Yesterday at Comic-Con, writer/director Rian Johnson (“Brick,” “The Brothers Bloom”) took the stage in Hall H for the very first time to discuss his mind-melting science fiction flick, “Looper.” He was joined by his star, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who Johnson wrote the part for (hence the character name, Joe) , and co-star Emily Blunt. We were told Bruce Willis was busy shooting the latest installment of the “Die Hard” franchise.
Set in 2072, Gordon-Levitt’s Joe works as a “Looper” for the mob in Kansas City. In this future world, when the mob wants someone dead, they send them to the past in order to eliminate their existence. Joe is living and killing in the year 2042. All is going well until he recognizes one of his targets as his future self.
“I came up with the idea about ten years ago at a time when I was reading a lot of Phillip K. Dick,” says Johnson. “I just had this idea for the basic plot of a mob in the future that employs hit men from the past. They kidnap the person, zap them back in time and the Looper disposes of them. And that was really just a way to set up the situation where an assassin was faced with his future self. And that’s where the movie really takes off.”
“Rian wrote the part for me, which is the first time that’s ever happened,” says Gordon-Levitt. “It’s a real honor. My character is a special type of assassin that uses time travel to dispose of his victims. But because it’s so illegal and the criminal organization in the future wants to severe all ties with me at one point, they send me my future self to kill. Unfortunately my future self is Bruce Willis, so I’m not able to kill him.”
“I can’t say too much about my character, Sara,” Blunt told the crowd. “She and her family get embroiled in all of this mess. Joe is a pussy and lets Bruce get away. (Laugh) She’s a very, very tough girl. She’s really cool. It was very exciting.”
At this point Johnson and co. offer up a reel from the film, largely an expanded look at what we’ve seen so far from the trailers. What becomes most evident in the extended sequences is the degree to which Gordon-Levitt managed to transform himself into a young Bruce Willis. He’s got the vocal patterns as well as some of the facial mannerisms like Willis’ trademark side smirk. While the looks may be quite different, the more you watch Gordon-Levitt play the role, the more you believe their connection. Jeff Daniels, who plays Joe’s boss, provides some comic relief in a few dialogue sequences that reveal a little and potentially confuse even more.
Like most clip reels, the disjointed scenes are a bit tricky to mentally piece together, but they certainly work as a showpiece. The action sequences, highlighted by a diner stand-off between Gordon-Levitt and Willis that goes from dialogue to fisticuffs to gunplay and lots of crashes and bangs, are stellar and leave you just like they should, wanting to see more.
We’ll have more on “Looper” this weekend from our interview with director Rian Johnson. The film hits theaters on September 28th.