Director Rian Johnson's Looper is a tale of self-discovery wrapped in a love story and tied up in a complex, dystopian future populated by drug-addicted time-traveling hit men. When Johnson stopped by the Mandarin Oriental Hotel Miami to promote the film, he said he wanted to avoid typical time-travel clichés.
Rian Johnson (left) with Joseph Gordon-Levitt on the set of Looper.
Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis, Emily Blunt, and Paul Dano. Directed by Rian Johnson. 118 minutes. Rated R.
"I came up with a whole system for how all this stuff works," Johnson explained. "A big part of the writing process was coming up with this whole system and then not explaining a lot of it, just letting the rules play out onscreen and hoping the audience will kind of just understand why the stuff is working. I think that's one of the real challenges of writing a time-travel movie. You spend all this time developing all these intricate rules, [and] there's a temptation to have a scene where you draw on a chalkboard and explain it all. I didn't want that in Looper."
What he did want was to pay homage to his literary heroes. "I was reading a ton of Philip K. Dick books when I wrote [the script]," he remembered. "The sci-fi that I love, like Dick or Ray Bradbury, to me is a great example of someone who uses a sci-fi concept to amplify a human emotion... Yeah, it's time travel and it's older-self/younger-self, which is a really out-there and an impossible situation. But what that leads to is a young man sitting across from an old man looking at what he could become in the future and saying, 'I'm not going to turn into you. I don't have to become you.' And the old man looking at the younger man and saying, 'I see me in you, and you're doing everything wrong. What are you doing?' And that's absolutely human and relatable, and the sci-fi thing just amplifies that, hopefully."