6 Reasons Why Looper Was The Most Disappointing Film Of 2012

Looper Banner poster
Posted on: December 31st, 2012

By | Follow on Twitter


There was so much to be excited about when it came to Looper. One; it was directed by Rian Johnson (Brick, The Brothers Bloom). Two: It re-teamed Johnson with Joseph Gordon-Levitt, an actor who rarely misses and who Johnson had already gotten a great performance from when they worked together on Brick. Three; it’s a time travel movie that revolves around a hitman (who specialises in killing people from the future) having to kill a future version of himself. Four; The future version of himself (who is hell bent on revenge) is played by none other than Bruce Willis.


looper movie review

If you’re really a younger me, finish this sentence “Yipikaye mother……”


Honestly, when I read all that I’m pretty sure I let out a Homer Simpson-esque girly scream and promptly peed myself a little. As time went on and I learned more about the plot (Joseph Gordon-Levitt gets involved in deadly game of ‘Cat and Mouse’ with an older version of himself) and the supporting cast who would be fleshing out the film (including Emily Blunt, Paul Dano and one of the most versatile actors around, Garret Dillahunt) my excitement built.

So it was a massive disappointment for me when I finally got to see the movie and was left thoroughly underwhelmed. I’ll admit that I maybe allowed myself to be caught up in the hype-machine, so my expectations were higher going in than they should have been. Also, I’ll admit that there is quite a lot to like about the film, the themes of family, love, redemption and (in Willis’ case especially) revenge all play out well, so I can understand why it got better reviews than I thought it deserved and can at least appreciate what Johnson was going for, even if I thought he missed the mark completely.

Lastly, writing Time Travel is a tricky business (and I’ll get into that later) so there was always going to be issues with that. I just hadn’t banked on the film being so full of issues that it ruined a lot of the fun. In fact, it’s so confusing that I had to enlist the help of fellow Bad Haven writer/Science uber-geek Susie McBeth just to help me write about the time travel mechanics of this film in a coherent fashion. She wasn’t my first choice though, I did try to ask Prof Brian Cox and Stephen Hawking about the time travel mechanics in the film but they weren’t very helpful. Instead of answering any of my questions they just kept shouting at me and asking me how I got into their homes!

Brian Cox and stephen Hawking

We know you have alot of questions but please leave… or we’ll release the hounds!


Anyway, here’s my reasons for why I felt Looper was the biggest disappointment of 2012.


Back To The Future


Time Travel Paradox-Old Joe

OK, I’m going to say here and now that when it comes to time travel my knowledge of theoretical science is pretty limited and it is also a much debated theory, so I can only speak for myself here, and if you disagree then that’s fine. In Looper, I think there were only one of two ways the time travel could work. Either there is one continuous timeline and so Bruce Willis has lived all this before and can therefore be affected by what happens to Levitt. Or Bruce Willis is from an alternate future (the multiverse theory, which means that when time travel occurs and someone goes back and changes are made an alternate timeline is established. There are apparently an infinite number of alternate timelines/multiverses), which means he can exist safe in the knowledge that nothing that happens to Levitt’s Joe can affect him.

The problem I have is that they try to do both. Bruce Willis’ Joe comes from a separate time-line. Willis’ Joe killed the older version of himself and went on to live his life. Found love and redemption in the arms of a woman he loved (and who is caught in the crossfire when he is sent back in time). Escapes death at the hands of JGL and sets about getting revenge on a man called the Rainmaker (who he holds responsible for his wife’s death). Fine, except for the fact that even though Willis is his own separate man from Levitt, he slowly starts to remember Levitt’s memories and can be affected by things the younger Joe does (i.e. carving a name into his arm, which then appears on Willis’ arm).

This just doesn’t make sense. Basically, if it is a multiverse theory rather than a continuous timeline, old Joe’s presence in young Joe’s timeline would have no effect what so ever on young Joe. They could comfortable sit and chat for hours discussing what each of their respective alternate timelines are like and nothing that old Joe did would affect his own timeline, it would have no impact what so ever. Whereas if they were sharing a continuous timeline then when young Joe makes an emotional connection with and sympathy for the target of Old Joe’s revenge than the timeline would have been forever altered and the version of Old Joe visiting young Joe’s timeline would disappear and cease to exist.

