The Mixed Magic of “Looper” (SPOILERS)

Looper is an elegant, beautifully rendered time travel story with quality performances and cool action sequences…completely hijacked in its second half by an evil kid who talks like a 50-year-old man.

By Nathan Pensky at 9:17 am Fri, Oct 12, 2012

Looper is an elegant, beautifully rendered time travel story with quality performances and cool action sequences…completely hijacked in its second half by an evil kid who talks like a 50-year-old man.

To be fair, I was expecting a lot from “Looper”. I’m a big fan of time travel movies, and I was more than ready for writer/director Rian Johnson, whose noir update “Brick” I absolutely adored, to offer an equally clever Science Fiction film. So to watch something as unique as the first half of “Looper” be ruined in the second was more than a little upsetting.

Worse, the problems with the film were straight-forward. This was no amorphous conundrum floating in the back of my mind as I filed out the movie theater; I knew exactly what was wrong as soon as the credits rolled. The kid needed to be older, and all the telekinesis nonsense should have been thrown out the window.

Concerning the first issue, there’s no reason why on God’s green earth a toddler should be trading dialogue with Joseph Gordon-Levitt. That’s just bizarre.

How sad to see that tired old stock horror movie trope “the evil child” trotted out, followed closely by its dim-witted cousin “the unknowable genius”. The former deals in the visual expectations of the audience regarding children, as in “Why does that cute kid have that evil look on his face? And why does the lighting and score seem to position him as a villain? He’s a kid! He can’t be evil! That’s nutty!” The “unknowable genius” trope, on the other hand, only works well in stories set in a realistic world, where a clearly defined knowledge schema is well established before the “genius character” wildly surpasses it. Having a “genius character” in a science fiction setting, where time travel is possible, is no more or less interesting (though a lot more distracting) than the sudden appearance of flying cars in the third act.

As for the second complaint, that takes a bit of explaining.

Time travel is one of the classic Science Fiction sub-genres that start to break into Fantasy territory, where tech gadgetry pushes into the realm of magic. And as most Fantasy devotees will attest, magic needs rules. However, what isn’t talked about as much, or not as explicitly, is that Fantasy stories not only must follow rules mythologically, but the aesthetic forms presenting that mythology must cohere to their content.

Typically time travel stories have a baseline level of conflict built into them. The time-travelling characters are practical-minded scientists who don’t consider the metaphysical underpinnings of subverting the normal experience of time. The classic illustration of the problem goes, “What would happen if you travelled back in time and killed your own grandfather?” Barring parallel universes -- which, as “LOST” showed us, make for terrible storytelling -- these metaphysical quandaries thematically distinguish between what science can do and what it should do. What comes of the exercise is that one shouldn’t trifle with time, that there are some things better left alone. But in the process of learning that lesson, a lot of fun adventures happen, where the characters try to get back to where (and when) they once belonged.

But what’s important about all this is that time travelling characters have very little agency. They have rebelled against the natural order, and, finding that order to be bigger than them, they need to set things right.

But stories with telekinesis need a different aesthetic approach. Stories involving telekinetic characters, who are typically mousy oddballs with unwanted powers, live on the complete opposite side on the “character agency” spectrum. Where time travel characters race against the clock, finding along the way that they must adhere to the natural order, telekinetic characters are, by definition, manipulating that order. Character-wise, they are coming of age and breaking out of classical forms, where time travellers are returning home to embrace classical forms.

In other words, as Fantasy tropes go, time travel and telekinesis are very different animals.

In the case of “Looper,” telekinesis being a more “agented” sort of magic, the creepy Rainmaker kid functions as an awful Deus Ex Machina to the other characters dealing with their typical time travel problems. Young Joe needs to kill his future self and set the time continuum right again? No problem. The Rainmaker will distract the audience from these tensions of setting and character by conjuring a hurricane out of nowhere and making stuff float for a while.

