Rian Johnson directed what was probably the most controversial movies in the Star Wars series. But before he did that, he had to do something to get Disney’s attention, and a that would be the sci-fi movie Looper.
Jimmy and Tom had a chat about that one.
jimmy: Ya know, I wasn’t sure how much I was enjoying this film, but the third act was tremendous.
tomk: I just learned time travel never goes well for Bruce Willis.
But I think we both saw why Rian Johnson got that Last Jedi job.
jimmy: Use the Force, Cid!
tomk: He did!
So, arguably, the first two acts are there to set up the third. It’s all vital.
jimmy: They seem better in retrospect. I thought it was a bit dull prior to the third. Maybe dull is too harsh, but it wasn’t doing much to blow me away.
tomk: It had a certain tone that reminded me of a hard boiled 40s detective or gangster movie.
jimmy: Good point. While it had the sci-fi backstory and set up, it really never felt that way until the final act.
tomk: Not even when we saw the alternate timeline that led to Bruce Willis?
jimmy: Well, it’s not a perfect observation. 🙂
tomk: Is it you just want to flip loonies with your mind?
jimmy: Eff that, I want Rainmaker-level powers!
tomk: Everyone has to start somewhere before they explode some hit men.
jimmy: Speaking of exploding hit men, it seems like everything I watch lately has Garret Dillahunt in it. He’s in Fear The Walking Dead now. We’ve been watching Deadwood recently and he plays at least two characters in that. And last weekend we watched Braven, and he was in that too.
tomk: Might want to avoid the sitcom Raising Hope then.
jimmy: Heh. Done and done.
tomk: Unless you really like the guy. In which case, do the opposite.
jimmy: I don’t dislike him; it’s just funny that he seems to be everywhere.
tomk: Is he living in your basement or shed?
jimmy: …I haven’t been out to the shed lately…
tomk: Might want to check. That might explain a few things.
jimmy: Hopefully there’s not a JGL with a fake nose and a blunderbuss out there.
tomk: I’d watch out more for a Bruce Willis Terminator.
jimmy: He sure went through a lot of guys back at Jeff Daniels’ House O’ Loopers.
tomk: It’s not surprising given who ran the place. All I know is Daniels is either dumb or dumber.
Thinking about it though…the Loopers hardly had to be very skilled hitmen. They basically stood in one spot with a shotgun and immediately fired whenever someone appeared.
(Unless it fit the plot point, then they would hesitate…)
tomk: They weren’t the smartest of people. Young Joe told us so.
tomk: And Young Joe killed fewer children.
jimmy: Well, Old Joe only killed one.
tomk: Yeah, nothing evil there.
jimmy: I guess one is enough
And contrasting with Young Joe killing himself to save a kid.
tomk: A little late for that unless Young Joe’s death stopped Old Joe from killing that other kid. But then Young Joe has no reason to kill himself if Old Joe never existed.
jimmy: Now we’re getting into the meat of things…
tomk: You do like you meat. You were always allowed to have your pudding because you always ate your meat.
jimmy: Great deep cut reference. Bravo.
I think one of the reasons I was struggling with the first part of the movie was the time travel. It’s like they wanted to have their cake and eat it too, if that makes sense. Like, the scene where they were cutting off body parts and we saw the effect on the Looper in the future was cool, but set up numerous paradoxes. I know they tried to skate over all of this a bit in the diner scene where Robin is like “I’ll just not go meet your wife, so you’ll never know her” and Die Hard is like “it doesn’t really work like that, all my memories are fuzzy”, etc.
I think I was able to make some peace with it, and enjoy it more in retrospect when I read an interview with Rian Johnson who essentially said that he didn’t want to spend 2 hours explaining the rules of time travel, he just wanted to set up the basic premise and then get to the meat of the movie without worrying about the paradoxes.
tomk: Johnson’s a storyteller first and foremost. All good directors are. How something works is less important than the fact it does.
jimmy: Fair. But I think Nolan would have been more focused on making everything line up, possibly to the detriment of the story that was trying to be told here. Who knows. But I think if they did try to stick to the “rules”, we wouldn’t have a movie.
tomk: Movies like this one have to invent their own rules. And Nolan might be closer to Kubrick in terms of perfection than Johnson is.
jimmy: Getting away from the time travel aspect (kinda), I was a bit surprised that the movie’s plot wasn’t “Old Joe goes back in time and teams up with Young Joe to prevent problems in the future”. It’s kind of that, but I would have predicted that the Joes would work together, which they never do. Willis and Gordon-Levitt don’t even have that many scenes together.
tomk: I did dig when Young Joe tried to help Daniels’ people kill Old Joe in that diner and almost forgot they were trying to kill him too.
jimmy: Lol, yes. There’s like this comedic beat where they are all standing there and Young Joe is like “oh shit” and takes off.
tomk: Joe at any age is apparently unreasonable.
