BE WARY OF SPOILERS BEYOND THIS POINT.THIS IS YOUR ONLY WARNING.
So how did the time loop start? Clearly, Old Joe successfully closed his loop and lived 30 years of his life without meeting Cid and with no Older Joe attempting to kill Cid. How did the Rainmaker come into being in that timeline? Or did Cid become the Rainmaker without Joe killing his mother? There seems to be a bit of a Timey-Wimey Ball.
It's not technically a single loop. Sara and Cid already has a very rough life. Cid can barely control his power and there is little Sara can do to comfort him, considering Cid does not believe Sara is his own mother. All it takes is just a sudden outburst of rage and Sara will suffer the same fate as her sister. That is not counting what kind of danger the two face living in the middle of nowhere. In the movie's main timeline, Joe's influence on Cid and Sarah plus the warning what he was to become might have been enough to get them on the path where Cid is raised properly.
The way time-travel works in that universe seems to be that, aside from using a time machine, events effect the present and future, not the past. So when Young Seth is tortured, Old Seth is maimed and traumatized, but the fact that he escaped in the first place is unchanged. Likewise, when Young Joe dies, Old Joe ceases to exist, but his effect on the timeline up to that point isn't undone.
Maybe Original Rainmaker's Sarah was killed by a different Looper.
I think it makes more sense to suggest that Joe is both the solution to and perpetuation of the Rainmaker situation: Old Joe inadvertently causes Young Joe to save Cid, but if Old Joe isn't stopped he'll inadvertently screw that up again by killing Sarah.
As said lower on the page a loop doesnt necessarily have to be a simple circle, it could just as well be a figure eight or even more complicated shape.
It's worth noting that all the information we get about the Rainmaker comes from Old!Joe after he has been sent back in time. By this point his memories of the next/previous thirty years are already fuzzy and prone to default to the most likely outcome. The things he said may not have been true in his own past.
The Loop presumably starts with Cid becoming the Rainmaker regardless of Sarah's parenting because she refused to confront him about the warning signs. In this timeline, Sarah doesn't die, but Cid becomes evil anyways.
Here's the way I think it works. There's timeline 1 (Old Joe's) which is an internally consistent stable time loop. The kid never meets Joe and becomes the Rainmaker because of his poor relationship with his mother. Joe grows up, marries the girl, she's killed, and he's sent back in time so his younger self can kill him. Then there's timeline 2 (the main events of the movie) which splinters off when Old Joe manages to escape instead of being killed. In this one we're led to believe that the kid probably won't become the Rainmaker because Joe comes in and gets him and his mother to work through their feelings and show him how much she loves him (though as the person above me notes, what exactly will happen is left ambiguous, and he could still become the Rainmaker for all we know). The Timey Wimey Ball nature of all this is basically justified and lampshaded in the film when Old Joe refers to the logic as being fuzzy and states that the scientists of the future don't even fully understand all this stuff. Rian Johnson has stated he wanted the universe to respond as a kind of living organism to time travel rather than follow strict rules.
Don't forget that Old!Joe explicitly mentioned that the Rainmaker witnessed his mother being killed and had an iron jaw, and it's heavily hinted that he "closes all the loops" (=kills all loopers) as an act of revenge. The final scene with Old!Joe, Sarah and Cid basically is a prelude to this development. So whatever happened in Old!Joe's timeline, it was very similar to what is happening at the end of the movie (probably some other looper did pretty much the same stuff as Old!Joe does, but his younger self was bright enough to leave town before the gatmen got to him).
My assumption to this was the timeline we see is the last one and breaks the loop. Young!Joe kills himself to stop Old!Joe from existing. If he hadn't then Old!Joe would have killed Sarah, Cid would have run away and gone on the path to becoming Rainmaker. Regardless of what happened to Old!Joe, Young!Joe still lives because killing himself now would be pointless; Sarah would still be dead and Cid will still become Rainmaker. In 30 years, he is either captured or voluntarily goes back into the past to be killed by the Joe that we see as Old!Joe in the timeline that the story is set in. He gets the gold and lives it up but it's inevitable that Cid will become Rainmaker in that timeline too and have the loopers killed. So when he's captured and his wife is killed, it sets forward the loop again. Old!Joe is sent back, Young!Joe hesitates and gets knocked out. These events keep happening until Young!Joe is able to see what's happening and kills himself before Sarah is killed by Old!Joe. When that happens, the loop is broken, Old!Joe ceases to exist and with Cid's acceptance that Sarah is his mother, he doesn't go down the Rainmaker path.
It's probably something like a thread with a lot of frayed strands all along it's length. Things loop in and out of each other, some ending, others re-integrating, but no actual 'true' path other than a large and general one. And likewise, you have many many many threads and strands all clumped together, some running in parallel, others independantly, others still composed of even more strands. Alternatively, it's probably also similar to quantum mechanics - both happen (or more precisely, it's undetermined) until something forces one path or another. In the case of loopers themselves, the reason the situation with Seth occurs could be a case of quantum entanglement - up until Old!Seth is sent back, the situation is undefined. But when he arrives, the two became the same person from that point forward (but not back) and the state of Seth has settled into a defined state thus the effects proprogating from one to the next.
So you can't kill people in the future due to forensics and identification methods - that's why the mob hires Loopers in the first place. So how does the mob get away with just shooting Old Joe's wife shortly after they enter his place to abduct him?
That was in China. Presumably there's a different situation there than in America. The question becomes why didn't they just shoot him while they were in China since they were killing people anyway?
Director saysthey didn't, not really. The tracking device can run for two years after someone died, but it only activates when someone dies. The burning the house down is their weak attempt to cover it up. Presumably, if they were found out to have committed a non-loop murder, they themselves would be killed by time travel in order to cover it up.
This also brings up the question, why they are carrying lethal weapons in the first place, when they already know they can't use them without causing a huge mess. Stun guns or weapons with rubber bullets would make more sense.
Because they're more intimidating? Or they're just dumb.
I thought the guy that accidentally shot her looked sort of like a grizzled older Kid Blue, so "just dumb" would be an entirely accurate assessment if so.