And yet it’s important to note that this is an aesthetic distinction, not a mythological one. In one sense, the Rainmaker character doesn’t serve as a Deus Ex Machina at all. Plot-wise, he’s the one who needs saving after all. Mythologically, “Looper” goes to great pains in following its own rules, and that includes the telekinesis. Time travel and telekinesis don’t really intersect but run parallel, each with their own rules and their own sets of difficulties.

Rather, the flaw that I mean has more to do with tone than plot. Because tonally the telekinesis and time travel don’t run parallel at all, but intersect often and clumsily. Once telekinesis is introduced as a serious force in the story, all the carefully crafted tensions inherent to the time travel aesthetic are (literally) exploded. Once the audience sees a kid who can overturn a truck with his mind, watching a man disappear to a different timeline seems hollow and pointless, a plot contrivance.

Previously: An incredibly spoiler-filled take on Looper's MacGuffin (SPOILERS)

Published 9:17 am Fri, Oct 12, 2012

74 Responses to “The Mixed Magic of “Looper” (SPOILERS)”

  1. Rick. says:

    Also disagree. I loved the telekinesis bit and it surprised me that it ended up being such a huge part of the movie. I was more troubled by the usual time travel movie problems but in the end, the filmmakers embrace of those problems made it fun.

  2. bo_burger says:

    Geesh – that first sentence is a pretty big spoiler. At least give people a chance to know if this is a spoiler-laced article.
    Here’s  a Q&A with the director regarding some known issues with the film.  Kind of cop-out answers for the most part:
    http://www.slashfilm.com/ten-mysteries-in-looper-explained-by-director-rian-johnson/

  3. Jorpho says:

    Oi! Don’t you think this post deserves to have SPOILERS stamped all over it a few times in bold, much like that last post linked at the end?

    While you mention “Brick”, I find it much easier to compare “Looper” to “The Brothers Bloom”: both get off to a promising start but end up as largely empty and insubstantial exercises.  “The Brothers Bloom” did have a lot of really interesting stuff left on the cutting-room floor, however, which rather makes me wonder if the same thing happened here.

  4. Andrew Roach says:

    Too each his own, I guess. I thought it was a fantastic movie. 

  5. Speaking of tropes, I think your review is a perfect example of the Straw Critic trope.

    “The guy who is incapable of understanding True Art, and judges it harshly based on its stubborn failure to hold to any conventional formal scheme.”

    http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/StrawCritic

  6. kitfisk says:

    Did I miss the part of the movie where Jeff Daniels, after putting the hammer to the young ganster doofus, lifts up his hand to reveal a new scar?

    • Dan Hibiki says:

       Yeah I don’t think that happened in the movie.

    • James Kimbell says:

       I kept thinking that was gonna happen, but it never did. They played it like a father/son relationship, and thematically it would have made sense for the gat man to be Young Jeff Daniels – but it wouldn’t have made sense logically. For example, why would he keep sending himself into dangerous situations?

  7. kitfisk says:

    Also, they forgot to show the scene at the end, where time travel becomes uninvented and disappears with a pop, once the Rainmaker no longer has to invent time travel to save his mother.

  8. wizardru says:

    The group I saw the movie with felt exactly the opposite.  We thought the 90 degree turn was an unexpected bonus, as the film avoided cliche and went in a totally different direction, story-wise.  Nathan’s complaint appears to be that this movie didn’t conform to his requirements for what a time-travel movie are supposed to be in his mind.  That’s fine for him, but we enjoyed it.

  9. Ted Lemon says:

    I thought the movie was great, and the way they set up the telekinesis thing was clever—at the beginning it seemed like a weird side thing, and suddenly it turned into a giant callback.

    No, the problem with this movie wasn’t the telekinesis.   It was that how paradoxes work wasn’t consistent—in the beginning of the movie, a paradox was resolved by wiping out the timeline that led to it; at the end of the movie, Gordon-Levitt creates a paradox which doesn’t wipe out its own timeline, and in so doing, saves the day.

