James Cameron’s First Terminator Film Was Rian Johnson’s Blueprint While Writing Looper

Ultimately, Rian Johnson’s hard work was well worth it. When you’re watching a time travel movie, it’s hard to get the idea of a loop out of your mind. Either you’re already aware of the ending or there’ll be a butterfly effect that changes the entire world (potentially destroying happy futures in the process). “Looper,” in particular, emphasizes the importance of “closing” such loops, culminating in an ending that flips the thematic question of using violence to prevent future violence on its head. It’s both surprising and incredibly satisfying.

In one fell swoop, Johnson resolves every single issue in the final minutes of “Looper,” whether plot or theme-related: Cid grows up with a mother, Joe breaks the loop and redeems himself, and his future wife is presumably left to lead a long, fulfilling life without the risk of being murdered. Violence is endorsed as a way to prevent future pain, but only when it is tempered with self-sacrifice — an idea that ties into the movie’s thematic emphasis on family.

“Terminator” may have been Johnson’s model for a tightly-woven sci-fi flick (and to be clear, it’s a very fun, impressive movie!), but its tense, action-heavy ending lessens its impact. In contrast, the fact that “Looper” manages to pack such a satisfying conclusion into a single moment makes its finale vastly more powerful.

Leave a Comment