did Abe find Joe? Did he find Joe in the future, or after he was sent back? If Old Joe is sent back to be killed by young Joe, this happens, and young Joe grows into old Joe to be sent back 30 years later to be killed by....Nobody. This is why I'm concerned with the root of the loop. There is no longer a young Joe if Abe found him after being sent back. However, if Joe was brought with Abe from the future in the first place there would be a much younger Joe around? Which still doesn't make much sense. Someone else has to kill the looper after his retirement. Or am I lost?

        • Alex

          The only time I was slightly taken out of the movie was when Old Joe's life was shown up until he becomes Old Joe. He had already killed himself when he was young, so my problem with the film was "How did Old Joe break the time loop by fighting off the guards and then voluntarily go back in time without being tied up or without a hood over his head?" I mean, if it's truly a time loop, and if the previous "Old Joe" that got killed could not escape his fate, what makes this other Old Joe an exception? Also, since Young Joe usually kills his target the second they appear, why did he delay when Old Joe showed up? sure, he didn't have a hood over his head but his head was also down and there was a considerable amount of time until Old Joe's face was revealed to Young Joe. But it was pretty bad ass watching Bruce reveal himself the way he did.

          • Will-E

            Seth's failure leads to Old Joe (it actually is old Joe, just not Willis yet) having the conversation with Abe he wouldn't have had. These kind of things get "messy." This disruption in the timeline is what allows Old Joe to consciencely make a decision to go to China instead of France, falls in love. Without this love he wouldn't have the need to survive. "Don't go to France" isn't a I already know what you're going to do, but a China is better than France in the future statement. Abe aided this discruption giving Willis the motivation to avoid execution and travel back in time to fix it.

  • Beautifulm

    I thought that the question about the rainmaker existing. Is kind of irrelevant BC we never see how Cid becomes the rainmaker in the first place. If the interaction with young Joe is what changed Cid and not his mother dying it would make sense. It seems like after Joe came Cid was more accepting of his mother. Who knows maybe the rainmaker was a vigilante since loopers were killers anyway.

  • cj

    I enjoyed the movie, and this didn't hamper my enjoyment, but if someone were looking to poke a large hole in the story, look no further than the mob killing Bruce Willis' Asian wife in the future. No sending her back, no complicated Looper stuff, just straight up, old school, shot in the stomach. I thought that wasn't allowed and was the reason for all the Looper business?
    But, as I said, I glossed over it and still enjoyed the movie. I applaud a studio and distributor for taking a chance on an original movie rather than an adaptation of a pre-existing property like a comic book, board game, etc. It was refreshing to see.

    • Good Grief

      Well, we have to remember that the death of Old Joe's wife DID look like an accident. The mob guy saw someone move and seemed to pull the trigger out of fright, if anything. The only thing missing is that we don't see what happens to him as a result of the murder.

    • Alex C

      AND they burned the entire house down. So that's an extreme and messy cover-up.

    • Jeff Gramza

      If it really were so unthinkable for the mafia to kill anyone in the future, why would the men who showed up in the future to capture Old Joe even be carrying deadly weapons? They can't risk using them anyway, so why even have them? And if they don't have them when they go to get Old Joe, then his wife doesn't get accidentally killed in the first place.

  • Jimmy Diamies

    I agree mostly with what Ian and a few others have said. I believe Young Joe's interaction with Sarah and Cid creates the change needed to stop the Rainmaker and you can justify that however you like since we aren't shown how Cid initially grew up. He was obviously happy to have a man around the house and at times he showed a lot of disdain for Sarah. Young Joe helped reconcile their relationship with one-another.

    I also started to think, while watching, that Kid Blue was young Abe. The guy was pretty incompetent and would have likely been killed by Abe if he wasn't. I thought they looked similar as well. Also, Old Joe could not have been disposed of with his wife in the fire unless it was made to look like murder suicide I suppose. By taking Old Joe and sending him back you basically frame him for the murder and he disappears.

    My favorite of 2012 so far.

    • Reets

      Has anyone considered that Kid Blue is Abe's father, not his son? The timeline would make more sense, his reluctance to kill him for his incompetence and his familiarity with him. Perhaps he's getting a little of his own back for a crappy upbringing...thoughts??

  • Hamza Zain

    The thing with Cid was that up until the third act, he didn't accept Sara as his mom. He believed her sister was his real mom, and the memory of her death had fueled him. The introduction of Young Joe into his life forced him to reconcile with the fact that Sara is his actual mom, and make him realize he does have a mom. Now that he believes Sara is his true mom, witnessing her death would bring back the memories of his "old" mom dying as well as her dying. Basically what I'm trying to say is the introduction of Young Joe to Cid changes who he is.

    As for Kid Blue, I thought from early on that Abe was his older version. The 30 years age gap makes sense, as they say early on Abe was a looper sent back in time to run everything. In my mind, this meant that Abe's version of Kid Blue had probably done some great things to warrant this promotion, instead of getting killed, and thus young Kid Blue simply wanted to live up to that.

    • Ian

      I hadn't thought about that interpretation, re Cid learning Sara was him real mother because of Joe. That would help explain what drove Cid to becoming the Rainmaker in the original timeline, and strengthens the argument that Cid doesn't become the Rainmaker following the events of the film.

    • Will-E

      Took the words out of my mouth. Original timeline fueled by his "mother death". Timeline 2 by Sara's. and the final she is saved. Sara now longer has to fear her son as their relationship is on its way to be healed. The loop is closed, it's finally broken. Not a plot hole at all.

      • Will-E

        Loop isn't closed.

  • Mikey

    All time travel movies exist within their own set of rules. Back to the Future, Terminator, and Men in Black 3 all present time travel differently and in the way most convenient for their movie.

    When it comes to Looper, I think time travel was simply a tool used to allow the movie to ask questions and present themes and I trusted Rian Johnson that everything would make as much sense as it would have to. Looper presented ideas involving necessary evils, self-sacrifice, and the past repeating itself. I thought all of these ideas were presented very well with plenty of room for discussion, and if this form of time travel made those ideas easier to get across, then it was the right thing for the movie.

    Also I definitely thought Kid Blue was young Jeff Daniels.

  • cj

    " 'Everybody in the movie has this nano technology tracking in their body and whenever there's a death, a location tag is sent to the authorities from this tracking material.' " So, using that explanation, you wouldn't want to kill someone in the future and then send them back in time because it would lead the authorities to your time machine."

    The problem is you'd still lead the authorities to your time machine because the victims' nano tracker signals would all be cutting out at the same location--the time machine--when they time traveled. It wouldn't take Sherlock Holmes to figure out something is amiss when dozens of people's nano-trackers keep dropping off the face of the earth at the same location.

    Again, I enjoyed the movie but you'd at least have to have a mobile time machine so the authorities couldn't pinpoint the location of the nano-tag disappearances (which might be tough considering the considerable energy requirements to warp space-time).

    • Jeff

      The nano tag is sent only when there is a death - so when people are sent back in time their nano tags weren't triggered.

  • William

    The plot hole that I can't get my head around is if Young Joe kills himself, making Old Joe vanish, then how were all of the events that Old Joe created through out the film (killing all of the mob, etc) stay the same way? Shouldn't Old Joe's disappearance change the whole timeline of the movie?

    • Gilad

      No because at the point where Young Joe kills himself, Old Joe coming back and killing all the mob and whatever was a past event, and future events cannot change past events, only vice-verse.
      So Young Joe killing himself and thus saving Cid's mom might ALLOW for an alternate future version where Cid doesn't grow up to be the rainmaker.

      • Nate

        Not so. In order for there to be such a thing as time travel, the future MUST be able to affect the past. Otherwise, Old Joe could never have arrived in the past; could never have changed anything in the past; and at the very least, no event affecting Young Joe could affect Old Joe. These things are all established within the movie, therefore, when Young Joe shoots himself, it destroys time.

  • Steve

    Are we supposed to assume that the Rainmaker invented the rule that all loops are closed after 30 years? Because if not, I don't understand Old Joe's motivation in trying to kill the young Rainmaker. Joe closes his loop. He gets his 30 years. The goons come to send him back in time and accidentally shoot his wife. How is any of that the Rainmaker's fault, even if he's now "closing loops for no reason?" It doesn't appear as if the Rainmaker does anything to Joe that the syndicate wouldn't have done anyway.

  • Keith


    The Rainmaker is closing all the contracts in his present. 30 years in the past, all the loopers seem to be getting "retired" in quick succession, uncommonly so. The only thing that is certain is the fixed 30 year time period of retirement. The actual start and end dates of this 30 years is up to the Rainmaker's decision to kill the future ex-looper.

  • Paul Grant

    Seeing as one can pinpoint the drop location in the past, the easiest way to dispose of people is to zap them back directly into the blast furnace, a meat grinder, or just above an active volcano, etc, etc, etc. There is NO need for the loopers in the first place. Why expose to ANYone in the past that you have this incredible time machine?

    This is the type of movie that I love, but starts falling apart pretty fast once you get out of the theatre.

    • Joshua Leedleman

      Mentioning this as a plot hole implies to me a very shallow understanding of the logistics of time travel in this universe. It irks me when people dismiss a story as full of plot holes which in reality are constructed not on a missing story element but on a void of thought on the audience's part. So here are a few points to consider:

      It's time travel. Not teleportation. Which means that the criminal organizations in the future can't just send back bodies to anywhere; they are severely limited by the locations of their time machines, which one can safely assume are in remote/secret areas. Admittedly, you could construct a furnace or meat grinder in the middle of a field, but that would be very likely to warrant investigation in the present. Correspondingly, housing a time machine on top of a volcano does not seem wise in the future.

      Someone must be sent to the past to ensure that the process runs smoothly. So many things could go wrong with simply setting the body-dumping factory's outflow destination to 30 years past. It makes sense not only to have a collection agency but some sort of military force and execution squad. The fact that they have control of the city guarantees no external interference.

      There have certainly been some compelling complaints about plot holes in the story. This is not one of them.

      • Trent

        It amuses me that you are disparaging others' grasp of time travel when you have completely failed to recognize that the time machine must necessarily displace the subject both temporally and spatially. If it didn't then everyone they sent back in time would end up in outer space.

        • CurbYourEnthusiasm

          To venture that everyone would end up in outer space given a time frame of exactly 30 years (give or take however much is required to adjust for location on the earth) is ridiculous. This also satisfactorily explains how Old Joe (assuming that he was sent back from 2074 China) is able to appear in 2044 Kansas. Time and space being purely relative, I will make no claims regarding time travel outside of this fictional universe*, but you can comfortably assume that Rian Johnson didn't simply overlook the most obvious complaint that would be lodged against the Looper process.

          I'm so glad that your ability to ignore implications allows you to be amused.

          *Like Brad says, it does not exist.

          • Trent

            Our solar system rotates around the galactic core at slightly under 500 THOUSAND MILES PER HOUR. You really think sending someone back in time 30 years without adjusting their position in space is only going to send them a few thousand miles across the planet?

            • BustARhyme

              Breaking out the all caps, I see
              For bravado's false authority
              Guess what? The earth rotates around the sun
              Get back in school, you sure aren't done.

              • David

                So... do you want to talk about the expansion of the universe? Or do you think our sun is stationary within the universe as everything else moves? lol

              • Hello!


                You are an idiot if you think that time and space are anything but relative.

              • David

                Haha, easy there... It's just a movie. I'm sure you've embarrassed yourself over much more important things.

              • Hello!

                Sorry, I don't promote scientific illiteracy through any medium.

          • John Lewis

            But the point is, if they can send somebody from China to Kansas, why not send them to the middle of the Pacific?

