Sunday, September 30, 2012

"My Problem With Looper's Logic" or "Does This Mean I Don't Like Looper?!?!"

Thursday night, I found myself at a midnight showing of Looper at the Arclight in Hollywood. Before I jump into my thoughts on the movie aka the point of this article, I do want to mention that Looper now holds the title for Best Midnight Showing Director Introduction. See, Rian Johnson showed up in full Arclight employee garb, introduced himself simply as "Rian" and did nothing but say what the Arclight employees always say before a movie starts. As he was speaking, I thought to myself, wait a second, I know that guy, thinking he was just an Arclight dude who has been around forever, not putting two and two together that he looked familiar because I've been hearing him talk at conventions all year. Because he's Rian Johnson. But someone in our group quickly figured it out and we began uncontrollably snickering, causing Johnson to ask towards the end of his speil - "What's so funny?" It was a perfect moment, and set a nice tone going into the film.

But now to get some things off my chest after the jump. Spoilers ahead!

I really liked Looper. I was engaged from start to finish. I loved the new take on the rules of time travel/solving the paradox of time travel. I loved the world building. I loved the sound. I loved the music. I loved the performances. I loved that the marketing made us *think* we were being spoiled, when in fact what the movie is truly about was never even hinted at. I could go on. I was totally on board as the film hurdled toward its conclusion, eagerly anticipating what was sure to be an intense and satisfying ending. I, unlike many of my cohorts out there from what I hear, absolutely loved the little kid. Unsettling yet adorable, I was both terrified of and horribly concerned for him. He worked for me. But as the end unfolded, specifically when Young Joe launches into his speech about seeing what was about to happen, calling it a "loop" and then deciding to end it by killing himself, I found myself becoming increasingly disappointed. I found myself questioning the film's logic, allowing it to pull me completely outside of the film. This questioning, according to Da7e on last week's Operation Kino, means I wasn't on board with the film to begin with, and was perhaps waiting for the other logic shoe to drop, but I don't know if I'm positive about that.

See, I was totally enraptured by the time travel logic that the film had set up before the end. I liked this new conceit of if you travel within your own timeline, the universe deals with the paradox by actively changing your memory. That is *cool* - it hasn't been done! When Old Joe says not to worry about the time travel logic, I thought, okay, I won't! Because I had accepted what was presented and was excited to see where it went. The problem arose when the film out of nowhere decided that the logic it had spent 90 minutes setting up was in fact not correct, and this is just another take on the old "time is a loop" scenario. And worse yet, that scenario doesn't even make sense. Does it make sense that Marty McFly would start disappearing in a photo, but still exist in real life? No. But the time travel logic worked, so I went along with it. With Looper, we are asked to accept the fact that the Rainmaker exists because Old Joe kills his mother, and that the only way to end it is for Young Joe to kill himself, thus killing Old Joe as well. But after being told specifically that time travel *doesn't* work as a loop in this universe, how then can I turn around and accept that it is during the climax of the film? No, of course I'm going to then ask, but in timeline one young Old Joe kills old old joe, so how exactly does the Rainmaker become the Rainmaker? If he is destined to in any timeline, then Young Joe killing himself doesn't really help matters much, does it? To make matters worse, any article I read wherein someone asks Johnson about this, his response is always something along the lines of, it's time travel, you're mean to just go along with the magical logic!

But this doesn't work for me. Time travel can't be both a loop and not a loop.

The question Da7e presents is - did this lapse in storytelling coherency stop me from loving the movie, or is it bothering me only because I wasn't loving the movie before that point in the film? I really couldn't say. I've been on the fence about films before that were then saved by their endings, and have loved movies before that I then only liked after witnessing its lackluster conclusion.

Would I still recommend the movie to people? Yes. But less because "IT'S FUCKING AWESOME!" and more, "Let me know when you've seen it so we can talk about it." Does what bothered me bother anyone else? Or is the problem most people have with the film simply the second (or third? how do we calculate this?) act shift, which I don't mind at all?

In any event, I'm really sick of being so underwhelmed with movies this year. Bah.