Looper – due out later this year – is a science fiction film based around the idea that time-travel has been invented in the near future, but is only really used for nefarious purposes. Gordon-Levitt’s character is a “looper” – an assassin hired by criminals in the future who send their marks back in time to our present for elimination. Gordon-Levitt’s character is thrown for a loop, though, when he discovers his newest mark is actually his future self (played by Bruce Willis). Yesterday at Wondercon, director Brian Johnson and star Justin Gordon-Levitt introduced the first footage from the film and talked about it a bit with the fans.
It’s always a bit strange when people come to conventions to promote films that aren’t sequels and about which people know very little, but Johnson and Gordon-Levitt were happy to explain the premise and goals of Looper for the unitiated crowd. As Johnson described it, Looper is “at its heart” about what you would do if you found yourself sitting across from your past or future self. It gets into “all sorts of moral stuff. If moral exploration is [your thing], we’ve got your number.”
Bruce Willis wasn’t on hand for the panel, but that doesn’t mean his presence in the film went undiscussed. Gordon-Levitt talked at length about his preparation for basically playing Bruce Willis – ripping audio from his films to his iPod, focusing on Sin City. He wanted his performance to match Willis on a basic level, so that they would really seem like just a younger and older version of the same person. Of the four films he will be appearing in this year, Gordon-Levitt feels his role in Looper was the most challenging and most transformative.
Gordon-Levitt and Johnson also premiered the first footage seen from the film, in the form of a slick theatrical trailer. It opens on a clock, with voice over from Gordon-Levitt: “Time travel has not yet been invented, but 30 years from now it will have been. Loopers are specialized assassins in the past who eliminate targets from the future. […] Only rule is not to let the target escape.” This is intercut with scenes from the lavish Looper lifestyle – women, cars, money, and everything you could want. But then Gordon-Levitt’s looper unmasks his latest mark (Bruce Willis), who gets the upper hand and escapes. The rest of the trailer is a beautiful adrenaline-filled montage of action sequences and suggestions of the moral questions to be addressed.