It would be a paradox, both versions of the same self, taking completely different paths on a continuous timeline cannot exist. The reason for this being is that if young Joe continued down the new path he established he would never grow up to be Willis’ version of old Joe, therefore as soon as young Joe made that emotional connection and became a less selfish and better person old Joe would instantly cease to exist.


scanners head exploding

This is a pretty fair represention of how I felt after trying to figure all of this out


Sure, time travel is something you can play with, but for God’s sake, once you establish how the time travel of your story works, don’t then go and change the mechanics for a few clever (but ultimately pointless) gimmicks.


Here’s Looking At Me Kid


Looper Diner

Though I thought Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis were good in their roles, this issue comes down to miscasting. I never felt like they were playing the same role (which is kind of the whole point of the film). The two just aren’t similar enough to convince me that JGL will grow up to be Willis. Gordon-Levitt is already a full grown man so it’s almost laughable when they show Willis’ life through flashback and, in the space of a few years, his features change completely. The two just aren’t a good fit to play the same character and there’s not enough chin putty in the world to convince me otherwise.

They should have gone for actors who bear an uncanny resemblance already. Actors like Ben McKenzie for the younger Joe and Russell Crow for the older Joe. Sure, McKenzie’s still trying to wash the stink of The OC off himself (and doing a pretty good job considering his turn in cop drama Southland) but take a look at the two below and try to tell me that it doesn’t make more sense than Willis and Gordon-Levitt.

russell crowe-ben mckenzie

Tags: , , ,

Articles from around the web you may also enjoy:

Author Info

Dan is just a guy who worked in a video store and took the compliment/insult that he was like “Randal” from “Clerks” a little too literally. Thankfully Bad Haven has given him the chance to blurt out his internal monologues on nerd culture. Proclaiming his love for the things he likes (which include books, movies, games, comics) and utterly destroying the things he doesn’t (pretty much everything else). Dan is an editor, reviewer and feature writer for Bad Haven.

Read more by | Follow on Twitter

  • Thomas

    Disagree, loved the movie. Very few of these complaints actually stick, the cafe scene addressed the lion’s share of them and if you saw the movie, this just comes across as whiny

  • http://www.facebook.com/tue1971 Tue Sorensen

    Ha ha ha, you didn’t understand the movie! You’re stoopid!

  • Luke

    Time is present. All you humans think so linearly. Watch some Doctor Who or read Slaughterhouse-Five

  • jz_faqs@hotmail.com

    And this movie was 1 of biggest blockbuster in sci-fi movie… how can u say its a worst movie.. Either there is no sense wat u have written abt ur opinion… Fu++k Off…

  • jz_faqs@hotmail.com

    I think u r the most biggest dissapointment ….

  • JAQ

    i thought the film was god awful i had to force myself to sit through it and i normaly love this sort of thing

  • Izaac

    ya ur dumb bud… Awesome movie u ruined for urself by nerding out way to hard… get a life

  • Chad Gomez

    The only part I agree with is the “Closing the Loop” part, because your right
    Just because Joe dies doesnt mean that sometime later in future the boy will become the Rainmaker. However, everything else can easily be explanied by some other movie fanatic like yourself that argues the movies plot DID make sense. How do you know that if there is two of the same person in the EXACT same year that what ever happens to the younger one effects the older one(regarding the Paul Dano slice scene lol). Who cares about time travel theories?! Thats what makes them theories!!! (idea not proven) And when the article said “there’s very little chance that the kid even is the Rainmaker” that was pretty dumb. They live in a world where some people have a telekenetic ability, but the most they can do is float a coin with their palm, THATS IT!!!! But then we see what this boy can do which is kill a man in mid-air, flip an entire truck, and levitate anything around him in a 20ft radius (the cornfield scene where he picks up his mom and BW) and taking from JGL reaction to all of it, THIS ISNT A COMMON TRAIT UPON OTHER TK’S. The story was trying to point out that no other TK has the ability to do the things that the Boy can, he is the most powerful TK. So that is my response to your article good sir.