    I would like to hear the writer’s logic here—that aspect of the film didn’t make any sense to me.

    • Itsumishi says:

      I think it was fairly obvious that TK was going to have some big impact pretty early on, gun in the first act and all of that.

    • This was precisely my problem with the film. I enjoyed the entire movie greatly right up until this meaningless ending. Then I sat through the credits hoping that they would have dropped in the two second clip of Gordon-Levitt holding the blunderbuss, then looking at his watch. That would have at least shown me that the writers weren’t morons who were unable to even follow their own rules.

  10. Dan Hibiki says:

    Why does Telekinesis have to set a tone? It’s not a colour tint or a dutch angle.

    Carrie, Starwars, X-Men, Stalker…  they couldn’t have a wider verity of  aesthetic approach and context and in Looper it fits perfectly well with the rest of the wibbely wabbaly time travel stuff.

  11. dbergen says:

    I was pretty bothered by the whole “if I cut myself now then the future me sees a scar appear out of nowhere” if that is the case and changes are instantly apparent on the future self then are we really to believe that NOTHING is going to happen to the younger self for the rest of his life that will make any change whatsoever on the older?

    Also, would it not have achieved the same result to just shot your hand off rather than kill yourself?

    A lot of this movie made no sense.

    • Dan Hibiki says:

       he’s got two hands, and future him wouldn’t exactly feel the pain so at best it would stall him for a few seconds.

    • Jeff Scott says:

      It’s a time travel movie. They never really do make much sense if you dig too much into them.  Like that first Looper who unmasked himself, why were the Gat men even bothering to draw him in?  Just kill the young version and poof, problem resolved. 

      • skyfaller says:

        One proposal I’ve heard that might explain this is if the old looper still had the gold on him when he ran away from his younger self. If they just shoot the young looper, either the gold disappears, or when the old looper vanishes it falls to the ground in some unknown location and they have to go looking for it.

        • Jeff Scott says:

          So the future mob spares no expense to send people back in time to have them executed but the present mob has to risk their entire operation just for a few bricks of gold?   My first thought is that the future mob has time travel, TIME TRAVEL, money is no object, on the other hand, I suppose that before time travel was outlawed it must have played havoc with the world, maybe the economy is completely messed up, but on the gripping hand the authorities in the future are so controlling that they have nanostuff in everyone…

          Damnit, now you are making me dig into the movie too much.  I enjoyed the movie too. 

    • hypnosifl says:

      I was pretty bothered by the whole “if I cut myself now then the future me sees a scar appear out of nowhere” if that is the case and changes are instantly apparent on the future self then are we really to believe that NOTHING is going to happen to the younger self for the rest of his life that will make any change whatsoever on the older?

      I think this type of time travel really puts the story squarely in “fantasy” territory (not a criticism, just an observation about the type of expectations we should bring to the story), it makes very little sense if you think too much about how the rules work. For example, why would cutting a person change the appearance of their future self’s body, but not change the exact position and pose they happen to be in X years later (not to mention their choice of clothes)? Surely that difference in their history would lead to all sorts of subtle differences in the precise timing of how they move around over subsequent years, so that even if they end up making the same trip back in time X years after the injury, they wouldn’t happen to end up in exactly the same position at that moment (unless you imagine some sort of fate-like force guiding all their actions).

    • The character has changed the timeline by coming back. They’re in a state of quantum uncertainty?

  12. Sigmund_Jung says:

    The kid totally added an Akira vibe to the movie. Unexpected, but welcome. 

    • Jorpho says:

      Akira, definitely.  Welcome?  Maybe not.  Akira was bluddy weird.  (See also Spriggan for something else in that vein that definitely did not work.)