Since the mob probably dabbles in a wide range of crimes, it's inevitable that they'll have to fight off some cops; perhaps they carry lethal weapons not to attack people, but defend themselves in a pinch. This also adds up when you consider Old Joe's wife was killed for holding a gardening trowel, meaning it was just a mook panicking.
Another theory is that this had to do with the Rainmaker. After taking over the world (essentially), he no longer had to operate even remotely under the radar. And by continuing with the long-standing tradition of having a looper close his own loop, he doesn't alert Abe or anyone in the past to the new state of affairs. So killing Old Joe's Wife isn't a problem, but killing Old Joe might raise some questions that could affect causality.
This actually makes most sense. After all, it's heavily hinted that the Rainmaker is some kind of semi-messianic crimelord who turns the future into a dystopia - so why should he bother about some additional killings somewhere in China? Besides, though Young!Joe sets up the story that in the future basically any murder can be tracked, this doesn't mean that no murders are comitted anymore - just that the vast majority of them are outsourced to the past.
The loopers don't make any sense. So technically it is possible to find solve every murder in the future. In practise, the Rain maker pretty much rules the world (or the US anyway) and before that it was five different crime syndicates. These people are going to have the whole legal systems in their pockets, so they can do whatever the hell they want. Knowing who killed who and how isn't going to be of any use when noone wants or dares to mess with the murderers.
on the contrary. Without the rainmaker, there is always going to be somebody prepared to risk merely being shot at for justice, because they are safe so long as they shoot first, or aren't in range of any weapons. with him, on the other hand, nothing can be done to harm or rstrain him, and a mere thought will injure, torture, or just plain rupture anyone who displeases him. That's liable to intimidate enough to deal with a sufficient number of otherwise incorruptible justices.
The thing is that even if one person has a justice pathos, it's not going to touch the perps if the rest of the system i corrupt. We've already seen that it is possible in real life, for example in Mexico or any given dictatorship, so the loopers are in no way tipping the scales.
The Rainmaker might be scary, but he's hardly invulnerable. So he can't be beaten head on thanks to his TK ability- but does that make him immune to being poisoned or being taken out by a sniper that's half a mile (or more) away? His powers have limits- he can't protect himself from something that takes him out before he gets time to react. Unless he's such a powerful TK that he can continually project a TK barrier that protects him from any sort of attack all the time.
Complications, while rare, do occur— some targets can run, you've got to find guys willing to execute folks, etc, etc , etc. Why doesn't the Mob just have Loopers dispose of the bodies, but kill the guy before sending him through?
They mention forensics being one of the reasons why they don't kill and dispose people in the future, better question why they don't paralyze them as they did Joe in China right before sending them back so there is no chance of escape or communication with the looper in the present.
Because they're easier to transport without it? Because loops require someone to be fully conscious or something? Plot?
They can't. Upon death, a global chip installed in the body determines time and place of death. That is why they have to send people into the past.
What's being overlooked is that a causal paradox goes both ways. As a Troper mentioned, if the Rainmaker controls most of the world at this point, then maybe his mooks don't bother sending people back to be murdered, only Loopers, because failing to do so will change the past. The Looper murders are all from a point in time where the Syndicates aren't confident enough in their power to openly murder people.
The movie leaves it ambiguous if Cid grows up into Rainmaker or not. It gives hope that he and his mother are still alive but obviously Old!Joe didn't initially kill Sara in the timeline he came from where he closes his loop. The movie seems based on the idea of time travelers making a Alternate Timeline when they arrive in the past becoming paradoxes who the new timeline immediately tries to correct via synching them to the changes made in the present timeline. Exactly like with Old!Seth, who only started to suffer issues after they began to mutilate Young!Seth to get him to give up. But it is classic Timey-Wimey Ball.
It seems to make sense when you consider both Seth's temporal mutilation and Old!Joe's explanation of his memories in the diner. When you send something or someone back in time, it becomes a quantum possibility in the past; it's what could happen if things are allowed to progress as they did before. Problems arise when this possibility affects its own origins and creates a paradox, which is probably why time travel is banned in the first place, and why Old!Loopers need to be disposed of as quickly as possible. As far as the Rainmaker is concerned, There's nothing to say the loop actually began with Old!Joe, especially given that Old!Joe killed his own future self, and thus never interacted with Cid, who became the Rainmaker anyway.
Based on what we're told, it seems to be an infinite worlds scenario. Time travel is a one way ticket; in the original timeline the traveler is erased from his point of travel forward. When he lands in the past, a new timeline branches off. We can see this with Abe, who was sent into the past to oversee Loopers and ends up running the city, and Old!Joe, who kills his older self but then ends up in a timeline where he himself is not killed by his younger version. The time traveler becomes a collection of possibilities—he can create new timelines by interacting with his past and is changed by that interaction to reflect the new reality. To bring this back to the Rainmaker; Cid was set on the path to become the Rainmaker, and in one timeline that happened. In that timeline, Old!Joe killed Older!Joe and then went on to live his life. When Old!Joe was sent back, he escaped, creating a new timeline where his younger self took a different path. Because his insertion to the timeline was after the events that set Cid on the path to become the Rainmaker, Cid is still on that path, but the change to the timeline presents Joe the Younger with the opportunity to create (or fulfill) a new timeline where Cid does not become the Rainmaker. In theory, all of those previous timelines still exist, but because we are following a specific set of characters and their specific actions, what we perceive as multiple timelines clashing is really just one timeline out of a host of possible ones.
But if the multiple worlds theory is correct, then the characters are still completely different people, so the timeline should not alter the future versions of them with changes made to their past selves. If I travel to a parallel world and kill myself at a young age, I logically shouldn't dissapear, because it's not really me, just an alternate version of me. This is one of those rare, insane movies that both depends on parallel universes and depends on NOT having them.
The alterations are space-time attempting to repair what seems to be a paradox, when really it's just a case of multiple dimensions. In other words, the universe attempts to make two different entities from different timelines more alike. And yes, the movie was more about timline travel than time-travel, perse.
