Needless to say, this feature is packed deep with SPOILERS, so if you haven't seen Looper, turn back now and click on another one of our fine articles.
Many time travel conversations have posed a particular scenario to those involved: going back in time to kill Adolph Hitler so World War II and the Holocaust never happen. Feel free to substitute any other tyrant and atrocities, but the point is that if you were able to travel back in time, would you do whatever necessary to prevent said tyrant from ever committing those atrocities? In 2012, the Rian Johnson-helmed Looper set up that situation when a retired assassin named Joe (played by Bruce Willis) traveled back 30 years to kill a child who would eventually grow up to be a ruthless criminal boss known only as the Rainmaker. This mission, unsurprisingly, complicates his younger self's (played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt) life, leading to a lot of shooting, cursing and explosions.
By the time Looper ended, it looked like Young Joe was successful in preventing the Rainmaker's rise to power. However, time travel is a complicated subject. In some tales, going back in time and changing certain events is an easy feat. In other cases, changing the past doesn't always mean that the future is significantly altered. So what's the deal with Looper? Is the future brighter because the Rainmaker will never be "born," or will the young boy (played by Pierce Gagnon) still grow up to be a telekinetic monster? That's what this features aims to determine. To start, let's recap what happened in the movie...
As young Seth (played by Paul Dano) learned from his older self, 30 years into the Looper world's future, the Rainmaker has seized power away from the five major bosses. This makes him the most powerful criminal in the county (if not the entire country), both in terms of his telekinetic abilities and stature. However, that isn't enough for the Rainmaker, as he's also closing out all the loops, i.e. killing every retired assassin, no matter what. Unfortunately for Old Joe, that resulted in his wife being gunned down when he was taken. Granted, he expected to be killed eventually because his loop closed, but he didn't think his wife would be lost in the process. Desperate to prevent the only person he ever loved from meeting her cruel fate, he overpowered his kidnappers and went back 30 years to kill the Rainmaker as a child, time travel repercussions be damned.
Old Joe successfully arrived back in the present time period, and after doing his best to make sure his younger self wouldn't interfere, he set out to kill all the children in that city with the Rainmaker's birthday to cover his bases. Meanwhile, young Joe, having seized a portion of Old Joe's map, traveled to the farm where Cid, the young Rainmaker, was being raised by his mother, Sara (played by Emily Blunt). While watching over them, Joe not only learned about Sara's past and her TK ability (something that approximately 10% of the population has at by this point history), but also saw firsthand how Cid is the most powerful TK the world has ever known. This explains how he's able to wipe out all his competition in the future; he just tears them apart with his mind.
Eventually Old Joe made his way to the farm, and Young Joe and Sara did their best to protect Cid, whose jaw is grazed by a bullet during the attack. This struggle culminates with Sara willing to sacrifice herself so her son can escape and Young Joe desperately trying to stop his older self, but unable to get close enough due to his injured leg. He also saw in his mind that Sara dying would set Cid on a path of angriness and loneliness. The Rainmaker's path, a circle going round and round. Left with no other choice, Young Joe shot himself with his blunderbuss, thereby wiping Old Joe from existence and saving both Sara and Cid. Since all the members of Abe's (played by Jeff Daniels) gang were also eliminated by Old Joe, that means that the mother and her son will get to live their lives in peace without any fear of retribution.
Mission accomplished. Right? Read on...