  13. arsphenamine says:

    Having read time travelogues for decades, I thought the most memorable bit of Looper was the diner meeting between Younger and Older protags, in which the Older notes that the very act of meeting,conversing with Younger distorts his memory.  It is an obvious yet subtle point that is usually glossed when mentioned at all in the majority of time travel yarns.

    The bits about suddenly disappearing body parts and mysterious new scarring, however, don’t hold together without a firmer back-story on “self-healing timelines”.

    Of course, all time travelogues implicitly rest on magically ignoring the Third Law of Thermodynamics, so I’m willing to cut storytellers some slack if the yarn is entertaining.

    • mark_andrus says:

      Best line in their diner conversation came from JGL: “Your face looks backwards.”

    • hypnosifl says:

      Of course, all time travelogues implicitly rest on magically ignoring the Third Law of Thermodynamics, so I’m willing to cut storytellers some slack if the yarn is entertaining.

      As a physics geek I gotta say a few things about this: first off, I believe you’re thinking of the second law of thermodynamics, the third law is about entropy going to zero at a temperature of absolute zero. And the second law of thermodynamics only applies to isolated system, and is about what happens in the limit as the amount of time passed goes to infinity; if your system is an isolated room with a time portal in it that allows anything in the room to travel to the same room at an earlier time (or travel forward to the same room at a later time), how would the time portal allow you to circumvent the second law? Also, I think time travel doesn’t automatically put a story in fantasy territory: it turns out that in Einstein’s theory of general relativity, there are certain theoretical situations that would allow for “closed timelike curves”, or objects which loop back in time and encounter (or become) their own selves at that time. Physicists suspect that quantum effects will probably out these possibilities (Hawking’s chronology protection conjecture) but they don’t dismiss them out-of-hand, and certainly don’t use thermodynamics to dismiss them, anyone who’s interested in the subject can read a book like Black Holes and Time Warps or Time Travel and Warp Drives, both by physicists who specialize in general relativity.

  14. TravF says:

    I created a profile for no other reason than to strenuously disagree with this absurd review.  TK and time travel are STAPLES of science fiction.  They are so well-worn and beloved and interwoven that you don’t even need to explain them to the audience anymore.  Having an unexpected TK element broadened the scope of possibility in a thrilling and interesting way.  I completely agree with those who have mentioned Akira – and like the first time I watched Akira, I left Looper with a mind blown from several directions (something I could not say regarding so many other single-issue Sci Fi movies, no matter their caliber).

  15. big ryan says:

    the way my brother explained the movie pretty much summed it up for me

    brother : ‘looper is THE BEST time travel movie i have ever seen!
    me: what about back to the future?
    brother: looper is THE SECOND BEST time travel movie i have ever seen!

    • PathogenAntifreeze says:

       12 Monkeys, Source Code, Primer… if well done time travel is the objective, those are the films to see.  Might cause another re-ordering for you and your brother.

  16. bonster says:

    My only time travelish quibble with Looper was why loopers needed to exist. Couldn’t you just drop off your victims in the past but in the ocean?

    Anyway, I also disagree that telekinesis ruined the tone. The element of time travel *constrained* the potentially overwhelming concept of telekinesis because we know in 40 years that exceptional powers like the Rainmaker’s are still isolated and mysterious. It’s not like we were suddenly dropped into a world where everyone’s an airbender and all bets are off. Like time travel, this force is still burgeoning. Now we know they’ll be unfurling in parallel. Fun!

    • kitfisk says:

      Also, if the mob is unable to kill people in the future, then how were they able to gun down Bruce Willis’ wife?

      •  On Twitter, the director said that killing Bruce Willis’ wife was a fuck up on the part of that guy. The henchpeople tried to cover the crime by setting the house on fire, but they’re in trouble.

    • Itsumishi says:

      I got the impression that when you sent someone back in time they ended up in the same place in the past, i.e. the big factory looking thing where Bruce fought the mob in the future was in the same place as the field where all these people get blown away. So yes you could drop people in the middle of the atlantic, but then you’d need a ship floating in the middle of the atlantic with your time travel machine sitting there.