That's pretty much how it seems. There is no butterfly at work, but time "tries" to redirect itself into its original stream. This would explain why the very scenario that plays out in the future (Cid witnessing his mother being killed, getting shot in the jaw, and developing a grudge against loopers) is actually produced by Old!Joe who couldn't have done it in the original timeline, where probably another looper was to be blamed. And this would explain why Abe is able to manage the present for the future even though his very presence would produce a paradox in the first place: He is pretty savvy when it comes to how far he can mess with the timeline without bringing everything down (like prefering to mutilate failed loopers and saving them as vegetables for 30 years instead over killing them outright).
The movie goes out of its way to say that time travelers represent their current selves possible future. In their own timeline, that future was set in stone by actually having happened, but in the new timeline that future is only the initial starting point—differences between the new and original timelines change the course of the younger self's future and thus the person that he may become ends up fluctuating. So in a sense, a time traveler gives up being a completely separate person, instead becoming dependent on the choices his younger self makes. In a completely unaltered timeline, that would end up being the same life (more or less.) But when the younger ends up getting caught in diverging events, the older changes to reflect that. In this way, it still works as a many worlds scenario.
I think I may have figured this one out. I've spent the past hour thinking about it, so I hope so..... If Young!Joe kills himself, he negates everything that Old!Joe might do, meaning that the Rainmaker never comes into existence. If the Rainmaker never comes into existence, then Old!Joe wouldn't have been sent back and thus, Young!Joe would have just carried on with his life being a Looper. He would have grown old, gotten married, and died normally (maybe). Cid's mother also wouldn't be killed by Old!Joe because Old!Joe wouldn't be sent back, so he never grows up evil, and the lives of Cid and the Loopers are completely separate. Am I missing something?
In response to the original post: The movie is maddeningly inconsistent on how actions affect the future and present. Seth can get his feet cut off, but the world has no problem with assuming Future!Seth had feet up until the instant Past!Seth has his cut off. This make no temporal sense. Either he still has his feet because he isn't the same Seth, or he doesn't have them because they were cut off 30 years ago. Since Cid's jaw wound didn't instantly heal when Joe (both of them) died, we can assume that the same thing is going on. This neatly avoid all paradoxes. If Old!Joe had killed Cid, Cid would have been dead, and Old!Joe would either have been stuck in his past, or disappeared. Everyone else would proceed as if Cid had died any other way.
The time machine can clearly transport across space as well as time, given that Joe gets sent from China to the US. With this in mind, why bother with the Loopers in the first place? Just beam your victims into space or to the bottom of the ocean.
And even if you can't control the location of the beam-in, the loopers can obviously predict it - so why not just build an incinerator AROUND the beam-in location?
It may be that the machines are "locked" to a particular location, or Old Joe would've changed where he showed up. He certainly knows a lot about time travel compared to his younger self. Maybe he just didn't have time to alter it.
With Fridge Logic, surely any time machine would have to transport across space as well, since the Earth, the Sun and everything else in the universe is moving. In which case, a time machine locked to an absolute position (if such a thing is possible in post-Einstein physics) would be a perfect disposal & murder system, since it would almost certainly send anything into space.
We don't know that they actually do space as well as time. The only time we see a time machine, it's in a weird little nook in a building. It may have been put there to correspond to that Kansas field in the past. We don't know how much time passes between when Old Joe is picked up and when he's put in the machine, they could have flown him back to the US first.
Because the silver/gold market manipulation was a part of the mafia's operation. Getting rid of bodies is a bonus and also ensures the loyalty of the loopers. It is also possible that the time travel works similarly to a relaxed version of that of the terminator franchise, and a live human must always go along, being a one way journey that scrambles your brain some they ran out of volunteers and decided to kill two birds with one stone.
How does Sara know about loopers?
They're known about in various circles, and may just be kind of that thing you don't discuss, like the mob in general. She may have just heard about it in passing, which could be part of the reason why she chose to move so far away from city life.
Its implied that she was a hooker, and that she probably had Loopers as clients.
Why do they send an old looper back in time to be killed by their younger selves? Why not send them to any other looper?
Probably a lot of reasons. The payout in gold instead of silver is worth killing themselves in thirty years to these guys. They all signed a contract that they would die at the end of their contract anyway and they're no less dead if someone else does it, so why not? They seem to think it's kind of a cool idea to kill their future selves. Maybe it's a way to avoid the anger and paranoia of wondering which of your friends will ultimately kill you? It's how you know that you're allowed to retire? Blood in, blood out gang mentality?
So the Loopers don't kill each other ala Highlander, to be the one that is left at the end.
It's also a way of keeping control. By forcing them to kill future selves, they are sending them a message that boils down to "We will find you, so don't bother running."
Also a way of getting them to accept their fate — Future Joe doesn't resist when the Rainmaker's mooks come for him, until his wife is shot.
It's proof that they held up their end of the bargain and let them live a full 30 years and were just not going to kill the young looper right after the gig.
What's to stop a looper who's just closed his contract from buying a fortress and an army of heavily-armed, well trained guards? Or better yet, live a spartan existence for 29 years and 11 months, and then buy a fortress and an army of heavily-armed, well trained guards? The fact is, giving somebody a lot of money (over 3.6 million at least, by my estimates) and then telling them, "Do whatever you want, because we're going to kill you in thirty years" is not a very good idea.
Loopers are established as not being particularly forward-thinking. Joe's habit of saving half of his silver for his eventual retirement is considered a smart financial move, and he still blows through his retirement in a decade. The job itself is not something that requires much more than the ability to point and pull a trigger which explains not only why Loopers can be addicts without it affecting their jobs, but also why none of them could really guard against their own future. They can't just go from living hard and playing hard to living cautious and playing safe at the drop of a hat.
Well, there are only a small number of loopers, and the mob is pretty powerful. Presumably if it's that much trouble to get to a Looper, they just wait. And remember, the Rainmaker has special powers, so if there's some sort of crisis, he could take care of them personally. We might've just been seeing the Loopers who got caught. It's not even clear when the mob comes for someone; in Joe's case, it just happened to be some point in the 30th year, while RM was closing all the loops. Loopers are presumably explicitly selected from people without much foresight or inclination for forward planning.