      • Narmitaj

        It does seem as though the mob of 2074 can select where to send their victims, as each looper appears to have his own killing ground (Levitt in a field, Dano in a ruined part of the city). Also, the time machine itself (or the only one we see) is in Shanghai but the victims appear somewhere in North America.

        But time travel does seem to be fixed to a strict "when", ie exactly 30 years beforehand. It is literally like clockwork - Levitt expects his victim bang on time by his watch, and is surprised when the victim is even a few seconds late. People in 2044 understand that someone has started winding up all the contracts in 2074, but the two timezones seem to advance at the same rate.

        • Paul Grant

          Narmita, thank you for proving my point. Since the Loopers have shown that time/location can be known for transport, it's also safe to assume that people can be disposed of into (pick your gruesome scenario) rather than into remote areas for people to shoot you. Loopers are unnecessary and expensive... two things a Mob does not tolerate.

          • brain

            Argh! The movie is called "Looper", thus the necessity for Loopers! That is, telling a story about them! What is the fun in picking this (or any movie) apart so mercilessly? Time travel doesn't have to be consistent across movies, just within each movie universe. I'd never considered that Kid Blue was Abe until now...

  • Pauly

    How does Cid's mom know about loopers? If it was mentioned i missed it. Did she use to hook up with drunk loopers who couldnt keep their mouth shut when she used to party?

  • Aleonardis

    One thing. Does anybody know how Old Joe got the birthday and hospital code?

    • cj

      There's a quick scene of a man, who seems to be in the middle of a raging battle, calling Old Joe and giving him the info.

  • Paul

    The need for loopers is still hard to swallow. So the authorities lojack everyone and know right away if they die. At the height of organized crime in this country the police would find bodies left and right. Mob executions were done anyway. And in the future organized crime supposedly ran the major cities. Why would they care if the police knew right away if someone died? Also, old joes wife shot and then trying to pass it off as arsen? Aren't there any arsen investigators or detectives who would find the bullet in her stomach? For the last half of the movie I was anxiously waiting for a final revelation that explained everything perfectly to justify 93% RT score. Instead the ending opened up even more questions that the rest of the movie.

  • Kimberlesk

    I got the feeling that Kid Blue was Young Abe. Also, I couldn't help but think of the boy in the Twilight Zone movie while watching Cid. Kinda the same premise -- everyone will be afraid of him, knowing he has powers. Anyone else distracted about halfway thru and to the end of how strange JGL looked? I get that he was supposed to look like Bruce, but I don't think it was as much in the beginning. It seemed to get more exaggerated as the film progressed. Wondering if this was on purpose?
    Most of all though, I love the endless discussion this film is generating. I haven't had this much fun reading comments since Inception! Cheers!

  • Paul Grant

    Loopers are not needed because:

    - The mob already appears to run everything... so why hide a few assassinations?
    - If you can dump a live person anywhere in the past, why not into a pit, etc.? They could cut costs drastically and not have to pay out in precious metals.


    - Why have Loopers kill themselves off rather than finish off a fellow looper? It would drastically cut down on people freaking out over killing their future selves. My ONLY thought for why the Mob does this is out of some sick pleasure. But it's still asinine and counter-productive. If you're going through the massive trouble of sending someone back in time, why would you be willing to take ANY new risks?


    • Brad Brevet

      The whole question of the need for Loopers is definitely a question that could ruin the movie. I grant you that wholly.

    • Arthur Carlson

      I think it has to do with timeline manipulation maybe. The idea of closing the loop seems important within the realm of the timeline. It's messy business and dangerous. I think that the Rainmaker is closing all the loops so that his timeline where he is the power stays in place. I think there may be multiple timelines all over the place since the mafia probably played with different alternate timelines to get to this one, and are very careful to keep the status quo so as to avoid any sort of alternate timelines. I think that the characters don't understand the nature of time travel and thus we as an audience don't get the whys as to how it works. It works this way, and there are higher ups that figured out how it works and can manipulate it. The actual assassination element is vague, we don't know who is being sent back to be killed or why they are being killed. There could be a deeper reasoning behind the concept of loopers than just "kill undesirables." As Abe says, it's a messy business.

      Or we could not care about the nature of the loopers and enjoy the film playing with the theme of time and how an alteration in events could lead to a new perspective, a new character if you will. At the center, we have young Joe as the hero and old Joe as the villain, but they are the same person. And the scene between them at the diner is a tense, fascinating scene where you view your older self and younger self as not even really you, but as a different person. I think in this case, the theme outweighs the plot.

  • Connor420

    I loved Looper. My favorite film so far this year, one of the best sci-fi movies ever made, and one of my favorite movies now. I also think Joseph Gordon Levitt is one of the best rising stars of the 2010s, along with Tom Hardy, Michael Fassbender, Jeremy Renner, and Ryan Gosling. But I wasn't too happy with the ending. I think JGL could have prevented the Reignmaker's evil by shooting Bruce Willis or shooting his hand off instead of sacrificing himself.

  • Arthur Carlson

    I hate that I'm late to the party, but I just saw this yesterday. And yes, it's a superior sci fi film that immerses you into its world. Great film, and my favorite so far this year.

    I think the thing with these plot holes is that we don't understand how time travel actually works or at least the physics within this world. For some reason, breaking the loop is dangerous, hence why you can't kill a looper when they are young, it breaks the loop. After all, though Old Joe is changing the past, he still meets his wife, and she is still killed. In other words, timelines remain constant as long as the loop is closed. Hence, Young Joe's action breaks the loop and the timeline is altered hopefully to the point where it prevents the creation of the Rainmaker, but we aren't sure as of yet.

    The thing is that the mafia seems to know all these rules. The government does as well. But how do you know these rules? Well, probably because we are (and not to get too Matrix-y) probably seeing a twentieth timeline here. The timeline has probably been altered so many times in this movie as mistakes were made to create the notion of closing loops to keep the timeline intact. And that's fascinating when you think about it. I think that's the point of Rian's previous comment on the subject, that you can shoehorn things into it. The reason being is that there is a set of rules and physics that we as the audience may not be getting, but they are there. And obviously someone had to have experimented to learn these rules. I don't think it's an actual plot hole since it does seem to work within the logic it set for itself, since we are given the tools to create our own logic for the world.

    Also, I think that the murder of Joe's wife was an accident, and it was a half assed attempt to cover it up. But we also don't know who they are sending back to be killed. Powerful figures? People that will be missed and lead to an intense investigation? I think that's another area where only so much is given so we can shoehorn in our own logic for this world.

    Or I could just be crazy.

  • Paul Grant

    It's funny to see people run themselves in circles (har har) over paradoxical questions involving Joe, when the real question is, WHY have Loopers at all?

    Unfortunately the movie shoots itself in the foot within the first 15 minutes by revealing that a Looper would know the EXACT time and place in the past that the victim is to show. If this is knowable, then it should also be possible to teleport a person into an active volcano, or directly into a blast furnace.

    Let's assume that the time machine is built in the future on the exact spot of the corn field, and one can only teleport back to that specific location. The mobsters could buy the farm with very little silver and install a hidden automated killing factory. I mean, it's the mob right? That would be far more believable than hiring loopers to discharge a loud weapon and drag a body around for disposal.

    To sum things up, Loopers are not needed, and the mob is wasting perhaps millions on silver payment for no good reason. This erodes the very foundation for the movie and renders any conjecture on Joe's future as superfluous.

  • Paul Grant

    The writers for Looper can't seem to decide if Joe's future self, when he steps through the time machine, is independent or not.

    I would argue that if we could travel back in time, that our futures would split at that point. Old Joe would still have had his memories, and would continue to live out his days in the past, and young Joe would be free to live out his days in an alternate timeline. If time lines involve divergence, you could never travel back in time to your own exact timeline, you could only "shift lanes" so to speak.

    • Mostly Anon

      @Paul Grant: Easily shoehorned by saying that this is the 200th iteration of the future, and currently the most stable. In this stable version, that area is a corn field and uninhabited (whereas in the 87th iteration of the future, it was a kill-factory, which was subverted by another future-mob in the 123rd iteration, and subsequently remained a corn field at the 157th 200th iterations).

      When one future is impossible/negated, a new iteration of the future is generated.

      The film itself had at least 6 iterations of the future in it at once (Pre-Seth, Seth, Phone-smash-save, Hammer, Sarah shot, Sarah saved).

  • Paul Grant

    Anon, you're trying to throw the kitchen sink at this. The movie really deals with only 2 distinct timelines intersecting where Joe is concerned -

    1. The one where Joe kills his older self, and therefore goes on to live out his days and meet his Asian wife, etc.

    2. The one where Joe fails to kill his older self, and older Joe runs amok of young Joe's future.

    The movie doesn't deal with divergence (as I suggested it could have) but paradox. I was arguing that the universe may have a built-in anti-paradox feature where any time traveler could never actually travel back in time to their own past, but rather a divergent timeline. In loopers, because there is no timeline divergence, you can wind up with paradoxes.

    The mobsters clearly believe in continuity of time or they would not be able to pinpoint the where and when of delivery.

    Seth old/new is not part of a separate timeline... it's happening in the current one for young Joe. And Sarah being shot or saved is still part of timeline 1 or 2.

  • Dyrkness

    Of all the plot holes mentioned, I haven't seen anyone mention the fact that if Young Joe killed himself, there WOULD NOT BE an Old Joe.

  • Nathan

    I loved the movie AND I understand how ridiculous time travel stories are but . . .
    According to the logic of the movie, your future self suffers whatever injuries are inflicted upon your present self up to and including death. Joe's future self is murdered by his younger self. Joe then lives thirty years and gets the drop on the mobsters sent to apprehend him and send him to his present-self to be killed. Joe gets the drop on his younger/present self and the adventure begins. BUT - if young (in the past but also present) Joe already killed old (from the future) Joe, Old (present) Joe would have about two seconds to live, after which time his old/present self would be older than his older/present self and thus would have died. Otherwise, a avery entertaining movie and what's a good time travel movie without loose ends?

  • Paul Grant

    The irony about old Joe trying to change his death in the past, is that it completely destroys what he was trying to save... his future.

  • Brian

    I haven't heard or seen this plot hole discussed so I will give it a try.

    Old Joe kills Abe and all of the Gat Men (they said their entire syndicate was at the HQ to move in on Young Joe) Old Joe obliterates all of them then later on Young Joe kills Kid Blue thus killing ALL MEMBERS

    This means... Old Joe's syndicate is eradicated meaning nobody will keep tabs on him and send him back to close his loop. Wouldn't this mean all is done Old Joe would have disappeared because nobody would be around to send him back to the past...

    Counter argument is, well it was Rainmaker's men in the future that zapped him back. Well if that's the case that would mean Old Joe's syndicate would have to be around in order for Rainmaker to take control of it and then figure out which Loopers to close their loops. But since Old Joe changed all that, his syndicate is not around to be controlled or taken over meaning that again, nobody is around to know who the fuck Joe is and if he is/was a Looper in the first place.

  • Michele

    Loved the movie. My major problem is the *first* time we see young Joe NOT kill old Joe. My understanding of that scene was that after young Joe goes back to his apartment and eventually falls off the fire escape, he dies, because the next scene we see is of young Joe killing old Joe. I took that to mean that the filmmaker was setting up the rule of a paradox: I.e., if young Joe dies, old Joe never exists to come back and start the chain of events that leads to young Joe dying, so somehow we end up back at the "original" timeline where young Joe kills old Joe and gets to grow old.

    So to me the ending is just another form of the very paradox that it showed in the first iteration, I.e, the filmmaker broke his own rule if he is trying to imply that now the future will be changed forever as opposed to "resetting" like it did after the first iteration. Am I getting this right?