  17. m_a_s says:

    Actually, I thought the tremendous amounts of paradoxes ruined it for me.
    Spoiler alert.
    Oh, gee.  How did I not notice until just now that my legs are missing?
    At what point in someone’s life does one suddenly realize that the message cut into your arm of your past self suddenly applies to what one is doing 50 years later?
    In a word: LAME

    • vonbobo says:

      Why would something happening current day, reverse everything that has happened 25 years ago? You are assuming too much about time travel. 

      I thought this brand of time travel was refreshing and made sense.

      • m_a_s says:

        I am not assuming too much at all!
        There is one scene where one of the “hit men” let’s their future self run away.  They get the present day hit man and start scaring, then amputating limbs.  If they did that to the present day assasin, how could the future version of the assasin run away—without legs?  Why would the future version suddenly notice a scar that he had for 25 years or so?  How could he reach for something and then realize that his hand is missing.  The hand that was amputated 25 years ago (in his time line)
        It’s simply inconsistent.
        How do you expect time travel to work?

        • Chentzilla says:

           Makes about as much sense as that photo of Marty McFly fading.

        • DrMedicine says:

          The future self is a projection of where the younger self will be 30 years from now. Remember Old Joe’s comment on how everything he can remember happening in the near future is fuzzy until it happens to young Joe. So when the younger one’s course is altered, by opening the loop, the change is committed to the older one – because his course is only altered as a result of being sent back.

  18. vonbobo says:

    Looper is a good Hollywood movie. Even though a lot is being said about the movie, I don’t think there is really much there. I enjoyed reading everyone’s comments on here the first time around, then didn’t think about it again after that.

  19. Grey Devil says:

    I rather enjoyed the 2nd half of  the movie, though i found the pacing of the middle to be too slow and almost boring. When i start to glance at my watch and wonder when the movie will end is never a good sign. However once things pick up in the end i found the conclusion quite satisfying. Though i will say that i think that the “Rainmaker” character needed a bit more explanation as far as addressing the actions he took in the future.. they do touch on it but not enough to really make clear the character’s motivation. Being angsty alone is not a reason to commit atrocities on a mass scale.

    However i think a better twist would have been for Bruce Willis’ character to be chasing a character that will ultimately end up not existing in the same manner of his future incarnation, him knowing this and still choosing to kill him just to be sure. In essence blind violence and revenge.

    This is just opinion obviously, but going by what the movie actually is i liked it quite a bit and would happily recommend it to others to give it a chance despite its flaws.

    • RaidenDaigo says:

       “Being angsty alone is not a reason to commit atrocities on a mass scale.”
      Some one should have told a dejected Austrian art student back in the early 20th century.

  20. CJR says:

    This is thinking too hard about this. It was very fun movie. The only real plot-hole was why the mother stayed at her farm with her child knowing a man (Bruce Willis) was coming to kill him. Why not just go to a hotel? Still, I just let that go and enjoyed it. After seeing Prometheus one plot-hole seemed pretty minor!

  21. Genevra Littlejohn says:

    Wow, I don’t usually disagree with boingboing as much as I do now. I thought it was refreshing, the kid behaved much like actual child geniuses that I have known, and it was -fantastic- to have a movie where the women were actually people.

  22. am i the only one that thought this was an Oedipal play? when i saw it i, and several others in the theater, though that Joe was the kid and he had just slept with his mom. i won’t go into the logic of how i concluded this…did anyone else catch this theme?

  23. Daniel Griffin says:

    Looper wasn’t really about time travel or telekinesis so much as it was a snapshot of what the future looks like in friedman style free market economy.  The magical bits just made the ride through it more interesting.

