Looper: a review

Joseph Gordon Levitt plays a young Bruce Willis in this wacky sci-fi adventure.  Also -- while I was in the movie theater, there was an earthquake that I mistook for quality special effects.  So, it was pretty engrossing.  Everything else is spoilers, and, therefore, below the fold.

There was a lot in this movie to talk about.  First of all:  It was sad.  Oh my crap, it was so freaking sad.  Everything about this movie was sad. No one in this movie isn't living in poverty, misery or paranoia.  Even the douchiest, most awful character, Kid Blue, is just pathetically heartbreaking to watch.  Both times it looked like he died -- the time he just got shot, and the time he got blasted off a jet bike, I was thankful -- because it was obvious he wasn't going to make anything better for himself.  He was just going to keep making things worse for his boss, disappointing him more deeply and spiraling into deeper misery.

Seth -- watching Old Seth get dragged back in by incrementally worsening threats -- was sickening.  At first, it was just horrifyingly painful to watch that man suffer continual existential assault on his body.  Then I realized that I wanted them to finish killing him before he got there, because if he makes it that means Seth has to live long enough to be that person.  30 years, that poor kid has to suffer before they find him and send him back.  It occurs to me now, he might have run back not just because he wanted them to stop, but because they were deepening with each violation of Seth's body his lifelong desire to keep living.  By the time he made it to the door and got shot, he probably wanted it.

I really thought, when I saw the commercials for this movie, that Joe and himself were going to work together to save their life.  It was obvious pretty quickly that wasn't going to happen, but I was still hoping, for a long time.  It hurt more every scene to see old Joe committing those unthinkable acts out of a desperate desire to save his wife's life.

Then there's the kid.  Cid.  Cid is a stupidly powerful telekinetic, and (at least in his childhood) his morality is incredibly harsh: "She should die, because she's a liar."  As much as I wanted everything to be better for the people in this movie -- I wanted young Joe to get to stay with Sara and help raise Cid into a better kid, or I wanted old Joe to finish the job, so that the monster the kid would turn into never happened, I wanted anything to happen that would make the horribleness go away (and, thankfully, something did).

More than anything else, though, I wanted Cid to get a free ride at a Liberal Arts school when he's old enough to go to college.  Louder than any other thought in my head, I couldn't stop thinking, This is what a liberal arts degree is for.  Anyone with this much power needs a more sophisticated view of right and wrong.  Anyone with this much power needs to practice empathy, embrace ambiguity and grow comfortable with parallel competing narratives.

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Then, of course, there's the incredibly obvious, and maybe even intentional, metaphorical point of the movie: debt. Loopers are kids in a shitty position, who need money to get some security.  They take the money from whoever will give it to them, promise to pay it back some time in the future -- that future them isn't really them, anyway.  That's someone else's problem.  They spend that money poorly, but they have a lot of it, and they get to live and party and all they have to do is occasionally participate in perpetuating a horrible, violent, and ultimately self-destructive industry.

Living in the shitty economy I live in, I can imagine being a Looper.  Especially if I didn't have a therapist, or a prescription -- how deep would I have to hit in depression before I'd be thrilled for the chance to cut my future down to 30 years, and make that 30 years comfortable and well-funded?  Because I'm pretty sure I've been that deep before.  I just didn't happen to know any mob bosses at the time.

Like I said, everything about this movie is sad.