    • Inara

      No. Young Joe doesn't die. He just blacks out. The movie then switches to tell us the alternative timeline - the timeline that happened the first time around as it were - in which young Joe kills future Joe and lives his life, then becoming the future Joe that returns to the past and creates the second timeline, in which young Joe blacks out. We then pick up with that second timeline and we see young Joe regain consciousness. I'm really confused as to how you came to your interpretation but hope this helps.

  • blackcat

    Correct me if im wrong.

    but isnt cid actually Joe?
    coz they have the same childhood memories. Joe remembers his mum abonding him and Cid thinks the same thing. Also abe says he found joe all messed up and angry which was Cids path.

    • Narmitaj

      I thought that briefly as I saw the film, as the camera seemed to linger on the three faces in turn - Cid and the two Joes, and indeed young Joe looked more like Cid than he looked like Bruce Wilis. But then Cid would have, at some point after this meeting but before getting too old to notice, to have been sent back in time 26 years in order to grow up as Joe. And time travel doesn't exist in 2044.

      First time here, so hallo.

    • Bg

      I thought this too. In that case Sara was involved in incest since she had sex with Joe, her son actually who is Sid. Maybe incest created the evil Sid-Joe-rainmaker?? Or is sid Antichrist? What about biblical allusions to Sarah and Abraham and Joseph? Maybe Sarah is magdelaine? The "whore" after being impregnated by Joseph-joe? This can go on and on....

  • blackcat

    Id also like to point out that when Young Joe gets shot my Sara in the barn he gets hit in the right shoulder, Old joe evens sees the scar on the right.
    but later you see Sara cleaning the wound on his left shoulder.

  • Narmitaj

    I really enjoyed the film, but I also really enjoy thinking and talking about plot holes and narrative mis-steps; a time-travel movie just gives you more opportunity for this stuff.

    I get the metaphorical power of having a looper kill himself - it stands for anyone who makes poor decisions today that they have to pay for in the future, like taking too many drugs or not saving for retirement (both relevant sub-themes in this movie). I also thought, at first, that it gave the looper a bit of certainty: when he kills his older self, he knows he is guaranteed 30 years of retirement. Turns out, though, that that is not the case, as time is a lot more malleable - young Joe successfully kills himself and presumably any other looper could die in a car crash or of a drug overdose in the following 30 years.

    The looper system does seem quite silly in mob terms when you think about it - time travel is super-illegal in 2074, so why have lots of retired and non-too-reliable loopers hanging around 30 years waiting to be shot when they could blab to their friends and families and more importantly the authorities at any time? Are none of them undercover cops? Do none seek protection? It doesn't seem to be kept secret: Emily Blunt knows about loopers and doesn't seem that surprised, so you feel that a lot of other people in 2044 know about it, even though time travel doesn't exist yet, so how come the authorities have forgotten in 2074? Presumably, though we don't know, time travel was invented by some government programme and then made illegal, but you'd think the authorities would monitor the situation (and it is no good saying, well, the authorities in 2074 are corrupted by the mob, since in that case hiding a few murders would be little problem).

    Joe's execution working-place looks a lot like a piece of Emily Blunt's farm... is that because the people in 2074 know something about her and picked her farm, or was it simply a convenient location for the production to use and has no other significance?

    Another possibility for Cid is that he goes on to invent time travel - he seems technically-minded, and maybe his super-TK powers (moving people around in space) lead him to figure out moving people around in time. If so, then when he becomes the Rainmaker, he creates the possibility of Loopers in the first place. If he doesn't become the Rainmaker, does he still invent time travel? If he does, is it for good? If he doesn't, then there aren't any loopers at all.

    I don't know if we learnt who Cid's father was, did we? If, as was suggested by someone, Blunt used to hang out with gangs and loopers, which is how she knows about them, maybe the father is one of them, maybe even Abe. It sounds like Abe doesn't know about the Rainmaker, as he came from the future before he comes to power. It also sounds from that as though the future runs in 30-year lockstep with "now", ie the time machine can only send people back 30 years (otherwise why not send a string of victims from 2069 to 2074 to a single time and place in 2044 and deal with them in a batch instead of one by one).

    You don't get the impression that the telekinesis is a big deal in 2074, so maybe Cid is the only super-TK guy in all that time.

    There are other little niggles... if not letting a victim from the future live more than 2 seconds is such a big deal, why trust the killings to these pretty whacky-looking and presumably marginally unreliable looper individuals, who seem drugged up half the time... how does the mob know they won't oversleep, or get a flat tire on the way to work? A two-man team would be good, at least. How do they know that the killing grounds aren't observed by picnickers or passers-by? (Seth kills people in an urban space).

    As these guys are working solo, how do Abe and the gang know that a looper has failed to shoot his victim - whether it is his old self or not - and has let the guy from the future escape? Joe goes alone and sticks the body in an incinerator. If Abe has one of those tracking devices that reads the nanotech tag of a person from the future and notices it coming live on arrival at 11.30 (or whenever) but failing to go off when the guy is supposed to be killed 2 seconds later, that just raises the issue of the situation in 2074: surely the authorities notice a whole bunch of people regularly disappearing off their tracker database in one small corner of a factory in Shanghai.

    A major issue is "where" is Joe when he is doing the voice-over at the end, when he shoots himself? A voice-over generally indicates that a person is telling the story after the fact and while alive, so having him say "so then I killed myself, and now I'm dead" is a bit of a no-no. Sure, some stories are narrated by someone dead, like Sunset Boulevard and The Lovely Bones, but you know the story is about a dead person right from the start and the narrator is looking down from another place.

    I might have to see the film again one day.

    As I say, I really enjoyed it, but I also enjoy thinking about how it is all supposed to fit together. I did continuity on one movie, and it is a headache enough thinking a linear story through, let alone one with time jumps. You injure a guy, or make him wet, and then you have to figure out how long he keeps bleeding/wearing a bandage/showing a scar, or when his clothes dry out. I bet the continuity and makeup people were annoyed that young Joe had to have that stupid piece of sticking plaster on his ear for so much of the film, for instance!

  • adu

    I loved everyone's interpretations, but my head is hurting, so all I wanna say is Looper is a great movie!

  • LindaBee

    I'm sure I missed something at the beginning of the movie because it took me a while to unravel the time-travel concept of the film, so someone set me straight. We see an intended victim escape his execution, and he starts falling apart, finally making his way to a place where he can finally be killed and put out of his misery. Why didn't that happen to Old Joe when he escaped his execution?

    • Narmitaj

      He isn't falling apart just because he is in the past, it's kind of being done to him remotely in real time.

      The gat men don't catch Joe/Levitt, but they have captured fall-apart-guy's younger, present self (Paul Dano) and are torturing him in the now, eg by clipping off his fingers. The way time travel works in this movie, the effect ripples through to the old version of a person, so in a way he was "always" maimed. Old guy gets shot, and then - which is a bit odd - presumably the young guy is kept alive but maimed for 30 years and then stuck in a time machine, sent back, and killed; this time he can't run and maybe his mouth is sealed up so he can't whistle or hum a tune.

      In a macro way this preserves some sort of timeline, but in another way it doesn't, as then he can't escape the 2nd time round, and so the next young version kills him as he is supposed to and lives normally and grows old and is sent back (and then maybe whistles and hums and escapes this 3rd time round). Or maybe the young version is patched up with advanced mid-21stC medicine and grows replacement limbs and nose and is sent back to escape all over again when he grows old.

      So that is how Joe in 2044 scratching his arm causes old Joe to get a scarred arm; he didn't have it before, but when he noticed it, he know knows he "always" had it. That's why his memories cloud... young Joe is creating new memories for old Joe.

      At first it seemed like the movie indicated that if you killed your older self then you knew you were guaranteed 30 years of life, but it turns out that is not the case, as both Joes are able to change things - the first version kills his old Joe, grows old as Willis, comes back, and is not in turn killed by the young Joe; young Levitt Joe manages to create a scar on old Joe that he didn't have before. So maybe this changing is going on all the time.

      In fact, having the loopers kill their own 30-year older selves makes timeline changing all the more likely. Fine if the mob from 2074 wants to send random dead bodies back to 2044 and disappear them. But it seems madness to allow the killers to live a further 30 years with all that knowledge and develop strategies to avoid being shot in their turn, such as whistling. Much better for the mob not to let that happen. How? Well, it seems that they hired as their killers people who they knew were still alive in the early 2070s. Why not hire people they knew, from census reports, had died young and violently in, say, 2048 or 2051- they would a be a self-exterminating troupe of killers, gone before time travel existed.

      But then, the people from the 2070s are locked into hiring loopers, as these people had been looper killers 30 years before and lived grown old through the development of time travel... The mob in the early 70s would be aware there was a bunch of retired looper killers living in their midst, so now they have to create a stream of victims to send back to be shot in order to maintain those peoples' pasts. So where is the actual "now" where these chicken and egg decisions are first made?

  • Paul Grant

    Maybe they should have called it Loopholes

  • Trent

    The only problem with saying that something else could have happened to turn Cid into the Rain Maker is that Joe describes the events of the cornfield exactly as he made them happen (Cid having a synthetic jaw and having seen his mother get shot) which would seem to indicate that Cid became the Rain Maker through the actions of Joe which couldn't have happened yet.

  • Chris

    It would be really interesting if kid blue was actually Jeff Daniel's father. Father looking for son's approval. Unfortunately the time difference is only 30 years.

  • Chris

    Also... Loopers wouldn't be necessary if the future mob just sent people back in time to a spot in the middle of Antarctica with no clothes, or in the crater of an active volcano... etc etc..... We know that they can send people from future china to past Kansas, so why not?

  • Norman

    I'm a 50 year old man in 2074. I get sent back to 2044 and am killed by a looper. Isn't there a 20 year old version of me in 2044 that will continue to live and end up as a 50 year old version of me in 2074?

    • Narmitaj

      Yes. Anyone older than 30 in 2074 will be out and about in the world. (Just as I am now a 54-year old man; back in 1982 there was a 24-year old version of me wandering about, and there was whether I stay here or someone sends me back and shoots me).

      You'd think the fact that a 50-yo version of you is sent back 30 years to be shot would indicate that the 20-yo version is guaranteed 30 years of life, but as the film unfolds that turns out not to be the case. Old Joe can show up from 2074 and do stuff in 2044 that has a lasting effect - the main one we see is that he drove a van full of silver out to the farm - even though young Joe only lives a few days into the 30-year "retirement" period and his death makes old Joe vanish.

  • Norman

    I think I'm getting there. The death of Young Joe eliminates Old Joe. That makes sense given the construct we're working within. When you do something to the Younger version (2044) it affects the older version (2074 or 2044) regardless of where they actually happen to be in time. If Young Joe were to kill Old Joe Young Joe would eventually end up as Old Joe in 2074. From the perspective of anyone in 2074, Old Joe never would have left. They're actually not accomplishing what they think they are. They're not eliminating the target. If they really wanted to solve the problem, Loopers should find and kill the younger version (2044 or whenever they were born) of the person they're trying to eliminate. Instead of sending the target back in time, just send an address like they did with the Rain Maker.

  • Norman

    Just so I've said it, I thoroughly enjoyed the film plot holes (or not) and all. The fact that we're talking about it days after seeing it is a big plus in my mind!

  • Donny

    I tried to make all the leaps of faith/belief to enjoy the movie. One minor point that remained bothersome was the Sara guessed that Joe was a looper. Average people 30 years before time travel is invented know about loopers being used in the present by the Mafia in the future? How is that and why would that de necessary to any plot point anyway? Did I miss something? Thank you in advance for your thoughts.