  24. Atilla McGee says:

    Blake Synder, late author of the screenwriting book, Save the Cat, called it “double mumbo-jumbo.” It’s a general screenwriting rule of thumb: There can be only one supernatural element per story. More than one tends to put a strain on the audience’s willing suspension of disbelief. Of course, comic book stories and broad fantasies always break this rule. And science fiction stories often pile on the mumbo-jumbo tech (starships, teleportation, time travel, and William Shatner’s hairpiece all in the same universe).  When I saw Looper, I called double-mumbo-jumbo. But you know what? It worked, because the story takes place in the future and we’ve been conditioned to accept multiple levels of tech magic in our science fiction tales.

    I found it harder to swallow the paradox of the movie’s big conclusion [SPOILERS COMING....]. If the adult Rainmaker appeared in the original timeline (before Bruce time travels back 30 years), why does Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s self-annihilation prevent the child Rainmaker from becoming adult Rainmaker? The Rainmaker turned out bad even before Bruce/Joseph got involved in mucking with the timeline. So are we to believe that some kind of fate inevitably draws the Rainmaker into the role of the big bad, no matter what anyone does? If so, then JGL’s self-sacrifice is meaningless.

    • PathogenAntifreeze says:

      I read a good theory in some other comment thread: The big showdown at the end, which breaks the kid out of refusing to acknowledge his mom is the only path that opens him up to accepting what she has to offer… without that conflict happening at the farm, he continues to think his real mom died and rejecting “Sarah” as a fake.

      • random says:

        Plausible maybe, but that’s not how young Joe’s epiphany described things, and I don’t see how he would have drawn that conclusion himself as a participant in the story.

  25. Kenny Cross says:

    I loved the movie despite the fact that the cute kid at the farm house turned out to be the Anti-Christ, DAMIEN. Anyway in the future wasn’t Damien played by Sam Niell? I kid I kid. Once again Mr. Gordon-Levitt had an outstanding performance. Who’d a thunk he’d be where he’s at now after Third Rock From The Sun. I actually quite enjoyed the digital shenanigans to make him look more like Bruce. Bruce Willis on the other hand embraced the dark side in order to get back to his wife. But if Damien, I mean the little kid was killed before he could become the adult Rainmaker, wouldn’t have…anywho I enjoyed  it, except for the kid doing his big bad voodoo. When he’s just being a kid he was fine.

    The conclusion I actually enjoyed. Simplicity in itself. After the fact I sat back and thought to myself, ‘well d’uh.’ Nice touch.

  26. Matt Smith says:

    I could be missing something b/c I watched the movie after several drinks, and therefore sound stupid, but why were loopers assigned to kill their future selves instead of having others do the deed. This would have erased the entire conflict of not wanting to close the loop on yourself. Seems like genius crime bosses of the future would see this being a problem.

    • cdh1971 says:

      I got the impression that it was a psychological lever meant to emphasise the fact that their contract was indeed fulfilled, and more importantly, to make it clear that the closed looper’s fate is sealed so there is no point in trying to hide from the final condition of their contract. 

  27. David Lanteigne says:

    A man who must kill his older self and fails to do so, setting time out of joint–that’s a story.  A mother desperate to protect her freakishly powerful mutant son–that’s a story.  Asking me to believe these two situations are coincident in time and space–that’s a stretch. (And I would have like to see more diagrams made out of soda straws.)

  28. Joe Maynard says:

    I’m getting really sick of paying to see movies in the theater (Prometheus, Looper) and then finding out that I’m expected to buy the “special edition dvd” if I want to actually see the scenes that allow the plot to make logical sense. 

  29. Rodney Gordon says:

    Yeah, sorry but you’re almost 100% wrong. The Time Travel storyline is absolutely not abandonded or “exploded” as you put it, as important and unique story elements hinge on the special relationship Old and Young Joe have as they occupy the narrative. And the effects of this relationship are felt right up until the end, so I’m sorry your expectations led your astray and you were unable to reconcile them to enjoy this brilliant (but flawed) movie. It’s still great and your points are, frankly, invalid.