We're told there are complications involved with time paradoxes; hence why the mob doesn't just kill Young Seth in order to get rid of Old Seth. Presumably these vague consequences would start catching up with a Looper who tries to live past their deadline, hindering their ability to preserve themselves.
Killing Young Seth would have been too much of a change because that would have cause Old Seth to vanish, along with the gold.
Paradoxes are only a problem if an old!looper tries to change the past. Trying to evade capture in the future wouldn't cause a paradox, especially since it would ultimately be futile.
It's possible that there is no real consequence to killing young Loopers to kill the old ones. If they're worried about how the future ends up changing by killing a looper before he gets sent back in time to be killed, that hardly seems to gel with the fact that they are perfectly willing to make the younger Looper entirely incapable of doing anything he would have done in the future via mutilation, or the fact that closing the loop only happens if the old Looper manages to survive 30 years—implying that some do not. Time travel being such a guarded secret, it is actually safer to kill the young Looper because by the time that time travel has been invented, all of your assassins are long dead. In the end, I think the stigma against killing a younger Looper before the older one is to make it so that the Loopers don't get junkie paranoid about the fact that they could get killed off, and to make the job an attractive one to prospective new Loopers.
Letting loopers live for 30 years and then killing them seems not very economic anyway. They have to find them after 30 years (what could be difficult even if they don't try to hide), capture them and make sure they didn't make preparations in case "something" happens to them. All of that just so they can't tell the police "Hey, that guy that went missing last week... I think killed somebody with a similar face 30 years ago"?
Loops don’t have to be circles. The way I see it is Old!Seth get sent back and escapes. Young!Seth gets mutilated. Then he’s stored until he is old enough to be sent back again. Mutilated!Seth gets killed by a new young!Seth who grows up and gets sent back only to escape, closing the loop. Presumably with Joe it gets a lot more complicated, or possibly he just destroyed the universe in a massive paradox.
Watching it, I had assumed that they had called "The Doctor" for the torture sequence with the intent to patch Seth back up after his older version was killed. Why would you need a doctor? Abe is perfectly capable of smashing fingers all on his own; presumably he can work a saw. It's abuse of a causality loop, natch; Old!Seth remains mutilated precisely because he's on the loose, and once he's safely disposed-of, Young!Seth gets his body put back together - which wouldn't have happened if Old!Seth was still running around - only to live his life for the next thirty years and get sent back to watch his fingers disappear. There are, in effect, two Seth-related timelines - one where he remains free but is horribly mutilated and has lived horribly mutilated for thirty years, and one where he's caught and killed and therefore put back together to live thirty unmutilated years before setting off the looped timeline. Phew.
Unlikely. Probably they just needed the doctor to make sure he lives through the ordeal (if this can be called a live). Nope, the scene is there to establish that no matter what awaits you in the future, you do NOT want to f*ck with Abe in the present.
I believe the mob is following on their assumptions that there is only one timeline, when there are really multiple ones. Old!Seth becomes mutilated because space-time mistakes them for the same entity when they're from two distinct timelines.
One has to wonder- what happens if a Looper dies before he is sent back to be executed? Or if nobody can find them? Leads to another question- what if some Loopers kill people who they only think are their future selves, with the gold just wrapped to some random target?
Maybe the looper just doesn't close his own loop. It's never stated that all loopers get that privilege. So you become a looper, spend all your money on drugs, die of an overdose in a back alley somewhere... No one needs to off you at that point, since it's already done. It doesn't seem to bother the story or the universe that Joe's looped is closed early due to his suicide. Closing the loop only seems to be important for those loopers that the future mob wants or needs to eliminate for some reason. Joe's work with some sort of Rainmaker resistance movement, for example.
Joe actually says in narration that if a Looper lives long enough, he closes his own loop.
So if Time Travel is outlawed in the future why are there no Time Police is this ban on the honor system or something?
It's implied that there's only one (or a very limited number) time machine and it's controlled by the bad guys. If the legitimate authorities ever got the time machine, they would destroy it. Then they would jail or kill (or something) all of the people involved in the extremely illegal activity. Using it themselves would be counterproductive and reckless. Besides, it's one way time travel and the world from thirty years ago sucked- who'd be willing to go back?
Also, how do you convict someone of time travelling? When do you arrest them? "You are to be accused of going to have been time travelling three weeks from how. How will you plead?" "I won't have been guilty by then, your honor." Like suicide, the act of time travel can't be legally challenged, only its attempt.
But you're assuming that the punishment is going to be a legal conviction, which seems unlikely. Time travel is so illegal that the absurdly powerful criminal syndicates are willing to kill geriatric drug addicts who used to work for them three decades earlier for fear that they might say something. And given the extremely destructive things people can probably conceive of doing with time travel, it seems plausible that the punishment for it won't be getting a trial followed by 25 to life, but the government immediately clusterbombing the area they think the time machine might be at.
I'm guessing they don't have a way to actually detect time travel. If they find a time machine, they may well bring in special investigators by the hundreds and send everyone remotely connected to it to the death chair, but they aren't able to prevent people from time traveling through any existing technological means.
How is this considered a Sci-Fi Noir? There's barley any Noir elements in the film and the narration ends after the first little while.
There's narration right at the very end of the film. The Noir elements are the Gray and Gray Morality, the themes of crime and assassination and the characters who are out for themselves and will do bad things to achieve good results.
Why are mob guns seen as so much better? The Blunderbuss is powerful, but incredibly short range and doesn't have a lot of ammo. The gats only have six shots. We see shotguns and modern pistols throughout the film that are just as effective, so why are mob guns seen as superior?
Kid Blue seems to think that his weapon runs on Rule of Cool, given the way he plays with it; that may be the selling point right there. And would you want to take a whole host of short-sighted drugged-out party animal thugs and give them long-range weapons requiring real training and insight to use, or is it just easier to give them an instant-kill short-range device that they can use even while high or hung over?