    • Narmitaj

      I don't know why it was considered necessary for the plot - if anything, it undermines the secrecy around the time machine in 2074. If random people in 2044 know about time travel loopers presumably police informers also know, so how come the authorities have forgotten all about them in 2074? They know enough about time travel to ban it, after all.

      However, Sara's knowledge may be a character clue - ie that she, like Joe's stripper girlfriend, hung around and partied with the gangs, and maybe she has some sympathy for a looper's existential angst. If so, maybe Cid's father was a gang member... we don't ever hear about him, do we? Although the movie has some father-like characters (Abe, old Joe, the armourer) we don't have to put up with actual father-son emoting such as Hollywood often has to shoehorn in.

      However, maybe Sara saying "are you a looper?" is just a lazy shortcut so the writer didn't have to have Joe either 1) explain in detail what we-the-audience already knew to an incredulous Sara, who would scarcely believe it and need a lot of screen-time persuading about or 2) have Joe say nothing at all, meaning Sara would be clueless about what was going on while violent men slugged it out on her property.

  • CJohn

    If JGL never showed up in Sarah's house, Cid would have thought that is true mom was actually Sarah's sister and would have never be friend of Sarah, so he becomes to Rainmaker because of that.

  • Paul

    OK - a lot missing the point.
    The original timeline Joe dies because he falls off the roof.
    History repeats because it creates a paradox
    2nd timeline kills old joe
    He then lives his his life, goes to Shanghai, etc.
    2nd timeline joe get kidnapped, wife shot, and is sent back...
    This then creates 3rd timeline joe
    3rd timeline then kills himslef at the standoff in the field.
    ****SO WHY NO 4th timeline! he was never old to go back and cause any of it!

    OK - so this is where we hit the multiverse/multiple timelines.
    So in theory - yes this could literally be a 3rd and seperate timeline running on its own. But if thats the case, old joe would not disappear as that would not make sense

    ALSO Seths with no legs would never be able to escape as he had no legs.

    This is therefore is based upon a single timeline being travelled upon it, in which case Joes sacrifice should lead to another version of events. (kind of like a rewritable DVD recording over itself.

    Next gripe. Why do we think the original Rainmaker was bad? The cities were in a right mess and the loopers allowed the corruption at police and state level, by facilitate killings. Maybe this is Good Cid trying to take revenge for Joe's death and protecting the past by closing the loops. Why would he close the loops? We only know he is tyrannous because its how Loopers, illegal assassins, , perceive him.

    So a good film but with loose ends - still better than most time travel movies.

    • Norman

      Okay, so if we're talking about a single timeline, which I think we are for reasons Paul points out, how does sending someone back in time to kill them accomplish anything? It won't prevent them from being born, or growing older and 're-appearing' in the time that they were sent back from.

    • Narmitaj

      I don't think Young Joe dies when he falls off the roof (well, actually fire escape); we see him fall off again from Old Joe's POV and Old Joe rescues him. That's just two views of what happened when Young Joe let Old Joe run.

      If history had repeated due to a paradox if Young Joe died then (cos Old Joe was in the world) then the same thing would happen/have happened (tenses are a bit odd with this) when Joe kills himself at the end of the movie. There's the same paradox; although Old Joe floops out of existence, the things he has done in the meantime (killing all the young versions of his old colleagues, driving out with the van load of silver) still stand. Time doesn't then reset itself again, we assume (otherwise the various choices are all rendered irrelevant in the long term).

  • Paul

    The way the movie deals with cause and effect is an interesting premise. Old memories can only be slowly overwritten, as the older self is now experiencing these changes in the past... in the here and now. They do the same thing with the arm cuts. As they are completed, they slowly show on the older self. As young Joe kills himself, only then does it go forward to effect his older self in the here and now.

  • dschian

    I really think that over-analyzing the movie is only sensible if you want to close the loop of the movie itself, i.e., if you remove the premise of having loopers by using the "send the victims to a furnace" or "hunt them down in the past" scenarios, then you remove the ability to have a film about paradoxes that force characters to DIRECTLY face their (older) karmic outcomes, which is more interesting (and hence the sci fi genre) than simply having them, say, "meeting the real father or father-figure who was just like them at their age, and avoiding their mistakes" trope.

    In any case, as someone else pointed out, it's always possible that some alterations in timelines have already removed the earlier "beam them to a furnace or outer space or volcano" scenario," and/or it occurs to me that perhaps time travel would in some way be bound up with the properties of gravity in such a way that sending people in time would send them back in a time-space spiral that keep them on earth's trajectory, and not possibly back to where the earth had been in interstellar space (not relative position in the solar system) 30 years prior- though that does raise the issue of how people could be beamed back to different spaces on the planet, unless time AND space constraints have existed, i.e., that it's exactly 30 years back and that all the victims sent to Joe's killing zone were dispatched from that same factory location in China (I'm assuming he was taken locally).

    Re. the killing of Joe's wife- it could have been an accident, and the guns were carried merely to scare off people who could have otherwise intervened, who would obviously be scared off in murders were still taking place in 2074 (it was never said that murders were no longer committed in that year, just that to avoid detection more extreme measures [time travel] would have to be taken). So in that timeline, one of the goons screwed up big-time, and then a sloppy and presumably futile attempt is made to reduce the evidence.

    Speaking of evidence- I don't recall that it was ever specified that Sara knew exactly WHAT loopers did, just that they existed- and (by implication) were ne'er-do-wells.

    Re. all of the young Joe-old Joe paradoxes, others here have suggested alternate timelines. Perhaps one explanation to that implication is that random events build up in timelines and if some kind of repetitive causality exists, gradually shifts them- such that Joe-gets-married and/or wife gets-killed is a new occurrence for the film's old Joe from His timeline- and leads to a will to survive that changes the film's predominant young Joe's timeline (old Joe escapes) and leaves the two manifestations of Joe linked once they meet, in a loop between them, that remains in THOSE moments of time/space they co-inhabit as a new timeline begins, which appears to probably alter Cid's future. On a psychological level certainly the major theme of the film seemed to be that stepping outside one's own (or at least inertial) concerns breaks one free of self- and/or other-destructive repetition. It's important to note that in the end of the final timeline in the film, Sara lives, Cid grows up better, and even the wife is presumably alive, albeit not married to Joe. Even Joe's personal development has been hastened, albeit at the ultimate cost to him.

    I haven't covered every conjecture I've had about this film, but this rambling has to end somewhere. Just food for thought, I hope.

  • Paul

    if you remove the premise of having loopers by using the "send the victims to a furnace" or "hunt them down in the past" scenarios, then you remove the ability to have a film about paradoxes that force characters to DIRECTLY face their (older) karmic outcomes"

    I say, why not make the writers write smarter than they did? The fact that you could send the people directly back into a blast furnace (based on evidence of foreknowledge of time/location in the past) is what makes the movie fall apart. Fantastic performances save a weak foundation of a story.

  • dschian

    Maybe I'm misunderstanding you, but if the writers simply need to write smarter, then help them out by sketching out a compelling paradoxical parable about a heedless individual who's lived a privileged life based upon an expedient and morally reprehensible job with a terrible cost coming literally face-to-face with the consequences of it (that would be time travel) plus the psychological conflict of having to kill yourself to save yourself (also necessitating time travel), but without having the kind of job that you have or the contractual obligation, because after all, the bodies are simply sent to furnaces.

    Be my guest. My guess is that there will not be any film left (or not one that's as emotionally compelling), because the psychological premises and conflicts in the film (in our timeline) are all augmented by the fact that he was supposed to kill a victim from the future who was himself, but was prevented from doing so due to the effects of his future development in a somehow altered timeline, but then strove to do so to save his immature young ass, but then as his values evolved, was willing to sacrifice himself not to save himself, but to save others.

    I think that all of this particular, peculiar kind of twisted narrative tension really requires the individual in the story to be killing individuals from the future until the day his own self from the future shows up. I'd also add that the victims being hooded (until old Joe shows up) also, aside from shifting and continuing to advance the plot (shock perverts the standard timeline outcome of young Joe killing old Joe- also foreshadows a kind of shock that occurs as young Joe comes to see himself from another perspective, from seeing his effect on a child like himself. It's not just that old Joe appears un-hooded, but in a sense that his ability to affect the world in a different way gets un-hooded for young Joe as well.

    • Paul

      They created what I think is a blatant plot hole that makes the whole Loopers concept fall apart. We're here to comment on the writers, not do their jobs for them. Perhaps if they vetted their stories with some key outsiders, they could craft a stronger foundation. Hopefully there are some insiders who read this feedback.

      This logic is inescapable -

      1. Young Joe arrives at a precise time and location for people to appear, just as his partner in crime is able to have people appear in a specified location and at a specified time for killing.

      2. Based on the knowledge above, it's logical to assume that a live person can be pinpoint dumped somewhere knowable and at a specified time.

      3. If a person can be dumped anywhere and any time, then the need to have Loopers do the killing, rather than dumping the people into some automated killing machine, is negated. Plot falls apart.

      Had there of been some variable to it all, such as time travellers appearing within a general timeframe, and a general area, then the need for Loopers would have made perfect sense. You'd need to set up a perimeter for their arrival and hunt them down quickly the second anything in the perimeter tripped. But now I'm doing the writer's jobs for them.

      • Narmitaj

        I think the time machine can pinpoint where someone can be sent to - we see at least two different locations (Seth's slum and Joe's field) - but it seems to be constrained as to when, ie it is 30 years in the past exactly. The people in the future can only change the "when" someone arrives by changing the time they send someone off - that's how the Old Joe who resists and has a fight and goes in the time machine unhooded arrives a few seconds later than expected. Otherwise the future mob could send several victims to the same spot at the same time in 2044 from different times in the future, which would be more efficient.

        The story-telling point of this is, I guess, to allow things to happen in 2074 along a timeline that runs in lockstep with 2044, so people in 2044 get to hear about things happening in the future, ie that the someone called The Rainmaker has arrived and started closing all the loops.

  • Cat

    I loved the film, but did think there were a few problems with the time travel.
    Not being too up on time travel I was under the vague impression that there was either:
    A) Only the one timeline/reality where anything the young Joe did would affect the old one; therefore if he deleted himself from existence in 2044, he would not exist in 2074 and could therefore not have come back to cause all the problems (which fries my brain a little trying to work it out..)
    B) Multiple alternative realities which, in my head, means that the old Joe who travelled back is from reality X and the younger Joe is from reality Y. So anything the younger Joe does should affect a future version of him from reality Y and have no effect on the reality X version of him (so the Bruce Willis version we are following would not see the scars or get the memories etc).

    There’s probably someone a lot smarter who can explain this confusion to me (maybe they start off as alternative realities and then the strongest option stays fixed in time and the others kind of fade away or something??) Or maybe not, as it’s all just theories (unless there’s anyone out there with a time machine who can elucidate?)

    Regarding the thought of Joe being Cid – they were both abandoned by their mothers, but Joe said his mum basically sold him to buy drugs when he was a lot younger than Cid, and Joe ran away and started committing crimes until Abe found him; which is quite different to Cid’s childhood of being brought up on the barn (by the Aunt which was described as being enjoyable until she died, and then by his real mum).

    Also, I don’t think Cid hated Sara; yes he got angry with her, but he said sorry afterwards and they did seem to share a bond even though it was strained at times. Even though he had said to Joe that she wasn't his mother, he also said that he wouldn't let anyone hurt her.