  30. Ian Kerr says:

    This movie seemed to do all the thinking for me, which I didn’t like.  Hell, JGL even explained the final scene and told the viewer what to feel.  I was a bit disappointed.

  31. anansi133 says:

    The only timeline that we *don’t* get to see -that’s still essential to the plot- is the one where Cid grows up having a mother. And no one can predict what that one looks like. Maybe the kid still turns out wrong, who can say?

     Which is where all the heart of the film lies: it’s not certain, it’s just a hope. which is all any parent has. The “Hero Decides the World is a Better Place Without Him ” thing still pisses me off, but it was still worth it.

    Hitler did not (as far as we know) possess TK powers, yet he still ended up dangerous- so calling the kid a super TK dude just makes the danger foreseeable. The story would still work if he was dangerously hateful yet charismatic, it just would have been slower to tell.

  32. kaidaigoji says:

    “the creepy Rainmaker kid functions as an awful Deus Ex Machina to the other characters dealing with their typical time travel problems”

    When you don’t even understand what a Deus Ex Machina is, I can’t be surprised at this fairly shallow review of Looper.  This isn’t a movie about time travel, or telekinesis, or anything else like that.  This is a movie that asks the question – if you could go back in time and kill Hitler, would you?  Time-travel is the way the movie asks interesting moral questions, not the point.  TK is the macguffin; not all that important to the plot, as it turns out. 

  33. rocheambeau says:

    I had a really difficult time following this article.

    “Concerning the first issue, there’s no reason why on God’s green earth a toddler should be trading dialogue with Joseph Gordon-Levitt. That’s just bizarre.”

    Why is that bizarre in a time travel movie?  Please elucidate.  

    “How sad to see that tired old stock horror movie trope “the evil child” trotted out, followed closely by its dim-witted cousin “the unknowable genius”.” 

    Can you provide alternate examples of these archetypes?  I’ve seen a lot of movies with evil children and/or geniuses, and it’d help my understanding if I knew specifically what other movie or literary characters fall into these tropes.

    “But stories with telekinesis need a different aesthetic approach.”

    Why?  This blanket statement and several similar vague generalizations seem to imply that there is only 1 correct way to write or tell a story about a given subject.  That seems a bit myopic and prejudicial, and these statements would have a lot more credibility with a bit less “This is the way things SHOULD be” and a bit more explanation.

    “In the case of “Looper,” telekinesis being a more “agented” sort of magic, the creepy Rainmaker kid functions as an awful Deus Ex Machina…the Rainmaker character doesn’t serve as a Deus Ex Machina at all.”

    Which one?  Deus Ex Machina has a fairly specific definition.  Either the kid (or some of his actions) was thrown in to magically solve major plot issues… or he wasn’t.  Without better justification and explanation, these really just kinda feel like an excuse to use the phrase.  Deus Ex Machina does sound and look pretty awesome in print.  It’s even awesomer when used correctly and explained fully.  I’m willing to hear the argument, but I need more to go on.

    “….the flaw that I mean has more to do with tone than plot. Because tonally the telekinesis and time travel don’t run parallel at all, but intersect often and clumsily. Once telekinesis is introduced as a serious force in the story, all the carefully crafted tensions inherent to the time travel aesthetic are (literally) exploded. Once the audience sees a kid who can overturn a truck with his mind, watching a man disappear to a different timeline seems hollow and pointless, a plot contrivance.”

    Why & How?  This is a great introductory paragraph, but requires greater explanation.  As written and without further clarification, this comes across as a subjective opinion being stated as fact.  Why is simply throwing a truck more impressive than wiping out someone’s entire existence?  Are you saying that telekinesis would somehow stop time travel?  What, exactly, the hell is going on here?

  34. BoogieKingston says:

    TK was intertwined with time travel as far as the development of the Rainmaker. Nathan tried to find a reason not to like the movie, and he failed.

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