If I could go back in time and stop myself from watching Looper, would I? Well, at the very least I wouldn't shotgun blast myself before it. No ma'am, for you see, that will just fuck me up in the future in this film's rather silly time travel laws....
No, wait. Strike that. That's the problem I have with this film - it has no laws that it needs to stick with. And while you may think that having an undefined set of rules for a science fiction based story may be a good thing and I'm thinking too hard on it, perhaps you mistake what I'm saying in all this.
When I walked out of the theater after it had ended, I had the same sort of feeling I had after I watched Source Code. That the movie was competently made and the actors were fairly good in their roles, but that the ending had to be the worst part of the whole mess.
The problem is that the thing is filled with so many plot holes, you could fill them in with trucks. To start off, I didn't understand or buy the rational behind the whole concept of loopers. We're told at the beginning that the whole reason for their existence is that it's way too complicated and messy to kill someone in the future because it's hard to get rid of a body and there is genetic trackers or whatever. Yet it's totally cool for people to suddenly disappear from the face of the earth in their time stream?
The way they are killed in the past is with a shotgun and their body is dumped into an incinerator. So why exactly can this not be done in the future? Did they somehow outlaw incinerators? I'm pretty sure a billion degree heat will destroy any genetic tracker. Or maybe they're just harder to fashion in the future black market than a goddamn time machine.
Not to mention that in the future we're shown Joe kill people in drive-bys in broad daylight. Later in the film we see the mob kill someone in a residential neighborhood without batting an eye. What do they do with her body and why bother sending Old Joe back in time if they already killed his wife with ease?
Then you have the paradoxes that come with the concept of time travel, which are so bare and nagging that I really couldn't help but be a little sperg about some of them, as they did take me out of the film. Since time travel is so fraught with unworkable paradoxes in itself, the only way to make a movie reality where you can accept it is to cover it up with layers and layers of obfuscation and trickery that you're never the wiser that the shit is so unworkable.
That's why films like Primer and Timecrimes work so well. It actually takes a moment to establish rules and it follows its own logic, and it throws so much information at you that it seems actually plausible that you buy it. Looper just doesn't even bother with that. It actually tells you numerous times to not think about its main gimmick too much. You can't do that, and then base so much of your plot on the very mechanic you're asking your audience not to question.
The mutilation scenes are a good example of how Looper does this. The scene asks you to accept that mutilating a younger version of yourself would change your appearance in your future self if you happened to travel back in time, suggesting a single connected timeline. The bizarre justification for this, for not outright killing himself, is that it would be too drastic of a paradox. It doesn't take long to see the complete lack of logic in all this.You know, how or when the first time travel paradox actually happened to result in all this if you can't break out of this circle you're going around with.
It's just a mess in the time travel department and not establishing and sticking with set laws just makes me want to not care as they'll just be pulling out any reasoning as to why things are the way they are or fix things.
Another note, while I like JGL, he is mostly just trying to act though prosthetics and trying to mimic Bruce Willis through it all. Which is not really something I care for as the last thing that this movie needed is another Bruce Willis. The tragedy of all this is that the scenes they both are together are the stronger scenes of the film, which of course means that there is about 5 minutes worth of them.
It's also strange how the Chinese wife had zero lines, which was strange because we're supposed to understand that she's the reason why Bruce Willis has to murder children. So not establishing that well enough didn't help this film all that much.
In the end, it's not a very thought out time travel film and since that's the foundation for this gimmick, it suffers because of it.