5 Best Rian Johnson Projects
Rian Johnson has become, in recent years, a widely-known director. He has always had talent—shown even in his early work, like his short film Evil Demon Golfball From Hell!!!—but with his latest films Looper and Star Wars: The Last Jedi, he has broken through to a larger audience. His turn helming the recently-rebooted Star Wars franchise, in particular, has been divisive to say the least — and has spurred even more conversation around his directorial skill.
Whether you personally enjoyed Star Wars: The Last Jedi or not—it is hard to deny his level of talent behind the camera. The powers that be at Lucasfilm seem to agree — considering he has been given whole new spin-off trilogy set in the Star Wars universe. He also has a murder mystery film on the horizon called Knives Out, with a star-studded cast including Jamie Lee Curtis, Ana de Armas, Toni Collette, Chris Evans, Michael Shannon, Daniel Craig, and Lakeith Stanfield. Fans of his Johnson’s work — especially his earlier film Brick, which is also a murder mystery — are likely rife with anticipation. Until the release of these exciting new projects, here is his best work so far.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017)
With Star Wars: The Last Jedi, mysterious protagonist Rey has finally found the legendary Jedi Master Luke Skywalker to be her teacher — but things do not go quite as planned. In the meantime, the authoritarian First Order continues to breathe down the neck of the fledgling Resistance. Fans were widely divided on Johnson’s entry into the Star Wars franchise. However, after so many years and mostly diminishing returns — his piece sparked conversation about how to make the series feel fresh and fun again after being stale for so many years.
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Brick marked Johnson’s first collaboration with Joseph Gordon-Levitt. He plays a teenager named Brendan Frye whose ex-girlfriend is found murdered. He intends to solve her murder himself. He is forced to come face-to-face with the seedy underworld of his high school. It is an essential, low-budget entry into the genre of neo-noir.
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Breaking Bad (2008 to 2013)
In Breaking Bad, a terminally ill high school chemistry teacher (Bryan Cranston) seeks the help of a deadbeat former student (Aaron Paul) to break into the world of producing and selling meth to leave his family with financial security after his death. Johnson only directed three episodes of the show, but they all became some of the most acclaimed in the series. “Ozymandias” in particular received much acclaim as a tense episode in which many loose threads come together. His earlier episode “Fly,” on the other hand, demonstrated his wealth of technical skill.
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Johnson’s film Looper imagines a future in which the mob sends its marks 30 years back in time to be killed by a “looper.” Joe (Gordon-Levitt), one of the loopers, comes face-to-face with his future self (Bruce Willis) — an event which causes his life to spiral out of control. It is a thrilling, imaginative film with laudable performances as well as impressive set and makeup design.
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The Brothers Bloom (2008)
In The Brothers Bloom, Mark Ruffalo and Adrien Brody play the eponymous brothers. They are expert con artists — with a mostly-mute demolitions expert (Rinko Kikuchi) — who look to pull off the classic “one last job” by conning a wealthy heiress (Rachel Weisz) out of some money. Though probably the weakest of Johnson’s projects thus far, it is a nonetheless enjoyable and incredibly clever film with a solid cast of characters.
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