“Time travel has not yet been invented, but thirty years from now it will have been.”
Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is an assassin. In 2044 he works for a crime boss named Abe (Jeff Daniels). He kills people from the future. In 2074 time travel is invented and immediately outlawed. Criminal agencies have a problem in the future getting rid of victims. They use time travel to send these people back in time where assassins kill them and dispose of their bodies. These assassins are called “loopers”. The victims are hooded and have silver bars taped to their backs. Once the victim is dead the looper takes his silver and disposes of the body. Abe is from the future too. He recruited the assassins.
To protect the crime syndicate from being connected to the killings the final victim sent back in time is the killer from the future. The assassin kills his own future self. The future self is identified by having gold bars strapped to him instead of silver ones. Once an assassin kills his future self he is considered retired. This is known as closing the loop.
Seth (Paul Dano) is a looper who did not kill his future self. Future old Seth (Frank Brennan) tells young Seth about a man in the future called the Rainmaker who is taking over and closing all the loops. Young Seth goes to Joe for help. Joe ends up giving Seth up. Joe’s next victim is his older future self. He kills him and goes on with his retirement. Old Joe (Bruce Willis) sends himself back in time and changes his own timeline by getting away from young Joe before he can be killed. Now old Joe and new Joe are in the same timeline in 2044.
Old Joe’s wife (Qing Xu) was killed when he was taken in to be sent back in time. Old Joe researches this Rainmaker and finds out that there were three babies born at the time the Rainmaker was born. In 2044 they are now 5. He intends on killing all three kids to change the timeline and bring his wife back to life. Old Joe and young Joe meet up at a diner. Old Joe explains to young Joe about the Rainmaker coming out of nowhere and taking over. Old Joe has a map with three different addresses on it. He says he’s going to find the Rainmaker and kill him. When Abe’s men, led by Kid Blue (Noah Segan), storm the diner both Joe’s escape. Young Joe manages to grab a piece of the map with one of the addresses circled. Young Joe goes to the address to wait for old Joe to show up.
“Looper” was released in 2012 and was directed by Rian Johnson. It is an American science fiction movie. Granted there are issues with the time travel theory of the movie but it is a still a fun movie to watch. I don’t have a problem with the time travel aspects not conforming to physics or scientific theory. It’s fiction. Technically time travel isn’t possible anyway so who cares if the plot uses a time machine, hypnosis or a hot tub or if the movie has paradoxes galore. Ignore the science and just enjoy the movie.
In talking about the time travel aspect of “Looper” Rian Johnson said: “Even though it's a time-travel movie, the pleasure of it doesn't come from the mass of time travel. It's not a film like Primer, for instance, where the big part of the enjoyment is kind of working out all the intricacies of it. For Looper, I very much wanted it to be a more character-based movie that is more about how these characters dealt with the situation time travel has brought about. So the biggest challenge was figuring out how to not spend the whole movie explaining the rules and figure out how to put it out there in a way that made sense on some intuitive level for the audience; then get past it and deal with the real meat of the story.”
Assuming for a moment that time travel is possible the physics of “Looper’s” plot doesn’t conform because it incorporates more than one paradox. For the most part it coincides with the “Let’s Kill Hitler” paradox. For old Joe, going back in time to kill the Rainmaker would erase the reason for Joe to go back in time to kill the Rainmaker. There also seem to be some “Grandfather” paradox issues as well. Old Joe goes back in time to try to influence young Joe. Traveling back in time to influence young Joe would mean that old Joe would not have been in the position to need to come back in time to either influence Young Joe or to kill the Rainmaker.
***SPOILER “The Looper Paradox”. “Looper” adds a new wrinkle to the paradox situation. Young Joe believes that he needs to kill himself to stop Old Joe from coming back in time to kill the young Cid. If young Joe does kill himself there would be no Old Joe to come back and cause the situation that made Sid become the Rainmaker and create the circumstance to cause Old Joe to come back in time. It’s similar to the Grandfather paradox but slightly advanced. This is why Rain Johnson relied more on the story than on the time travel aspect.***
And we haven’t even scratched the surface of meeting oneself and its impact on the space time continuum or its impact on physics in general.