Before he made his debut with "Brick," his award-winning 2005 film noir set in a high school, director Rian Johnson already had the idea for "Looper" down on paper.
"It was a three-page script for a short film that I ended up never shooting," he says. "I wrote it about 10 years ago, and it had been sitting in a drawer for a while -- just the basic sci-fi premise of the mob in the future sending people back in time to be executed by hit men in the present." After directing the 2008 drama "The Brothers Bloom" and two episodes of TV's "Breaking Bad," Johnson finally got to make his time-travel adventure, and the central idea remains intact.
One of the many twists of the time-travel genre that "Looper" explodes is the notion that if someone were to travel in time and meet himself, the resulting paradox would cause the universe to implode.
"Looper" disposes with the holes in its plot in a quick scene at a diner in which the two Joes (Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis) decide not to dwell too much about the impossibility of their situation.
"I should point out that we're not the first movie to do this," Johnson says with a laugh. "In 'Back to the Future 2,' old Biff and young Biff met each other, and the world didn't end. So there's that."