    When she was cleaning up Joe’s wounds (the one on his left shoulder was a gash, not a gun wound, so I think it wasn't the same wound which caused the scar we saw on older Joe), Sara mentioned something about uncleaned cuts getting infected and things dropping off.
    A seemingly random comment at the time, perhaps, but I think this meant a lot more at the end when you see Cid get shot. The bullet kind of grazed him – there was a large slit on his jaw, which looked pretty bad, but was not a gaping bullet hole or something that would need amputation/replacement jaw.
    I reckon that if Sara had died, his wound would have got infected and caused him to get the prosthetic jaw. Because she was still there to clean it up, it healed properly.

    She said to Joe (just after Cid blew up the guy in the front room) that if she was there to care for him, Cid could do good with his powers. So that leads me to believe that we are meant to assume Sara's still being alive leads to good things in the future?? But who knows!!

    I do think there is a link between Abe & Kid Blue, but I'm not sure if they are the same person… surely someone would notice if Abe had a mangled foot?? (although the hammer comment about his hand healing is genius if it was actually him)
    I wondered if he was a relation, as there was a throwaway comment about Abe’s father & grandfather at some point early in the film, and none of the dialogue seems to have been pointless throughout the story…

    Anyway – I'm looking forward to watching it again!

  • David

    Ignoring all the time travel fluff: Why doesn't the mob just send people back 1,000,000 years, or into outer space (they sent older Joe from China to the US, so it seems they can send people distances in space as well as time).

    It would reduce overhead, increase productivity, and expand profit margins. The movie is more about a problem of logistics and management than time travel, if you ask me.

    • Paul Grant

      David... Already mentioned previously, but good to see the same conclusions drawn. Why pay silver to unneeded hitmen?

      And why send people anywhere at all for death? Just dematerialize them, which any machine that would beam someone from one place to another, could do.

      A far more enterprising and ruthless story is to send victims back in time to fight in Gladiatorial matches. Mobsters could then turn a profit sending elites back in time to see their victims duke it out to the death. As long as you install a machine in the past, of course.

      This whole film is a beautiful 2 story luxury home that's been built on quicksand.

      • David

        HAH! Yes, gladiators... Now THAT is an entrepreneurial idea! Build up an investment fund to pay for future mob activity.

        See, I think they lack someone with an MBA or degree in accounting. "Sir, uh, Mr. Rainman sir... These numbers just aren't adding up. Our profit margins are already thin, and uh... we aren't going to be able to make quarterly budgets in Q3 this year if we keep sending people back in time to be killed."
        *gets his ass looped*

    • Cat

      Personally it seemed to me that they were very limited with the time travel that they could manage...

      They always sent the bodies to the same places - Joe never got told where to go to shoot people, as it was always the same place each time - he just got a piece of paper with a time on it. So, we can probably assume from the montage of Joe constantly going to the same place, and then Seth seen shooting people in the old building type area a couple of times (or rather not shooting them when it was himself), that other loopers always went to their own destination each time they got told the time or arrival...

      Maybe there were a handful of machines (just because we only saw the one that old Joe went in to, doesn't mean that was the only one) and perhaps each machine only linked to 1 fixed position; so the victims put into that particular machine could only be sent to the looper who was in charge of that area?

      If they had control of the place the victims ended up, then it would make more sense for them to transport the body straight to the empty warehouse (where Joe was chucking them in the furnace) rather than out in the open in that field where a random passer-by could see... or as has been suggested a couple of times, send all the victims into a volcano or the bottom of the ocean all at the same time.
      Why increase the risk of discovery by always sending to the same place, unless you can't set the machine to transport elsewhere?

      There weren't any machines at the other end, the people just appeared in thin air, leading me to think that maybe they were just harnessing a wormhole or something that was already existing (excuse me if wormhole is a stupid idea.. Like I mentioned in my previous post, I'm not particularly well read about time travel, I'm just enjoying the discussion!).

      Also, the people were always sent back exactly 30 years in the past - leading me to believe that there was no option about that either.

      I think because it isn't actually explained in any detail throughout the film, you can take what you want from it, but I don't think it is a plot problem - I honestly think that there were meant to be limitations on what they could do with the machine.

      Plus, I don't really see a film about 1,000,000 people being sent into outer space all at the same time doing very well ;)

      • Cat

        "Plus, I don't really see a film about 1,000,000 people being sent into outer space all at the same time doing very well ;)"

        *although you never know - sending a couple of dozen people to a seemingly deserted island seemed to work well for a few series!!

  • bennyb

    I loved this movie. The time travel logic didn't get in the way of my initial watch which is very important. The next time I watch it I can spend more time on analysing the logic. For me, I thought the point of the movie is not the time travel aspect, or the creation/prevention of The Rainmaker. The point of the movie is based around the concept that do we really change as people as we get older, or do we percieve that we change but really we are not that different. The crucial scene for me was the diner scene with the 2 Joes first conversation. Old Joe clearly has contempt for Young Joe, calling him selfish and using 'boy' a lot. To this point, we've seen more of young Joe just looking after himself and we might agree with Old Joe, who at this point we assume is the good guy with his eyes open and his moral compass adjusted to the right path. In this scene Old Joe states that he has changed perspective from his younger self and isn't being selfish. He's now looking out for his wife. Young Joe points out that if he sees her photo he'll deliberately avoid this woman thus saving her but Old Joe is having none of it. As the movie progresses we see that Old Joe has not changed. His wife surviving without ever meeting him is not important. He wants his idyllic life back and he's willing to kill children to get it back. This is where we see that Old Joe has learned nothing with his extra 30 years and if anything has become more desperate. It is at the end when young Joe kills himself where we see that young Joe has learned the lesson and progressed to a higher moral plane. We see it just before this too where he refuses old Joe's offer of walking away with everything and no loose ends, his initial selfish goal. So the point of this movie is that Joe does learn how not to be selfish by making the ultimate sacrifice. Main character arch complete. Everything else leaves interesting talking points around the water cooler. Does Cid turn into the Rainmaker? Not important to the plot of the movie, that's open to your interpretation and how you choose to logically put the time travel logic together. Sure there are gaps in the logic here and there, but the gaps are not used as a deus ex machina to cheat the viewer and to get themselves out of a dead end. For example, the issue of not wanting to kill the younger self to exterminate the older self. Sure the logic is broke, but rather than destroying the ending, this gap gives us a cool scene with 'The doctor'. Otherwise they would have just killed the younger self. But maybe it isn't the point that you CAN'T do it. Maybe the mob prefers to do it the hacking way as it sure makes an example for anyone considering letting their future self escape to think twice!

  • Brandon

    The biggest hole that you guys haven't addressed is...

    If Young Joe witnessing Old Joe killing Cid's mom is an infinite loop, then Old Joe would have known that Cid was the Rainmaker all along. Therefore, why would Old Joe need to search three different locations(and kill two other kids) if he already knew that Cid was the actual Rainmaker.

    Since Old Joe when he was Young Joe already witnessed and lived this reality, he would have immediately went to Sara and Cid's house without going to the library to search for them. This however opens up a bigger problem....

    Since Old Joe already witnessed a previous Old Joe killing Sara, and this did not change the timeline of the Rainmaker, why would Old Joe do the exact same thing that he witnessed a previous Old Joe do?

    • Matt

      Young Joe does not see Old Joe shoot kid in the mouth.

  • Matt

    Their are only two timelines shown and are only two timelines, so don't confuse yourselves. These two timelines meet and towards the end of the movie the timeline/loop is closed differently to how it previously was. Previous timeline Old Joe kills Kids mom and either Kid or Young Joe kill old Joe in the field right after and kid escapes and becomes the rainmaker. New timeline Young Joe realizes this has all happened before in the past involving Old Joe and the only way to possibly prevent the kid turning into the rainmaker is to kill himself thus killing his future self/Old Joe. At this point Joe is dead from present to future and we are left to assume whether or not the kid becomes the evil crazy rainmaker or not.

    So in the two timelines Old Joe is killed by Kid and Young Joe. If the timeline we saw were to end with Young Joe not killing Old Joe the flash forward would still be applicable however instead of showing how Young Joe got to year 1 then so on they showed you past the next couple of days so that you could sit and watch them within the rest of the movie.

    • Matt

      Slight mistake, just watched the end again. When Joe realizes what happens just before he shoots himself, we don't see anyone killing old Joe. I would assume that original timeline, Old Joe lives and so does Young Joe but they go their separate ways.

    • Brandon

      Ah...I get it now, I think, but there are THREE timelines shown. As the movie exists, this is the second time Joe has come back in time(he was killed once, and but then allowed to escape the second time).

      We assume that in the alternate reality where he kills his future self, grows up, moves to China, and gets his woman, all the previous Old Joes did nothing to change the past. Since they had no reason to change the past, then this is the first time Joe escapes and searches for the Rainmaker, thus explaining why he didn't know the kid's identity.

      So what you are saying is this is the first time Old Joe has tried to change the past, and all other previous Joes never tried to accomplish this?

      • Brandon

        My point is if ANY Joe from an immediate previous timeline came back in time, and discovered the identity of the Rainmaker, then the Young Joe that discovered Cid was the Rainmaker/witnessed Old Joe killing Rainmaker's mom, would have known the identity when coming back in time later in his life. Therefore, he would not have had to search for 3 different locations and kill two other children before realizing it was Cid.

        Unless the Young Joe realized that killing Cid's mom was a mistake, and accepted his fate by just letting the next Young Joe kill him.

        • Matt

          All young Joe knows is that a unknown person called the rainmaker with a prosthetic jaw is closing all the loops because Old Joe tells him. At the end Young Joe does not see Kid shot in mouth so previous timeline Joe would not have known it was Kid. He finds out in flash forward from other timeline . (OLD Joe) before he is sent back...that he has a prosthetic jaw and his birth numbers. Old Joe in old timeline would have gone after kid, not found him and Young Joe would never have heard a peep from Old Joe again somehow. Young Joe can contact old Joe in previous timeline by cutting himself but Old Joe can not contact Young Joe like this. Let us assume that Young Joe hates Old Joe for killing the woman and does not want to contact/confront him. Probably also tries to find kid but kids is gone be leaving on train. This sets in motion young Joe in previous timeline to finally leave the country.
          He most likely does this because everyone else has been killed by Old Joe.

          As for closing a loop in the past they make it pretty clear that they can not kill someone in the future due to tagging. Assume that a signal of some kind indicates the time of death and probably location. However their is no longer a way to receive signal if sent back in time to before tagging is used.

          Guy in charge is sent back in time to run things, this is how he knows Joe does not go to France and Goes to Asia. Guy in charge has been sent back because of original timeline. (They want to figure out who is closing all the loops/the rainmaker so send him back with the knowledge of the rainmaker to see if he can prevent Him. However he can't simply go around killing people or making half hear-ted assumptions because that is a very naive stratergy. Instead what they know in the future where he and old Joe are from is that something happened around that time and may have a connection to the rainmaker. But you don't send guy in charge from future back to the time of the event because he and they have no idea where it all occurs. So you send him back years before the event to take charge. Guy in charge is aware that Old Joe was one of if not the only survivor of the incident therefor recruits him off the street personally at a young age.

  • Matt

    All young Joe knows is that a unknown person called the rainmaker with a prosthetic jaw is closing all the loops because Old Joe tells him. At the end Young Joe does not see Kid shot in mouth so previous timeline Joe would not have known it was Kid. He finds out in flash forward from other timeline . (OLD Joe) before he is sent back...that he has a prosthetic jaw and his birth numbers. Old Joe in old timeline would have gone after kid, not found him and Young Joe would never have heard a peep from Old Joe again somehow. Young Joe can contact old Joe in previous timeline by cutting himself but Old Joe can not contact Young Joe like this. Let us assume that Young Joe hates Old Joe for killing the woman and does not want to contact/confront him. Probably also tries to find kid but kids is gone be leaving on train. This sets in motion young Joe in previous timeline to finally leave the country.
    He most likely does this because everyone else has been killed by Old Joe.