It might simply be that Blunderbusses are seen as being inferior to any weapon a Gat Man has access to. The other thing is Kid Blue is a pretty good example that the Gat Men aren't really that much better than the Loopers. Most of them are still only being trusted with a six-shooter, but because it's still better than what the Loopers get, they talk the weapon up to mythical levels, and milk it for all it's worth.
Do none of the loopers think to have a signal ready to give to their past self? Like with Seth, who couldn't shoot his older self signing a favourite nursery rhyme; signal your past self, get him to cash in the reward and split it, and take off to a new life far, far away from the mob.
Presumably the mob has a way of ensuring that the target gets disposed of, especially since a body needs to be destroyed. They figured out that Seth failed to kill his future self the same day that it happened. As for why they don't try, it's stated that looper's aren't the most forward-thinking bunch probably to avoid that problem.
Since Abe came from the future, where every death is automstically tracked and flagged by nano-transponders, it's not unreasonable to assume that he himself is taking advantage of said transponders to make certain the victims are being offed correctly.
They also may not realize that they can do that, as far as they know because they shot themselves in the past then its pre-determined that they end up being shot that day.
Really, there's no discernible way of getting far, far away from the mob. Neither of Seth's selves fare very well when they try separately, so it's fair to assume no one else has ever made it either. Hearing that anyone who's ever tried something has failed at it, and horrifically, is a pretty good deterrent. Remember, these guys aren't overly ambitious. They're doing simple jobs for easy money, and a lot of them seem to come from bad backgrounds, so to them the whole thing is a pretty sweet, if slightly icky, deal.
One also assumes that the mob encourages loopers to simply blow the mark away the instant he shows up. How much of a signal can you give in point-two-of-a-second? (The only reason old!Seth managed to get his nursery rhyme off was because young!Seth hesitated in the first place.)
Being bound, gagged and headbagged also severely limits your options for communication. In addition to that, any targets that know about the Loopers and what's about to happen to them may try and fake a signal. The Syndicate probably circulate stories of Loopers tricked into thinking they're closing their loop, only to be killed by their target because there's no paradox stopping them from doing so.
Perhaps, usually, they realise that it is hopeless: that there is no realistic hope of escape and that they might as well just accept their fate. Also, you'll notice that Young Joe shoots the victim the very instant they appear, not even giving them a quarter of a second to signal. Probably wise.
In the above string, a poster suggests the Mob has a way of ensuring that the target gets disposed of; I ask; how? The only check I can readily assume that Abe or his mob knows or thinks a Looper didn't close his loop is if they failed to return to cash in their king's ransom of gold in the expected timeframe. I excuse Seth for reasons I don't think I need to detail. But Joe's a different story. Joe's killpoint is a cornfield adjacent to an incinerator where it seems very much like it would have been an easy task to con his death out there. Maybe at the most from my estimations requiring a body or a mass of something combustible to dress up like one to fool a camera that might have been near the dump chute. All Joe would need to do to seal the con is get his older self to fork over the gold, trade it in, quit, then fly, run, or jump off to wherever-the-hell like it was established he was going to once he closed his loop with no one other than himselves being the wiser. What really sticks out to me in the whole mess is that no one accompanies either Joe or Seth on their Closing. This big, possibly future-afflicting rigamarole, the prevention of which seems like Abe's primary or most serious reason for being in the past. I don't think that's an oversight. Abe didn't seem like he had all that great of an organization going. Young Joe introduces him sniding about how impressive it wasn't he took over the city. It took a day for a single guy to show up at the farm house that was apparently on the other side of the field Joe was last seen at to look for him. Bruce Willis's Joe makes the claim to have killed everyone working for Abe, clearly some of it was offscreen, but if they were all really mobilizing from Abe's stronghold? How many scores of men could that have really been? It's a cinch to say Abe doesn't have all that much manpower, resources, or talent in his employ.
Abe may have brought one of the tracking devices the police uses in the future with him to the past. This way, he will always know if somebody from the future dies or not. Appointed killing time -> no signal -> problem to solve. Also, Abe's main purpose in the past probably was to ensure to hold contact with the future (somehow they have to know beforehand when someone is sent to the past) and coordinate the Loopers. (Young) Joe mentioned, creating his own mob was something Abe did in his spare time, if I remember correctly.
Well After reading transcripts of interviews mentioned here this does seem like a plausible rectification of that plothole. Even begrudgingly accepting that, I still see no good reason as to why Abe given his position and duties would willingly let Loopers go unchecked. The same scenarios the movie is premised around could have been with Joe's and Seth's loop runing. Seth swain by his favorite nursery rhyme kills his escort and lets Old Seth run, Old Joe just takes out whoever showed up with Young Joe. Not to mention that Abe seems unaware he sets up the possibility of letting loops run by telling Loopers in advance they'll be closing their loop. Sure their contracts terminate and all but really what's the difference between telling them in advance or just letting them find the gold and figure it out?
Maybe I missed something, but why did Cid kill Jesse? When he saw Cid he moved his gun away, but when Cid fell down the stairs all of a sudden it's Unstoppable Rage Gotta Kill That Guy? WTF, mate?
Cid killed Jesse because Cid is a very angry child with a child's impulse control. Look at how he treats Sara- he'll throw a tantrum and threaten her, then realize what he's done and apologize. After Cid kills Jesse, he runs off into the fields to cry, because he's just realized what he did.
I saw it as: "He got hurt, he lost control"; Jesse's death wasn't a deliberate act - or a local one, which is why Sara tackles and drags Joe out of the room.
Do you remember the last time somebody startled you as a practical joke or even just by accident, and for a moment you felt incredibly angry at that person? Give that to a child with an established rotten temper and psychic murder powers.
At the conclusion, Past!Joe kills himself to prevent his future self from killing the Rainmaker by not existing, obviously. But we've already seen that you can physically change the future self by changing the past self. Why doesn't Joe just shoot his own trigger finger or hand off, preventing Future!Joe from being able to shoot a gun? It's not exactly a good way to live, but at least he remains alive. Even better, since he and Cid clearly have a connection, he can stay with Cid and Sarah and make sure Cid does not grow up as Rainmaker.
