Rian Johnson

Best movies: Brick (2005), The Brothers Bloom (2009)

Rian Johnson's reputation is that of an unpredictable genre-hopper. For evidence, first start with his 2005 feature debut Brick (starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt), a brave and unique neo-noir murder mystery set inside a modern-day high school where the kids speak in old Humphrey Bogart/The Maltese Falcon-styled dialect. For his much anticipated follow-up, Johnson re-shifted his focus into a whimsical, lightly comedic realm, unveiling 2008’s twisty romance The Brothers Bloom, led by Mark Ruffalo, Adrien Brody, and Rachel Weisz.

Rather than center his lovey-dovey premise around tired clichéd characters, Johnson fashioned a vibrant, breezy adventure about two con men (Ruffalo and Brody) whose deceitful pursuits get thrown off course by a cute new lady friend (Weisz). The only thing that Brick and The Brothers Bloom share in common is how guys-chasing-girls drives their narratives.

Lest he cover romantic ground for a third time, Johnson’s next movie foregoes sensitivity in favor of hardcore sci-fi and forward-thinking violence. Scheduled for a September 28th release, Looper reunites the writer-director with Gordon-Levitt, who plays a futuristic Mafia hit-man who specializes in killing people sent back from the future, one of whom, it turns out, is his older self (played by Bruce Willis). Based on Johnson’s output thus far, all we can tell you is this: Expect the unexpected.