  • http://www.facebook.com/braddscharping Bradd Scharping

    Is this the worst article of 2012, is a better question.

  • zdotADTR

    Are you kidding me? This movie was fantastic!! I thought Prometheus was the biggest disappointment of 2012.

  • http://www.facebook.com/mathias.vandecasteele Mathias Vandecasteele

    I enjoyed Looper, but I agree, if you start nitpicking you can pretty
    much destroy a movie like Amour (2012) by Haneke. The most disappointing
    movie from 2012 IS Prometheus, without any doubt. Looper is quite
    original, time travelling is science-FICTION and a movie with 94% on
    Rotten Tomatoes can’t be THAT bad.

  • pipo

    I would said that the biggest dissapointment of 2012 was, prometheus… it had so much potential and the final product was such a piece of crap..

  • aden khan

    your completely WRONG!!!!!!!

  • BoredStiff

    What a moronic review.You didn’t enjoy the movie because of a fact you learned few days after watching it.A fact someone else had to explain to you.Couldn’t you just say the pacing was bad?Or the actors?Nope you had to latch on the time travel thing.Hell,if you reviewed Star Wars you’d probably bitch about lightsabers not being possible with our current understanding of science which brings me to another point.Stop using logic to explain science.Science disregards faulty human logic.

    I honestly think you thought you were going to see the movie and get a scientific and real explanation to time travel simply because the movie had a big name cast.

  • MonkeyFascist

    Of course it’s not going to be enjoyable if you have to rip the movie apart and nitpick about every little thing that you didn’t like. It really seems like you are stretching just to make this movie look like it is worst than it is. Sure there’s problems with the film…minor problems that don’t really break it…do little to make it not an enjoyable film. It certainly didn’t turn out the way I was given the impression it would but it was still an enjoyable watch. If you can write a better film that includes all the ideas and concepts that this film did, I am sure Hollywood would like you to try.

  • Orion Industries

    Looper was a disappointing movie. I AGREE

    • MonkeyFascist

      I am glad that it’s no longer a disappointing movie for you.

  • Hatorian

    Agree it was very disappointing. Did not get to watch it until DVD so I read all the hype. I bought it based off the hype. Should have just rented it. Very frustrating.

    • MonkeyFascist

      Nice to see that it’s no longer very disappointing.

  • herman

    I wouldn’t say it was biggest disappointment of 2012, but it was completely ridiculous. As soon as telekinesis came into the picture the movie just started going downhill.

    • MonkeyFascist

      It was the biggest disappointment of 2012? Did some other movie come around that took it’s place?

    • http://www.facebook.com/Fix06 Mark McCann

      Let it be known before I begin that I like Rian Johnson, loved Loopers cast and had a massive Nerd Boner going the minute this whole thing was announced.

      So when I saw Looper I found that it wasn’t the worst movie I’ve ever seen, but an inconsistent movie that sags, deflates before the hype and is – as this article has pointed out – riven with time travel plot holes.

      Now these might not have been such a problem if it weren’t for the fact that the film by itself is pretty poor in light of it’s obvious advantages. But since it was, making the guff time travel malarkey even more glaringly obvious, these flaws become a legitimate critiquing point.

      Like I say, it wasn’t the worst movie. But it was far from a good one. And regards all this nit picking, picking at something makes for a good bit of debate I find. It’s nice when people stand for something or like Chuck D says; you’ll fall for anything :)

  • Nate

    Wow. This writer is a dork. Just enjoy the movie without disecting every scene. Uncle Joey from Full House was awesome as the present bad guy leader from the future. When the escaped future looper starts losing body parts, awesome as well.
    Next we’ll be hearing how unrealistic “The Avengers” was…

    • MonkeyFascist

      Blasphemy! Uncle Joey from Fool House? I think you mean Jeff Daniels. I do agree with your sentiment however.