Word Of God says that Future!Joe would've picked up the gun with his other hand. If the "alternate timelines but the universe jury-rigs duplicate entities theory" is correct, then deciding to stay with Cid wouldn't have erased Old!Joe.
All Joe had was a blunderbuss; a super-shotgun which never fails when fired withing range. There is no conceivable way he could have rendered himself unable to shoot other than suicide. Even assuming he put his hand over the barrel, he would have to be able to handle a gun with the other one, leaving it possible. anything silly like bracing the gun so it would fire while both hands were in the way would probably have left him looking like Seth, so a dignified heroic sacrifice was preferable.
Also, Joe's not exactly forward thinking. He's got a short few seconds to do something. Trying to jury rig a way to shoot both hands in that time span isn't something he'd think about (much less the original idea) nor is it something he actually had the time to do.
I get that it would make a boring movie, but why not just send the victims back to some prehistoric time? No worries about dealing with this group of thugs, no need to waste a pile of money. Is the mob only capable of sending people back exactly 30 years?
Since we don't know how the time machines work, it's probably just safe to assume that there's some sort of limit on the number of years you can send someone back. My way of thinking was that the time machine can always only send people 30 years into the past. So at 11:30 am on October 6th, 2074, if someone gets into the time machine they have to go back to 11:30 am on October 6th, 2044. Obviously this isn't confirmed at all, but it simply made sense to me. As for why this would be? Like you said, it'd be a boring movie, and a non-existent one to boot.
The movie pretty much confirms this since Old Joe arrives 'late' as a result of his struggle with the Syndicate goons in the future. Getting into some slightly harder sci-fi but time travel is theoretically possibly by manipulating space-time with gravitational forces. A time machine that manipulates space-time by a precise, set amount each time (30 years time and to a specific location) would be less complex than one that is capable of variable space-time manipulation.
There's actually a much bigger issue for that, which is that sending people that far back in time could wipe out the human race by the butterfly effect; at the very least, the government would start suspecting some illegal time traveling going on once Paleozoic human bones are discovered in random places. I mean, just think about the consequences long term on history if the people they send back survive long enough to propagate the species in the past (I know they didn't show any women being sent back, but there must have been some).
What I don't understand is, how do they solve the issue of space? We've seen that every looper does their killing in a different place, so there's not one designated spot for drop-offs. Old!Joe is captured in China and when he's sent back in time, he's magically in America again?
My reading was that time travel moves you back in time but not to a different physical location. As far as I could interpret the sets, the big time-travelling-cement-mixer thing is in the barn of the cornfield where, 30 years ago, young!Joe was blowing away his victims. In other words, old!Joe was captured in China but appears in past!America because they sent him from future!America.
Never mind the prehistoric time, if it is limited to 30 years, why not just send them to the middle of the ocean or the Arctic. Yes, you could argue that they could never be sure that they would actually die and the random chance of someone rescuing them. But I personally read it as they always make sure to send them to an abandoned area where they know no one appears. Plus, if they did the whole Cement Shoes thing combined with the ocean, that would solve that issue. But as the OP said, if they did that, then we wouldn't have a film.
The entire 'time travel murder' is a convenient facade for a money laundering operation. Considering what kind of people the mob hired to be Loopers, they would accept the 'murder and dispose of a body' story at face value. Considering the mob sent Abe back in time (causing irrevocable changes), they don't actually give a toss about changing their timeline. They just don't want their marks running away with precious metal strapped to their back, especially the estimated $3.6M in gold that is sent with a Closed Loop. The mob pay the Loopers current-day value for the metals, it accrues value for 30 years or potentially makes a tonne of money through 30 years of stock trading on precious metals, and is effectively without origin; the mafia's weakpoint has often been paper trails on their money.
What future does Abe come from and does it actually matter? It seems to me that there are at least three futures: the future of the Joe who is killed WITH a bag on his head by the Joe who goes to China afterwards; the future from the montage where Joe goes to China, gets married and gets sent back WITHOUT a bag on his head; and the future that happens after the main body of the movie. So did he come from one of these futures? Or did he just come back resigned to the fact that he would be changing that future irrevocably simply BY coming back?
It doesn't matter, he's changed the timeline simply by coming back. You can't actually Loop onto your own timeline.
On a similar note to the above, what about Seth and Rainmaker? I feel like we know all the possible futures for these characters, e.g. Cid either grows up to become the scary Rainmaker guy or he turns out okay, in one timeline Seth MUST have killed his future self and survived to go back again but in another he lets him go and ends up tortured disgustingly but I can't figure out how the futures overlap. Are the futures where Young Seth and Joe complete their loops in the same timeline? Did the old versions of themselves who they killed come from the same timeline? It seems like the Rainmaker is the factor that makes both Old Loopers come back and escape, rather than completing the loop normally, but we never see the timeline that the other Old Loopers (the ones who got killed) come from. No one who comes from the future says anything much about the other characters in their futures. Wow, this is a difficult film to describe.
Why would anyone use time travel to commit murder? So you have everyone in the world with nano technology in their bodies that keeps track of their movements. When they die, the authorities know immediately where they are. But... why would time travel circumvent this? If a central computer is keeping tabs on everyone, as soon as they disappeared from the grid, there would be huge red flags. Anyone in the vicinity would be automatic suspects. Put another way, how would the outcomes differ between time travel and depositing someone in a huge Faraday cage and incinerating their body?
The location tag only triggers upon death, not disappearance. To quote the director:
"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 they can’t kill people in the future. But if they send them back, that is not triggered."
Yes, I read the director's interview prior to my headscratcher. It still doesn't make sense. The location tag is only triggered at death? Then, how do the authorities establish any suspects? Obviously their response time is lousy, because the only time a murder occurs in the future (Joe's wife), the mafia goons still had enough time to transport Old Joe to the time machine. So, you kill someone, and run away. Who are the police going to suspect? Under the director's scenario, the mafia goons' location tags weren't sent because they're not dead. All the authorities know is where a dead body is located. That's hardly an impossible obstacle for the mafia. Like I said before, you stick someone in a Faraday cage, kill them there. Or bury someone in a coffin deep underground with a limited air supply and wait for them to asphyxiate. No murder signals escape. There are plenty of ways to circumvent the nanotechnology without resorting to time travel.
