Joseph Gordon-Levitt in Looper

With 'Looper,' writer and director Rian Johnson ('Brick,' 'The Brothers Bloom') has created a cool-as-ice futuristic hit man named Joe (Joseph Gordon-Leavitt) who has nerves of steel and a nasty addiction to some hardcore, hallucinogenic eye drops.

When Joe discovers that his next target is his future self (Bruce Willis) and he accidentally lets his Loop run, the stylistic flick turns into a mind-bending, time-traveling thriller complete with exploding bodies, hilarious one-liners, tense stand-offs, and a crime boss named Ace (Jeff Daniels) who keeps a hammer on his desk... just in case.

This week, the director took some time to tell us his favorite hit man flicks – check them out, and catch 'Looper' on the big screen. It opens September 28.

1. Pulp Fiction (1994)

“You've gotta start with Tarantino,” says Johnson. “'Reservoir Dogs' is more of a heist movie. 'Pulp Fiction' hit at the perfect time for my friends and me. We were in college, and it was the epitome of cool. It's like that Beck song: ‘Sitting in the kitchen/Wishing I was living like a hit man.’ It really keyed into our psyches.”

2. Le Samourai (1967)

“I loved John Woo, and I saw this film recommended on a poster. John Woo called it: ‘The most perfect movie I’ve ever seen,’ so that was good enough for me. It’s a beautiful, methodic glimpse into the world of a hit man, very cool.”

3. The Killer (1989)

“I’m due to revisit this one. John Woo and 'Raiders of the Lost Ark' are kind of the gold standard of how to shoot action. When you watch Woo’s action scenes you feel unhinged but still oriented, you always know where you are.”

4. The Conformist (1970)

“It’s about a guy who isn’t a hit man who is charged with doing a hit. There’s kind of a Crime and Punishment dynamic and it’s one of the most beautiful films ever made.”

5. Breathless (1960)

“The character isn’t really a hit man, but he does kill a man. I watched a lot of Godard during Looper. I liked that feeling of the anarchy of youth, and wanted to give the characters that freewheeling feeling when they’re in the clubs.”

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