Ahoy, squirts! Quint here. I knocked out my Elysium piece a couple hours ago, now I’m fed and ready to finish this day off like a champ. So, let’s rundown the Looper presentation, shall we?
Rian Johnson (director-man), Emily Blunt (cutie-patootie) and Joseph Gordon-Levitt (sharply-dressed man) all took the stage and apologized that Bruce Willis couldn’t make it because he was in Eastern Europe shooting the new Die Hard movie.
They began by introducing a 5 minute reel that sets up the world of Looper. The basic rundown is this: in the future time travel has been invented, but it’s like priority one, worst thing you can do super illegal. Scientists and the government won’t touch it because it’s so dangerous and the only people that mess around with it at all are the mob. Because it’s the super future, it’s nearly impossible to get away with murder, so when they need someone taken out they zap ‘em back in time to be executed and disposed of. Easy, right?
It takes a special kind of assassin to be trusted with this duty. They call them Loopers and they are given a time and they wait in a cornfield with a huge gun. One minute there’s nothing there, in the next a body appears, head covered and blammo. They’re gone, the Looper finishes his job and gets paid and lives the high life until one day they grow old, become a loose end and are sent back themselves to be taken care of.
One day, Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s character, imaginatively named Joe, goes out to do his duty and Bruce Willis shows up, mask off and takes advantage of young Joe’s surprise at seeing his older self, escapes and puts young Joe in danger.
Young Joe hunts Old Joe as Old Joe tries to find a particular nasty bad guy from his time and take him out, all “if I could go back through time, I’d kill Hitler” style.
Outside the basic set up, featuring glimpses at some of the more futuristic elements, wide shots of the city, some cool cars, ec, this batch of footage revolves around two key conversational scenes.
One is between Gordon-Levitt and Jeff Daniels, his boss and mob guy from the future that’s set up to make sure things go smoothly. The conversation is focused on trying to get Joe to retire. “You were the youngest looper I ever hired. I cleaned you up and put a gun in your hand. I gave you something that was yours. I remember that kid. You were going to get out and go overseas, right? Studying up your Mandarin?” “French.” “French? Why the fuck French?” “I’m going to France.” “You should go to China.” “I’m going to France.” “I’m from the future. You should go to China.”
Daniels plays this guy as a mixture of kind of buzzed and kind of deadly serious. He almost comes across like The Dude’s more businesslike older brother. Big, unkempt beard, slightly glassy eyes, but a sharpness underneath it all.
The second extended bit from the footage was a diner conversation between young and old Joe. Willis slides into the booth, staring Gordon-Levitt down. Keep in mind that the bosses have two options here: find and kill Old Joe before he fucks up the future or kill Young Joe (that makes Old Joe go away, naturally). So in a weird way, Gordon-Levitt has to kill himself to save himself.
Old Joe know this and they are both on their guard. After he sits down, he can’t help but avert his gaze, muttering, “I can’t stare into your eyes. It’s too strange.” Willis starts giving his younger self the riot act, telling him to look at his life. He’s a killer, he’s a junky, he has a child’s mentality. Young Joe interrupts and Old Joe interrupts right back with a “Shut your fucking child mouth!”
Of course things get even more heated, but what I really want to emphasize about this footage is just how into it Willis was. On the panel they’d discuss just how involved and excited Willis was to do this movie (not a new bit if news if you paid close attention to my interview with Bruce right after he signed on) and it was really evident in this scene.
Old Joe’s years shows in every facial expression. He underplays the scene beautifully and somehow him playing it more vulnerable makes him feel more dangerous.
Gordon-Levitt look and sounds great, too. He’s got a bit of a Willis twang to his voice and, of course, the slight prosthetics to help make him look a little more like a younger Bruce Willis, but that’s another non-surprise… Joseph Gordon-Levitt is one of our generation’s most talented actors. Of course he brought it.
The only bit of Emily Blunt we really got to see in the sizzle reel had her making a lighter float. Something fishy is going on with that one.
She was great on the panel, though, very up for a laugh and showed it right away when she called Gordon-Levitt a pussy for letting Willis run.
Here are some interesting notes from the panel:
-Bruce Willis recorded all of Gordon-Levitt’s voiceover lines for Joe to listen to. Joe said he studied them so he’d have a bit of a roadmap to how his character might actually say those lines.
-Audience member question: “How did you mentally and physically prepare for this role?” JGL: “I didn’t work out for shit on this film.”
-Emily Blunt told a story about her favorite photo she has of a scene out in the Midwest where Willis, covered in blood that may or may not be his, decided her “delicate English skin” might burn up in the sun between takes, so he shows up carrying a flowery parasol and holding it over her as they had a conversation. She has no idea where that flowery parasol came from, but someone took a photo of it and it’s supposedly her father’s favorite photo of her to this date.
-Ms. Blunt also laid it out and said that she thinks Looper is the best film she’s ever been a part of. She also cited The Adjustment Bureau as being the most challenging for her because it required her train as a dancer, which she called a daily hell.
-I also got to hear Joseph Gordon-Levitt do Dick Van Dyke from Mary Poppins, so there’s that. And you wonder why Comic-Con is such a big draw. Where else can you hear that?
Anyway, that’s the Looper presentation in an exhausted, probably barely legible nutshell. The movie looked damn good, Bruce Willis looked like he cared again and the whole thing feels like it’s riding that line between super smart and entertaining well. Can’t wait to finally see that fucker!
Make sure to follow me on Twitter as I’m live-tweeting the panels as they unfold. Think of it as a preview piece to what pops up here in a more thought out and detailed form. Tomorrow brings Django, The Hobbit, Superman, Pacific Rim and Iron Man III!