    As for closing a loop in the past they make it pretty clear that they can not kill someone in the future due to tagging. Assume that a signal of some kind indicates the time of death and probably location. However their is no longer a way to receive signal if sent back in time to before tagging is used.

    Guy in charge is sent back in time to run things, this is how he knows Joe does not go to France and Goes to Asia. Guy in charge has been sent back because of original timeline. (They want to figure out who is closing all the loops/the rainmaker so send him back with the knowledge of the rainmaker to see if he can prevent Him. However he can't simply go around killing people or making half hear-ted assumptions because that is a very naive stratergy. Instead what they know in the future where he and old Joe are from is that something happened around that time and may have a connection to the rainmaker. But you don't send guy in charge from future back to the time of the event because he and they have no idea where it all occurs. So you send him back years before the event to take charge. Guy in charge is aware that Old Joe was one of if not the only survivor of the incident therefor recruits him off the street personally at a young age.

  • Paul

    This film gives no plausible excuse for letting any of it's Looper brotherhood actually live to a ripe age before recapture and execution. A more ruthless and much more mob-like practice, within the scope of this film, would be to let the Looper think they killed their future selves. Then, after they leave the brotherhood, are offed that evening discreetly. The mob then takes all of their accumulated silver back into their possession and no one in the Looper brotherhood is the wiser.

    • Matt

      Come on, you know that wouldn't work. You are suggesting they all just go off into the sunset? It would be obvious that they have been murdered by the brotherhood if no-one ever hears from them again. It is as though you have never seen a mob, crime or prison movie or TV program.

      They can't rely on the word of the Looper alone which is why they close the loop by killing themselves. The scenario they offer the Looper is perfect...almost. Their is no better system. Before you become a Looper everything is explained. You will kill people at this location, with this weapon at these times. The target will always be sent back in the same manor as everyone else. With their face covered so you do not hesitate. You will then be paid in silver. However as this is serious organised crime we can not allow a single individual to become a grass or rouge or to not kill thier target as the consequences of someone sent back in time are so apparent that it is incredibly illegal to do so. That is why when your services are no longer required your future self is sent back with a very large amount of gold. Of course you will discover this after killing yourself. We allow you to enjoy your remaining years. No one lives forever, so why not enjoy your life?

      However if you do not kill your future self as required we will kill you in the present day meaning your life ends NOW. You put your life in your own hands once you agree to become a Looper. Their is no walking away, you walk away after a few kills we will kill you. You have agreed to become a contract killer.

      It is the perfect scenario to ensure their are no rogue Loopers. But we witness the events of when and how it all falls apart. This is what the movie plot is about. How such a genius system is ended.

    • Matt

      Also the people in the future decide who is sent back to be killed, not the people in the present. What would be the point in letting the Looper think they killed themselves when it is just as simple to allow them to kill themselves?

      • Paul

        "...You are suggesting they all just go off into the sunset? It would be obvious that they have been murdered by the brotherhood if no-one ever hears from them again. It is as though you have never seen a mob, crime or prison movie or TV program."


        - I find it far more plausible that ex-Loopers wouldn't stay in communication with each other, for fear that that might promote them being tracked down in the future and killed via time-travel.

        - This brotherhood of Loopers isn't the warmest when push comes to shove. Joe gives up his best friend to keep his silver. Deep down, all these guys are willing to rat each another out/ stay low if need-be.

        - Joe is unable to fool his boss that he's going to France for retirement. The mob easily tracks him down in the East for time travel transport later on.

        - It's safe to assume that each silver bar is stamped and tracked via serial, just as gold bars are today. This is not a long stretch, as you can clearly see a morris code-like imprint on each silver bar. As soon as Joe started cashing them in within the East, his past employer could track him.

        • Matt

          Clearly he gave up his best friend because no matter what they would find him with the silver, at which point they would also probably kill Joe.

  • Ambar servadac

    The plot holes ruined the movie for me.
    If young Joe kill himself, none of the events on the movie really happend, because young Joe would not have gone to the farm and he meet Kate and sid.

  • Divided_wp

    I thought it was a good film, thoroughly enjoyed it. However, one of the most annoying plot holes was when Joe's friend (old version) lost limbs on his way to meet his death. Surely, due to causality, and y'know, lack of limbs, he wouldn't of ended up in the same place. Surely the missing limbs, nose, fingers, would have more of an impact, altering his entire life? Nice idea, but doesn't make any sense :-(

    • Paul

      When the future self travels back in time, he experiences the updates to his body in real time... In the here and now. He may be a product of the future, but he's also linked to this now changing past.

  • Jim

    re: relationship between Kid Blue and Bad Jeff Daniels

    We see enough about how time travel works in this flick to conclude that when Jeff Daniels take a whack at Kid Blue's hand he (Daniels) should have instantly acquired a lame hand. We're not shown that Daniels either had a bad hand or acquired one.

    We can also assume that Daniels knows about about how time travel works to protect Kid Blue from harm so as to protect himself.

  • Jim

    Overall -- I liked this film and had fun imaging the writer(s) wrestling with the various problems of Time Travel.

    Those who enjoy the malleable time gambit will enjoy the novel "The Man Who Folded Himself". Different themes, but similar technical problems.

  • steve

    The main plot hole to me is why do are the loopers always sent back in time to their young selves to be killed? Why don't they send you to a different looper who would be less likely to recognize or care who you are and be far less likely to hesitate to pull the trigger.

    • cleve

      then there would be less incentive to ever become a looper because there is no gold bar payoff

      • Paul

        t's silver bars. And who says you're not still getting paid if you blast someone else?

        • TobyMcGuiresSister

          a)I have a job for you - killing strangers
          b)No way
          a)I'll pay you lots
          b)No way
          a) I'll let you kill your future self and pay you for that as well
          b) I'M IN!

  • cleve

    All old Joe had to do was write a note or something explaining to Young Joe the date and time the mob would be coming to take him and let young joe close the loop and say ps your gonna meet a wonderful women who gets killed by accident don't be around her at this time so she doesn't accidently get shot... now go ahead and kill me so everything can happen like its suppose to all execpt the innocent lady getting killed. This way the young rainmaker never sees his mama shot because young joe kills old joe. so you fix that timeline and the mob that employees young joe can continue without the vengence of the rainmaker!!! ( Until the Prequel comes out... BIRTH OF THE RAINMAKER or somehting) and young joe closes his loop no problem in the present with the mob and now he can blow his money and get hooked on drugs get detoxed by the Chinese lady marry her and make sure she doesn't get hit by a stray mob bullet!!!
    Now that might Mess up the future after old joe gets sent back. because that Chinese lady was suppose to die... but that's another movie!!!

    BTW did anyone notice that Jeff bridges kept telling young joe to go to China!!! even though he wanted to learn french!!!???? I thought that was cool fore-shadowing .. makes you wonder what Jeff Bridges Character knew already about Joes fate since he was from the future!!!! Now that i think about it Bridges should know every move to be made by young and old loopers because he has already seen it right?? Oh no what have i done now.. now im going to spend all day thinking that through smh... Good movie though

    • Mike

      That's Jeff Daniel's, not bridges. :)

  • thi

    How the older joe get killed by the younger joe in the usual killing place... Because earlier scene older joe (Bruce wills) managed to eacape from the same scene.... Reply here....

  • Ishmaril

    Old subject now, but i wish to comment.

    I have huge problem with this movie. The very first one being that anything happening to the young one happen to the old one at the same moment. That only seemed silly to me. If you cut his leg, he would supposedly have to live his whole life without the leg, and he would NOT be able to be there (the old one). Anyway ...

    For the rainmaker, some are saying that in the old joe timeline, something else than joe made him become the rainmaker, maybe a mistake on his part made him killed his mother. BUT, the guy started then a vendetta AGAINST all the loopers, killing them ALL. Why ? Because it is hinted that his mother WAS killed by a looper. Joe.

    But we know that it can't be joe, nothing happened in this timeline.

    Another thing, IF the rainmaker knows that a looper killed his mother, why the hell is he then sending them back in the past, knowing that one of them is going to go rogue ??? If he had leave them alone in the future, the next timeline would not had any looper coming back, therefore NOT killing his mother ...

    Very messy plot line, and yeah, i also wondered why they did not put two bullets in each old looper leg before sending them back. Stupid.

  • Jade Warrior

    Not quite old yet! There'll be more discussion when the DVD comes out, for sure.

    Looper reminds me of two movies: Frequency (Dennis Quaid) and Sliding Doors (Gwyneth Paltrow). In Frequency any change in a "simultaneous" past produced a new history and a new memory in the present - just like the scars that appear suddenly in Looper. In Sliding Doors a person will be in the same place at the same time in a parallel world but in a different circumstance, and end up with the person he/she is destined to be with (also explored in The One (Jet Li).

    Cid will become the Rainmaker, with or without Old Joe in his past. What Young Joe did was preserve the life of a positive influence on Cid, a loving and caring person in Sara. It doesn't matter that Cid does become good, because our hero Joe no longer exists.

  • LightlySalted

    I would like to point out a 3rd timeline. Sorry if this wouldn't be possible. My brain is mushy from all this thinking.

    Timeline A: This involves the old Joe from that is killed immediately after sent back in timeline B. Until Timeline B happens, these timelines would be an actual loop, as the every older Joe will die to their younger self. Hundreds of timelines could happen before Timeline B occurs. But what about the Rainmaker? He still exists because self terminating loopers are happening. He is still "evil" even though an older Joe does not exist to kill off Rainmakers' mother. So in theory, a different variable besides older joe killing off RM's mother should exist.

    Timeline B: Old Joe is killed by young Joe. Young Joe lives out to be the Old Joe in Timeline C. At this timeline, the loop starts to change, because something different happens (whether it be the asian wife), that causes him to be able to survive when HE gets sent back. Remember, all older selves are killed off before this point.

    Timeline C (main timeline): Old joe escapes (the whole movie) and the loop gets broken at the ending.

    • Chocolate

      Closing the loop is not a new thing. People were shooting themselves long before the rainmaker was even born. When you become a looper you already know that you will eventually kill yourself. The Rainmaker was hunting people down and brutally killing them. A looper may have had a chance before the Rainmaker. The only way for that not to be true is if the Rainmaker sent Abe back in time to hire a bunch of stupid kids to kill themselves.

  • LOZ

    Is it just me or is this more complicated than the Legend of Zelda Timeline(s)??

  • Chocolate

    Ok, I wanted to know what everyone was talking about so I watched the movie. This complicated problem would have a simple solution if young Joe had killed old Joe then Abe told him to go to china, thereby using knowledge of the future to change the past. This would explain maybe how the rainmaker was created in a different timeline but not come close to explaining why Old Joe disappeared but the truck of money was still there or how Cid was still shot even though old Joe never existed. New question can Cid see into the future, how does he know which man is the man who will kill his mum? (The scene where they're underground and Cid says "That's not him" or did I misread that scene.)

  • Paul

    Bloopers... er... I mean Loopers, is well executed and acted within the parameters that the film provides. My contention though has always been that the movie's foundation is weak.

    - it's already been stated that one can know the time and location of a drop, so people should just be dropped into a blast furnace without noisily being shot in a field or back alley first. Or, simply force each victim to occupy the same time and space equally, generating a massive meatball of death that best resembles a Brundlefly - Jabba the Hut lovechild.

    - even if murders are tracked in the future, you'd think the mob would have found an easier solution. Have a "class reunion" of mobsters in the future and retire them in an "unfortunate fire". Better yet, do it a short while after they all have cashed out and steal their silver back. Seeing as the future can constantly change, it creates a minor paradox over them having killed their future selfs already.