My guess is that the "death signal" is a constant signal, triggered upon death. It doesn't matter if you kill them in a Faraday cage, because as soon as the person dies, that "dead" switch kicks in and begins to broadcast their location (for up to two years after death). You would essentially have to keep the corpse in a Faraday cage for at least two years. If they die in the past, then the signal goes out but there's nothing to receive it. As for the why, the point isn't to allow the mafia to kill someone, it's to make someone "disappear", which is a similar but different goal. Sticking someone in a coffin underground? How do you know that would foil the advanced nanotechnology of the future?
Quite right, we don't know how it works (or even exactly what it does - they only talk about it briefly). All they really tell us is that it is good enough to stop people getting away with murder in the future, and that fits the story as we see it.
Also consider that having a body is a large step in having a successful case. Without a body, it's dramatically harder to prove murder. If nothing else, making it literally impossible to find the body means that even if the signal pops, there's a lot less the police can do because there's no evidence.
What was the doctor's goal when he gave Old Joe the numbers? Obviously he hadn't had in mind to use them to attack the Rainmaker head on (his birthday/birthplace wouldn't help in any way for that). So he had to hope that Old Joe was going to be sent back in time, sent back to the hometown of the Rainmaker (or at least not too far away), have any reason to kill the young Rainmaker, somehow escape execution as soon as he was sent back, have the numbers with him, when he is sent back, figure out what the numbers actually stand for, manage to find out who the Rainmaker is with the numbers and finally succeed in the execution? It somehow worked out, but his chances to hit the lottery jackpot would probably have been better.
He was clearly panicked and under attack when he called Old Joe. The doctor just wanted someone, anyone to know the numbers before he was killed, given that it was the only chance of identifying the Rainmaker.
Probably a lot of the older Loopers knew each other, and thus knew that the Rainmaker was closing the contracts. The Doctor presumably knew that Joe was a Looper, and therefore that if he survived, he would definitely be sent back. Maybe Joe was planning to do it anyway, but killing his wife is what made it personal.
Why did Old Seth signal to Young Seth? He knows very well what would happen if he runs - Young Seth gets horribly tortured, the effects of which Old Seth would definitely remember. If he had shut up, let himself be killed (after living a long life), young Seth would have gotten some money and presumably lived the rest of his 30 years in comfort.
Straightforward panic and desperation. He just doesn't want to die.
(Also, he may not know about the 'doc' and what he gets up to.)
He does seem to be taken by surprise by what happens to his body. The Mob really ought to advertise this aspect of their program better, in order to prevent people from running.
He could stuck in a repeating circle of loops himself; loop one, his older self has the not-actually-so-brilliant idea of humming to let his younger self know who he is so he can survive, loop two his younger self kills his horribly mutilated older self and either realizes then what happened or spends thirty years in a horribly paranoid state only to finally realize that must have been his punishment for running when he's shoved in the time machine with all his parts attached and either way chooses to dociley die to prevent it from happening, loop three he's never seen his own mutilated corpse as a warning and decides that this time he's not just gonna sit there and take it and comes up with the not-actually-so-brilliant idea of humming.
Simpler answer: Seth is an idiot.
Two different people, two different memories effectively until hopping back in time made them one and the same (at which point they start sharing stuff). Also, self-preservation, lack of forward thinking, and a host of other stuff. Just because you agreed to die by murder, doesn't mean you're going to go through with it.
He may not have been signaling his younger self at all. He may have just expected to die, and hummed a tune from his childhood to try to calm himself. When Young Seth didn't kill him, he just took his chances running, since (at that point), his memories didn't involve any torture. It's possible that Seth never closed his loop in any timeline, for that reason, and things just played out differently (Young Seth got away for a while, Old Seth got hit by a car and Abe just took his gold for screwing up, whatever).
Did it seem to anyone else like the scene where Abe asks for half of Joe's silver was supposed to be more cerebral than it actually played out being in every point it's referenced? Abe suspects Joe's hiding Seth. Abe asks for Joe's silver in exchange for letting Seth run. It's seemingly a bluff since everything about a running loop sounds like Abe can't let shit like that fly. But even if Joe wanted to call the bluff, or honestly sacrifice his silver for the sake of Seth; he can't. He can't because Seth was hiding in Joe's silver safe. Joe is incapable of accessing his silver, and still having Seth hidden. So Abe either divined that Joe hid Seth with his silver; or just underestimated him, assumed Joe was a dirtbag without any sense of comradery, and lucked into a lockout. I polled my group of friends watching the movie; and they didn't consider any of this. They just assumed Joe was a greedy dirtbag, and that the finale was an asspull of a character moment citing this scene as proof of it.
I'd put that in the Fridge section, because that is quite brilliant.
Another thing that bothers me about Joe's savings: Joe hesitated, but finally gave up his best friend to keep his silver. And five minutes later he offered it to his regular hooker for no real reason?
Well as sounded out here; Joe really didn't have the choice to hand over his silver instead of Seth. But at the time he was clearly feeling guilty over the whole mess. The notion that he had just given up his best friend to be mutilated and tortured for a free bang probably didn't help.
It's possibly a reference to the Schrödinger's cat thought experiment. In one possible time line, Joe gives up Seth (and he dies). In another, he doesn't and he lives. But until that happens, Seth is neither.
Are the authorities in 2044 aware of the concept of Loopers? They don't exactly seem to secretive about it (Joe talks about it with Suzie, and doesn't seem shocked out of his mind that Sara knows about it), but even though each Looper's victims appear on the same place every time, the police never show up. Or is there some loophole that makes it technically not illegal to kill a time traveler?
Probably just plain old bought off. You can see police cars roll up to the club as they gather the Gat Men, which I took to meaning the police are in the pocket of the mob.
