I recently read a saying about civil engineers that I love:
Anybody can make a bridge that stands up, but it takes an engineer to make a bridge that can barely stand up.
Rian Johnson is an engineer.
LOOPER is an easy movie to appreciate for a regular audience, but it carries a special power for someone who spends most of their life thinking about and making movies. This is a film where literally every single scene could break the entire movie if handled slightly differently. The plot, themes, characters, world, tone, and yes even the make-up all run across a tightrope the width of a fishing line. Rian Johnson and his creative cohorts giddily bounce back and forth across this razor blade tightrope like kids on a trampoline.
It’s incredibly hard to make a good film. Every filmmaker knows this, and I think it’s natural for us to try to minimize the difficulty-setting when embarking on a new production. We try to design films that work even if we don’t get them perfect. If we were talking about food, Hollywood turns every cut of steak into a burger, puts cheese on every burger, and puts bacon on every cheeseburger. And in a practical sense, this is smart. How can you rely on perfection in a process where so many things can and will go wrong? Where so many forces knowingly or unknowingly conspire against you. So when I see a film like LOOPER it makes me take a step back and realize that it’s possible to set yourself an impossible task and still achieve it. LOOPER is Armstrong on the moon; it’s Amundsen at the South Pole; it’s Obama in the Oval Office.
So Rian, I just want you and your whole team to know that I know what you did. And I appreciate it. And it inspires me. Thank you for LOOPER. Thank you for taking the difficult path, and my compliments on making it look so effortless.