You mentioned that the loopers didn’t have to be all that skilled at killing. Old Joe clearly could handle himself in any fight. What did you think of Young Joe’s skills?
jimmy: I dunno. He doesn’t seem any more capable than the rest of the Loopers. He gets his ass handed to him a couple of times. He showed his smarts when he “smoked” Marty McFly on the hoverbike.
Now Old Joe, your Terminator comparison was apt. But really, any of those 80’s heroes that would take out whole compliments of guys without a scratch. I would compare him to John McClaine, but McClaine was more injured than anyone in the Christmas classic Die Hard.
tomk: But possibly less injured in the Arbor Day classic It’s a Good Day to Die Hard.
jimmy: Like Young Joe, he got better as he got older.
tomk: I think that was the point of the thirty year sequence.
jimmy: I can’t recall now. In the original/alternate/”who the hell knows” timeline, did Joe leave right away after he killed Bruce and closed his loop?
tomk: Yes. Then he goes off to, well, do a lot violent criminal stuff until he meets his wife and eventually suggests time isn’t really a flat circle.
jimmy: I’d be curious what Ryan thinks of this movie as he loves time travel, but this plays very fast and loose with it. If you get caught up with wanting it to “play by the rules” (like I started to) it will ruin the film for you.
tomk: Someone should ask him.
jimmy: Well, he had his chance!
tomk: Ryan or Old Joe?
tomk: Old Joe had a different chance.
If he’d just gone to see the Rainmaker first…
jimmy: So…ok…nevermind…I started down a train of thought that dealt with the time travel and should Old Joe know what happened to “create” the Rainmaker, etc. because Young Joe witnessed it, etc., but I just said “Stop”.
tomk: Too many variables. Probably a good thing we didn’t watch Primer.
jimmy: I’m not familiar with that one.
tomk: I haven’t seen that one either, but I think it’s about two guys who invent a time machine in their garage and that one does think through all the implications and having a notebook handy for the viewer might be a good idea.
Should I ask if you’ve seen Twelve Monkeys?
jimmy: I have. But it has been a LONG time. I really liked it though.
tomk: And it demonstrated why Bruce Willis shouldn’t time travel.
jimmy: He should stick to killing terrorists trying to steal Christmas.
tomk: Lousy grinches.
jimmy: I know they made JGL wear prosthetics to more resemble Bruce Willis…did you think it worked?
tomk: Not really.
But I accepted they were the same person. That’s all that matters. You?
jimmy: Agreed. They really could have left it alone. It wasn’t like you were watching it and going “holy shit…he looks like a young Bruce Willis!”
tomk: If they really wanted that, I am sure one actor playing both roles would have worked out fine.
jimmy: Well, probably work better with JGL playing both. Would be a lot easier (and cheaper) to make him look older than to have Bruce Willis look younger.
But then you also lose the star power of Bruce Willis. And no offense to JGL, but he’s not exactly a box office draw.
tomk: I don’t know how big a movie Looper is, but you are probably right about Willis.
jimmy: It’s total domestic gross is ~$66m against a $30m budget. It did make $20m on it’s opening weekend and finished second to Hotel Transylvania.
tomk: Are you Ryan or Watson right now?
jimmy: Hopefully Ryan. No one wants to be Watson.
tomk: Not even Watson?
jimmy: No one.
tomk: What if Watson was the Rainmaker?
jimmy: Hopefully Young Joe shoots him instead of himself.
tomk: Are we getting silly?
jimmy: Maybe. Anything else you wanted to add?
tomk: I’m not sure. Emily Blunt was pretty good in this. We said more about Garret Dillahunt and Watson than we did the ostensible female lead.
jimmy: If Jenny ever read this (which she won’t) she’d give us hell for that!
tomk: Or not. She’s just the mother whose death was almost the catalyst for the rise of a brutal crime lord. Plus, she knew what loopers were.
jimmy: And she liked to screw with guys at the bar.
Is that a double entente?
tomk: Screwing with loopers?
Let me check with Doc Brown.
jimmy: Heh. She was good though. Not like, she should be Captain Marvel good, but good.
Man, we are covering all the bases in this one. All we need to do is bash Krull and the trifecta is complete.
tomk: Krull sucks.
jimmy: We did it!
Time to rate this one?
jimmy: It’s time.
tomk: I’m going with 8.5 out of 10 disappearing limbs.
jimmy: I’ll go slightly lower at 8 this got me the Last Jedi job whether you like it or not out of 10.
tomk: Impressive since it almost lost you in the beginning.
jimmy: Very true. That third act was most impressive.
Well, I think it’s time for our next film. It’s a movie about a bus that had to SPEED around a city, keeping its SPEED over fifty, and if its SPEED dropped, it would explode! I think it is called, They Live, starring Rowdy Roddy Piper and directed by John Carpenter.
tomk: Quite the segue there.
jimmy: It’s also a very, very deep cut “loop” joke.
tomk: Well, this is the feature that couldn’t slow down.
NEXT TIME: Tom and Jimmy need to put on their shades and check out the political sci-fi satire that is 1988 movie They Live.