When Young Joe and Sarah learn that Old Joe is about to kill two other children and then come for her son, why aren't they doing something? Why aren't they calling the police or warning the other two marks, why isn't Sarah taking Sid and getting the hell away, what's wrong with these people?!
They found out he was killing children just as he got his first victim. Old Joe was caught on the second, and until you asked that question, it wasn't a hundred percent clear why. It's quite possible that they did indeed tell someone.
No, they didn't call anyone. Because they didn't know where Old Joe was going, other than that it's somewhere in the state. Old Joe gets caught because Kid Blue followed him there while he was scoping the place out.
Young Joe wasn't shocked out of his mind that Sara knew about Loopers, but he was at least a little surprised, and I saw it as one of the first clues to her Dark and Troubled Past.
Cid not being the Rainmaker more or less invalidates the whole movie and makes the whole exercise pointless, so yes, he really was.
Couldn't Young Joe just have blown his hands off to stop Old Joe from killing Cid in the climax? It worked in the scene with Old Seth losing body parts when his past self was being amputated by the mob.
Commented on by the director. Blowing off one hand leaves Young Joe bleeding out and Old Joe to just pick up his gun in the offhand. Shooting off both hands would require his teeth which, while cool, wouldn't be practical.
Already discussed further up, please read the headscratchers pages before adding new ones.
When you think about it, the premise is an unsolvable paradox: The loopers don't quit until their future selves are sent back, but their future selves are only sent back after they've quit. So ... how do the future selves appear in the first place?
That's not how it works at all. We're shown what happens—the Looper retires, then does whatever the hell he wants for the next 30 years, then they find him and bring him back.
If murder in the future is so impossible that they have to send people back in time to avoid the consequences, then what about Old!Joe's wife?
This one was also answered by the director—those guys just plain screwed up, and didn't get away with it.
Old!Joe kills his future self (let's call him Older!Joe), lives for 30 years, marries, then he gets caught and his wife is killed, prompting him to fight off the mob goons and go to the past by himself, knocking out Young!Joe before he kills him. Fine. But why didn't Older!Joe resist, too? Was his wife not killed? And if so, what made things different for him in his timeline?
Potential multiple timelines. It's possible that there's a timeline where his wife doesn't get shot, and thus Old!Joe just sort of gives up and peaceably goes along; that's the Old!Joe that shows up bound and with his hood on. Or, specifically because of the past being fuzzy and changeable, Old!Joe's wife always got shot but he was so depressed and stunned that he didn't think to fight back until he remembered "Wait, when I closed my own loop, the arrival was late. What if it was late because I fought back? Maybe I've got a chance against these guys." In one timeline he fights back and loses quickly, thus allowing them to bind him, hood him, and send him back only a little late; Young!Joe shoots himself, gets his payday, and retires. In the other timeline he beats the crap out of those guys, gets in himself, and shows up quite a bit late and free.
Or how about this: the loop was just now being "set up" in Older!Joe's loop. The first time around, in other words, in the Older!Joe loop, he had never killed himself, it just wasn't a part of his timeline. When he's sent back in time, this means Old!Joe can now acquire the Gold that Older!Joe never had. This enables him to live under the circumstances that allow him to change the loop.
Someone in fridge proposed this: Older!Joe becomes a looper and one day kills his future self, collects his gold, and goes to FRANCE like he intended, creating a stable time loop. Then Seth botches the closing of his own loop, and so the scene where Abe has Joe in his office and convinces him to go to China instead happens. Old!Joe kills Older!Joe and goes to China, meets his wife, and finds a reason to fight. Old!Joe struggles and goes back in time, knocking out Young!Joe and starting the real plot of the movie.
Just a thought here, and not so much a headscratcher as it can be explained by "Loopers aren't the most forward-thinking sorts", but here's how Old!Joe could have saved himself a lot of problems. Take one of the guys he knocked out, put the shirt and hood on him, tie up his hands, stick him in the time machine with the gold strapped to his back, and let Young!Joe kill him and think he's closed his own loop. Wait even just a half hour or so, and go back after Young!Joe already left, and go about his business with no one the wiser. Of course this assumes that Abe doesn't have a tracking device for the implants or whatever future people have, but it would have still given Old!Joe a much better head start.
Old!Joe probably didn't know how to operate the time machine, so his only choice was to hop in and push the start button or wait for someone to show up looking what went wrong.
The part when Young!Joe meets Sarah, and forsuing headaches makes Old!Joe remember her face kind of screams to me that at that particular moment the possibility that Young!Joe would instead fall in love with Sarah instead of Nameless Chinese Girl(and therefore lowering the chances that rainmaker comes into existence) is very possible. It most likely make a boring movie but Young!Joe was already on the love path as it was, so wouldn't it make more sense to spend more time with Cid and Sarah therefore increasing the chances that at the end the Old!Joe vanishes the reason he went to past technically doesn't exist anymore.
We've no evidence any of that would have happened, and it depends on Young Joe somehow knowing for certain that it would happen.
What is the point of closing the loop, in the first place? If the guy isn't working for you now, and hasn't been for 30 years, why does he have to be killed 30 years down the road. Was it all just a vengeance thing from the Rainmaker, or did it serve some other purpose to the mob bosses?
Could be seen as cleaning up loose ends. Could be vengeance. Could just be that they decided it was the best way to accomplish both their money/precious metal laundering goals and run their murder operations... cleaning up old murderers means it's less likely the guy's ever caught by the cops and traced to them.
Think about it both ways. Instead of it being a 30 year retirement after you close your loop, your loop gets closed because in 30 years time, you did something to piss off the Syndicate. Remember, Young Joe notices a sharp increase in Closed Loops, because 30 years in the future the Rainmaker has taken over and is rounding all the Loopers up to be killed. A lot of Loopers may not even get 30 years, but the Syndicate lies to make their 'retirement' sound like a fair deal. Particularly good Loopers like Joe might only get their fair 30 years because the Syndicate never has a reason to murder them, but a percieved paradox demands they must be sent back regardless.