    - making someone "retire" their future self is stupid. Look at the trouble it causes right away in the film. If you want to loop everyone out, mix who gets who's future self and NEVER discuss the program with the grunts.

    - stop strapping precious metal to the victims and sending them back in time. You're just devaluing an even more expensive commodity from the future. Let the older world make the payouts by way of lock boxes. Easier and more discreet to bring a key back from around someone's neck then 30+ pnds of silver.

    - It's a heck of a lot easier to send one man back in time to act as the Rainnaker's child protector than it is to cash out every one of your hit men.

    - seeing as most of these loopers are cashing out within the same year or two, dozens of these same hit men will start disappearing in the same time span 30 years from now. Someone will figure out that pattern.

    - there's more, but I'll leave it at that for now.

    • Cat

      Hey Paul.
      Each looper always goes to the same place, so they probably can't change the destination.
      The time the victim turns up is always exactly 30 years ago.

      You can only fit 1 person at a time in each time machine.
      As the victim always goes to the same place, exactly 30 years in the past, it would be pretty tricky for the looper to kill and dispose of more than one person at a time with even more complication that already arose.

      Having 30 people die in a 'looper' reunion is a wicked idea, if you could do it without being traced, if they could do that, there would be no point to the film!

      Awesome point about sending a key instead of money, but I'm guessing the money wasn't easily available in the past.

      Maybe the protector for the rainmaker made a hash of protecting him. The future gangsters aren't exactly going to be role models...
      Anyway, the reason for killing all the loopers was made by an unreasonable man with too much power and no role model - not the best guy to be making decisions!

      The reasons people were getting so suspicious of the rainmaker was because so many loopers were being terminated at the same time.

      • richardblade

        You guys are all missing the point of the movie, they swept it right under your nose. .this is a mob money laundering racket. . there is X amount of gold and silver available on the planet. They know how much to the last gram, unless they are mining in the asteroid belts or making it with alchemy, you cant get any richer in the future. but wait. they are sending silver bars and gold bullion to the past, Where does all that wealth end up. Hello. . . .

  • Paul

    One last point. We get a small taste of the Rainmaker's abilities as a child. It's easy to assume he's completely untouchable in the future. So why is his organization wasting time trying to elaborately and expensively cover up future murders? With his power and people, he could infiltrate and overthrow any power structure.

  • Paul

    Hi Cat,

    Thanks for the response but you're I. Error on one fact. They always know the time and place someone will appear, and they can even direct the appearance to different locations. Consider Joe and his watch. Or other loopers killing in different locations. With such timing and locational accuracy, it would be easy to make one large meatball sub out of your enemies by sending them all to the same point in space-time.

  • Paul

    ..and let's assume you're correct on the 30 years to the second on arrival. In order to make your big meatball, you send each one through within seconds of each other. No one says they can't have holding pins to send them all back simultaneously through one portal. Worried about the first one moving out of place? Dig the equivalent of a shallow well. As each materialized they instantly fall in on top of each other. After a few minutes Jeff Daniels walks over and starts shovelling dirt back in the hole. No need for loopers or additional cost.

  • Andrew

    1st: Great effing movie. 5 stars in my book and the best one I've seen in a while.

    2nd: While we're on the topic of plot holes, why has no one commented on the fact that the ENTIRE movie hinges around the fact that the mafia can't kill people in the future and get away with it, per Rian Johnson's quote "Everybody in the movie has this nano technology tracking in their body and whenever there's a death, a location tag is sent to the authorities from this tracking material"

    AND YET in the scene in the future where the Mafia goes to kidnap Old Joe, they straight up shoot and kill his wife and we assume they get away with it.

    Anyone see how this doesn't make sense? If you can't kill people in the future and get away with it - thus creating the need for loopers in the first place - then why would you kill a "random" (to the mafia) woman when you go to all the trouble to carefully dispose of everyone else, thus negating the whole point of protecting your ass by killing people via loopers?

  • jglyum

    I'm watching this movie again on dvd and I didn't see the chionese wife die on the dvd version. Did we see her get shot when we 1st see old joe when they take him away? I'm frustrated cuz I want what I saw in the theater.

  • Mradev

    Great movie, I definitely recommend it. The thing that I'm not able to follow is how "Young Joe" and "Cid" are able to exist in the same timeline without "Young Joe" having traveled back in time himself.

  • catD

    Annoying as hell.

    There are plot points I am willing to put up with - yes, the whole concept of loopers as the way for a future mafia to dispose of bodies, including their own, is stupid. Maybe the title of the movie made this seem okay, though it was disappointing that there wasn't a damn thing about the loopers that was sci-fi. (Not a movie problem - just sayin'.)

    What bothered me THE MOST about this movie originated in the voiceovers. 30 year contract. He says it. So why the hell is he living with his wife when his contract is near to coming up, since the whole movie then seems to stem from his need for revenge against this act! (Hadn't thought of the stupidity of the wife getting killed as another incredibly dumb internal consistency problem.) And, as someone else pointed out, he's gotten 30 years, he's been taken out as it was promised he would be, he's killed all kinds of people the mob wanted killed who may well have been innocents, and as the audience too sickeningly knows, he condemned his best friend to 30 limbless years to save half of his gold. This is the guy who decides that his wife's death is the Rainmaker's fault and killing two innocent boys along with the Rainmaker (also perhaps innocent) is merited. It doesn't seem to be that we are to think of him as evil, but what else did he expect? Okay, if you could kill Hitler as a boy and two other boys would be sacrificed...but what if you'd made a deal with Hitler that you would die at a specified time if you carried out his dirty work and you'd both carried out your end of the bargain?

    (Also decided later it was a bit annoying that Young Joe said he would come to the farm last. If for some weird reason not explained to us killing the Rainmaker would result in Old Joe returning to his former life (instead of fulfilling his contract), then if the first boy had turned out to be the Rainmaker, Old Joe would have disappeared at that point. Second, he didn't go back to kill his old female friend's son after his first attempt failed, but skipped him and headed straight to the farm. Oh, and sorry, but the idea that the Rainmaker was potentially the son of his old girlfriend...these kinds of coincidences ruin books and movies.)

    But back to the "what bothered me the MOST." The final voiceover with his sudden revelation that they were on a loop - suddenly the world "looper" has gotten too clever for its own good - really tears away the basic time travel premise of this movie. Which is that people can go back in time and CHANGE things. This was established in one of the very first scenes as the best friend was tortured in present time, changing his future self simultaneously. So what the hell is this idea about there being an endless loop with Young Joe, Old Joe and Cid? (Especially as there had to be a "first time" when the Rainmaker appeared since we saw Young Joe shoot his older self successfully once.) It was just a dumbass thing to say. If he hadn't done that voiceover, it would have held together much better. We COULD speculate that somehow Young Joe's time with the family had improved the future. (Or we could wonder if Young Joe just ensured that a future Hitler would rule, since he could have taken out the boy, himself, assuming there was no weapon aiming problem.)

    And because we knew so little of the future, if I'm remembering things right, we never found out whether the Rainmaker was a good guy or a bad guy. Because that city of homeless people with weapons and drugs ruled by crimelords was not a good place. Or is that supposed to be some hidden possibility? That he could use his "powers for good instead of evil"? (Oh, and by the way, the out-of-the-blue telekinesis and the out-of-the-blue time travel which any crime lord can have but can think of no better way to use than to dispose of bodies with? [I mean REALLY? They send a guy back who could be buying up valuable stock, for instance, and instead they're spending tremendous amounts of money on what could have been automated shooters set up at target spots?] Again, sickening amount of coincidences.)

    And like everyone else, the plot lines dangling concerning Abe's son or whatever just come off as a mistake.

    Was also personally disappointed in the lack of science fiction - flying motorcycles wasn't enough for me.

    All this movie had in its favor for me, ultimately, was a time travel plot and Bruce Willis.

    • richardblade

      i'll say it again, this is a mob money laundering racket. . there is X amount of gold and silver available on the planet. They know how much to the last gram, unless they are mining in the asteroid belts or making it with alchemy, you cant get any richer in the future. but wait. they are sending silver bars and gold bullion to the past, Where does all that wealth end up. Hello. . . .the crime lords did have a plan. and probably did buy up stock.


      • TobyMcGuiresSister

        You don't know the future value of metals and why would they be aware of every gram on the planet in the future? You're also saying that they are sending the money back in time so that loopers can spread it into the economy and this somehow helps the future mafia?

  • catD

    Oh, yeah, and one other thing. While I realize they made a messy attempt to explain why Old Joe could still remember his wife and his talking about everything being hazy, but we've already established in this timeline that things are instantaneous. And he even says that once something's happened he remembers it. But gotta say there's no sign at all that Old Joe now remembers his time with Cid and Sara and his "wishing" his wife into continued existence...sorry, just doesn't cut it.

  • catD

    All right, just one more stupid coincidence. Mister party animal/addict/assassin who turns into loving husband for 5 years has a friend who suddenly calls and tells him to remember a string of numbers concerning the Rainmaker before conveniently dying which turn out easy to figure out and very useful for a time traveler bent on revenge.

  • Malice211

    The thing to remember about time travel movies is that there is always a set present and a possible future, but the future is always in flux and can always be changed by actions taken in the set present. In this movie, the possible future was that young Joe completes his loop by killing his older self, get 30 years older becoming old Joe, a bad guy called the Rainmaker comes to power after suffering hardships in his childhood and, to save his future, Old Joe feels he must go back in time to kill the “young” Rainmaker. At this point, the events that created the Rainmaker become irrelevant, and any argument moot, because as soon as Old Joe came back in time and didn’t die instantly at the hands of his younger self in exactly the same way that it happened originally, the future that was his was destroyed or “rewritten” as I prefer to call it. From this point, there may or may not be a Rainmaker in the future and, regardless of any actions taken by Joe, old or young version, the new version of the Rainmaker, or absence thereof, will be entirely different from the original version as remembered by Old Joe.

    People forget that, regardless of the time travel aspect, the flow of time goes from cause to effect. Joe completes his loop, causing him to grow old, The rainmaker comes to power causing Joe to go back in time to kill him. Young Joe Kills himself to save the Rainmaker child causing Old Joe to no longer exist. From this point a new future continues onwards, governed by cause and effect. Maybe the Rainmaker child grows up to be good, maybe he becomes evil. Some other cause and effect will determine his fate.

  • Mike

    A couple of things that bothered me and I may well have missed something that explained them:
    1. Wouldn't most Loopers as their young selves just think of a code word to say when they came back so they wouldn't kill themselves? When the Looper failed to kill his future self, how did the mob even know if young and old new they would work together?
    2. Like others have said, in the end young Joe kills himself so he could never become old Joe which meant there was no old Joe to come back to the future and set the chain of events off to begin with.
    3. When his friend (Seth?) was having his arms and legs chopped off and they disappeared on Old Seth, I would expect that at some point it would have meant old Seth would have had to have gone 30 years without arms and legs and still ended up at the same point to travel back in time. For that to happen there would have to be a time line where young Seth survived 30 years with 1 leg, then another where he survived 30 years with no legs, then another with no arms and legs...(in whatever order)...but somewhere in there I would think there would be a point where if the mob is just chopping off his limbs and not nursing him to health and he would have died sooner than 30 years from blood loss right then or else a completely different life path based on having no arms or legs and old Seth would have just disappeared.
    3a. They captured young Seth and could just kill him and erase old Seth without needed to get him to come to them.
    4. If a Looper killed his older self, wouldn't he just make sure starting 30 years from then he was hidden or just started killing all the mob guys he knew?

  • Paul

    "3. When his friend (Seth?) was having his arms and legs chopped off and they disappeared on Old Seth, I would expect that at some point it would have meant old Seth would have had to have gone 30 years without arms and legs and still ended up at the same point to travel back in time."

    I answered this one here some time ago.

    When the old Loopers travel back into the past, or what we may call the present in terms of the movie, they're subject to new updates that their incursion may have caused, and those updates happen in real time. Imagine old Joe and young Joe standing side by side with no damaged arms. As young Joe starts to cut into his arm, this update shows in real time on old Joe.

  • Paul

    And I think my last post answers this one as well.

    "2. Like others have said, in the end young Joe kills himself so he could never become old Joe which meant there was no old Joe to come back to the future and set the chain of events off to begin with."

  • Alex

    As for me, Looper was a real Pooper.

    The only purpose of introducing TK or telekinesis was to give the kid a reason to blow things up at the end. There was no other purpose.

    The movie is unfortunately flawed with paradoxes. Things that just cannot happen. Instead of assuming that the entire populace is stupid for you assuming that we think time travel actually exists, how about looking to conceptualize the possibility that we know it doesn't exist and focus on the logic of what we have come to understand.

    The affect on someone’s past will ultimately affect their future. Bottom line.

    When they caught Seth (The young looper who hid in Joe's safe) and started cutting his limbs off, his future self would have never been able to drive a car to begin with because he did not have limbs. He should have also remembered his past irrespective of any change.

    Then we come to the whole Bruce Willis / Joseph Gordon Levitt in the diner scene. The same matter cannot occupy the same space. If it does, you would have created a paradox. Either that or the known universe would explode. But of course director Rian Johnson clearly knows more that most physicists do.

    And then we come to the ending. Boy what an ending. He shoots himself for the mere reason of trying to prevent his future self of changing history. But if his younger self dies, there would have been no reason to stop his future self. (Hence another paradox).

    Of course there will be mistakes. Nobody is denying that. But stick to what we know. Heaven knows we do not need another space adventure where people breathe in space. Watching a movie where your logic does not need to constantly correct the director is a relief. This, for me was a migraine.

    • richardblade

      its not the same matter occupying space, one version is thirty years older. you change all your cells in your body as the years go by. Totally different matter were staring across from each other at that diner table. Some of those atoms were from distance stars, and I believe one atom, on the left foot, belonged to Hitler. And that carbon atom, he just breathed out, used to be a left claw of a dinosaur couple millions years ago.

  • Paul

    Some aspects of the story work best from the view of Quantum Reality. A theory that every choice spawns a new and separate thread of time and space. In that theory, old Joe could very well have returned back and died in one reality, and survived to battle his old masters in another. But under this assumption, he'd be traveling back to a thread of time that wasn't quite his own. The problem with this theory is one has to ask themselves just how relational would young Joe be to old Joe if this was true? At what point might old Joe have "diverged" from the version of his younger self he's traveling back in time to? This could also explain the battle to retain one's established identity against the new one trying to impose itself (Asian wife vs new tryst/ path).

    That theory then unravels when the writers introduce links from the present to the past, and a suggestion of communication. That tends to suggest that time and space are fixed on a single path, which makes the whole possibility of multiple outcomes mute. The first link involves the arm carving, which updates in real time and then appears on the older individual. If Quantum Reality was at play, there might only be a 50% chance of the message showing up, or in another Looper's case, getting his limbs chopped off.

    Pretty much the writing for the movie was sloppy and meant for a public who's unafraid to mix several time travel theories into one big pot. To the more intellectual viewers though, it just appears lazy.

  • Alex

    Nicely put, Paul!

  • Paul

    Someone was commenting that this was some sort of money laundering op by sending all that precious metal into the past. I find that baffling considering that trends show metals to be worth more today then they were 10 years ago.

    Paying for loopers in the first place is downright loopy. Drop the body directly into a blast furnace in the past.

  • Alex

    At the end of the day, you will get those who will love this movie irrespective of it's flaws and those who will hate it. The ones who love it will defend it in all its flawed logic and anyway you see it, whether its inter-dimensional or time travel there is a flaw to every aspect. This, to me is a movie that has to be watched like a goofball. Just accept it. Because if you dont, you will find countless flaws with it. Even the fact that its the future yet the last vehicle that was manufactured seems to be a Yaris from 2012.

    Yes, paradoxes, flaws, lack of depth, and frustration. Its all because o half of us really wanted this to be so much more. But at the end of the day, this is no Back to the Future. It's an anarchistic attempt at challenging a movie like 12 Monkeys. Visuals were great and the editing was top notch. Actors were great too but if your story makes little sense, this is ultimately what you are left with...a blog that just goes on and on and on. ;)

  • Skywalker

    >The only answer I can come up with for this is to say, "Because that would be too messy and you'd have to clean the time machine each time."

    Another answer would be "There would be no movie" if you did that.

  • Paul

    I'm going to invent a time machine... invent one so I can travel to a reality where the writers of this movie actually decided to give a sh__ about a solid plot/premis.

  • TobyMcGuiresSister

    I enjoyed the movie enough to get through it (say...C+, but probably mainly because I had just watched Prometheus - the most plotholes of any movie I've ever seen). It did add some originality to the genre which is the most you can realistically hope for with TT. The issues/holes did take away from my enjoyment while watching but you suspend some disbelief since time travel can not exist because matter can not suddenly be added to the universe. (If two people exist simultaneously, where does the extra matter/energy come from at that moment? It has to be matter already existing in the present universe is some form).

    Still, what bothered me while watching:

    *The film quickly established no alternate timelines re: Seth's injuries, but then breaks this rule-universe

    *No reason to make loopers kill themselves. What is gained? Why not hire somebody that they already know will die before 30 years?

    *It's implied that the fall from the fire escape kills YJ. The fall crushed the car which means the impact energy crushed his organs or at least severely laid him up for longer than the events in the rest of the movie. If a new timeline was created then NO Seth.

    *How do they find OJ in China but can't find others so easily? He's had 30 years to stop being tracked.

    *Loopers are a secret. Oops, we take that back.

    *How many loopers are there worldwide? Do they exist in most countries? Does the rainmaker want to close their loops as well? Does he control the whole world? Certainly there are other time machines. Are they in the hands of the French mafia? The Taliban? The Canadian government? Surely there's a country that did not outlaw them like Cayman Islands?

    *For the timelines to work out, Cid has to become the Rainmaker regardless of Joe's existence, so Young Joe stupidly killed himself - especially since he could have just shot off his hand to stump Old Joe. All he succeeded in doing was remove himself from the equation. Ending his frustration at the inconsistencies, perhaps

    *The discovery of TK would have had much larger implications than depicted because it completely changes the laws of physics. Free energy, space travel, etc.

    *if the Rainmaker was closing all the loops, then that means grabbing people before their 30 years is up, which would have alerted the 2044 people AND eliminated loopers from the employee pool before they could hire new ones, which means no more killing for this future mafia. How does closing loops help future Rainmaker?

    *They imply that the rise of the Rainmaker was recent. Did he hide his skills for 30 years? Why?

    *Chinese loverfriend is killed and all they have to do is burn the house down?

    *If killing people in the future is so problematic, why'd they carry guns?

    *Why is the violent, future-shock city plainly visible from the obviously safer countryside? Can they be such polar opposites and be so close?

    *OJ chastises YJ when he meets him but is apparently very hypocritical as he then proceeds to kill children. I suppose you could argue "unreliable narrator" but it seemed an incongruity

    *Abe was sent from the future. He has all the kill info and knows some of the future, showing that this is possible. Why doesn't Rainmaker send someone from the future to wait for Old Joe before he kills Abe? Why doesn't he send some future Willisx3 badass?

    *Old Joe knows his 30 years is up yet does nothing to protect his ladyfriend. He's also had 30 years to figure out how to avoid mafia, change identity, find another mafia with another time machine and do another time jump. etc.

    *If you were being thrown into the time machine with bricks strapped to your back, wouldn't you turn around once inside? Wouldn't you hide a stock report on your body somewhere or a sports book for your younger self?

    *What if YJ goes to his cane field killing tarp at the appointed time...and somebody is there having a picnic or something?

    *Before he can kill the 2nd boy on his list, Old Joe suddenly says "rainmaker", meaning he suddenly has a memory of Cid at the farm...but then walks into the room and flips the light anyway, getting tazed. Since he now knows he's at the wrong place, that's a pretty major screwup for a guy that can wipe out an army (albeit they do the trope of taking him on one by one)

    *When you kill your future self, how is this proven to Abe? What if you just grabbed a homeless dude?

    *Abe says they can't kill young Seth because it affects the future but chopping off his limbs is surely a larger affect on the future since he will now not have ever been his older self to have come back and escape. Killing him, instead of mutilation, would have avoided this

    *If material goods can be sent back through time, and erased events cause things to disappear in the present, why does Sara end up with all the bars?

  • TobyMcGuiresSister

    Not a plothole, but:
    Abe's crew had an "X" on white paper with a red circle around it. This was supposed to be a usable map. How?

  • Moonshine 1

    Flipping Nora, I've just left a comment, but then lost what I'd wrote because I needed to join this website, now if time travel existed I would of already realised this and therefore I wouldn't of made that mistake and it wouldn't of happened, the same thing applies to the film " Looper ". When the main character Joe isn't it?, kills his older self at the end of the movie, if your thinking of time travel which the whole film revolves around, his older self would of never of existed, it never would of happened. What could of been more interesting to focus on as a concept for the film would of been, alternate realities, where things change ever so slightly. Then somehow with the time travel getting mixed up with an alternate universe, & the future being open up to an array of infinate possibilities, well then yes I can see how Joe, in his reality, his world, could kill his older self. Mabye that's what they're trying to convey in the film? Perhaps, Wadda you think?
    Write answers please on a blank unmarked postcard & send to this address......

  • vpaulsmithjr

    The whole movie was a stupid plot hole. I loved the idea of sending bodies to the past to dispose off. But beyond that, it was the typical Hollywood mess off "alternate timelines" that are a complete cop out. (I make an exception for Back to the Future.)
    If you go back to the past and 'change something' and a new time line firms, then you didn't actually change your past. It's stupid. And to the author of this article: Yes, there is a perfect time travel movie. Timecrimes. It is flawless. Or even 12 Monkeys. No changing of the past. No paradoxes. And you can still have suspense in spite of that.
    I saw so much promise in Looper, but was hugely let down by all the stupid, illogical "arm scar writing" stuff, and other things like it. Stupid.
    They should've at least made it clear at the end that the kids still becomes the Rainmaker. That would've been satisfying.

  • vpaulsmithjr

    The whole movie was a stupid plot hole. I loved the idea of sending bodies to the past to dispose off. But beyond that, it was the typical Hollywood mess off "alternate timelines" that are a complete cop out. (I make an exception for Back to the Future.)
    If you go back to the past and 'change something' and a new time line firms, then you didn't actually change your past. It's stupid. And to the author of this article: Yes, there is a perfect time travel movie. Timecrimes. It is flawless. Or even 12 Monkeys. No changing of the past. No paradoxes. And you can still have suspense in spite of that.
    I saw so much promise in Looper, but was hugely let down by all the stupid, illogical "arm scar writing" stuff, and other things like it. Stupid.

  • ThunderCunts

    So can someone explain to me if murder was so bad in the future that they'd instantly get caught, how they murdered Bruce Willis' wife?

  • Mario Rossi

    well no the old chap crushed the young's one hand and apparetly no consequences for the old dude so they are not the same person. back to the future is the only film who does not make mess with time travel.