Welcome back to our weekly rundown of movie trailers (as well as any notable trailers for television and video games). While last week was a bit slow , this week was fairly loaded with notable trailers.
Best of the Week: The Connection
Period-piece crime sagas are always going to get my full attention. The French thriller The Connection tells the story of William Friedkin’s classic The French Connection from the other side of the Atlantic. This redband teaser features a lot of headshots and a French cover of Cher’s original, Mafia-wedding-worthy rendition of “Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)”. There’s a lot of action packed into this literal rapid-fire one-minute of footage, and we get some quick flashes of a few gorgeous shots that make me want to move to Marseilles, but the song absolutely makes this teaser. The final confrontation between the two leads is a cool and intense, a perfect cap to what comes before it.
Also Good: Dark Places, Selfless and The Salvation
Expect to see a ton of “from the writer of Gone Girl” in the advertising for Dark Places and presumably for any Gillian Flynn adaptation for years to come. Gone Girl became a talking point for a number of reasons, some good, and some, in my opinion, pretty ridiculous on the part of the people driving the discussions. Based on this early international trailer, Dark Places has some similarities with its predecessor–a grim crime mystery centered around a woman who’s been famous since childhood, lots of lies, hidden agendas and flashbacks–but it’s story doesn’t seem ripe for politicizing or forced social commentary the way Gone Girl‘s turned out to be. With this and Mad Max: Fury Road on the way in 2015, Charlize Theron is set up to bounce back rather nicely from the waste of her (and everyone else’s) time and talent that was A Million Ways to Die in the West.
Selfless stars Ryan Reynolds and Ben Kingsley, but the name that really made me eager to see its debut trailer was Tarsem Singh. The director of The Fall and some other movies that I’m not going to bother to name because all you need to know is he directed The Fall, Tarsem is an unbelievably imaginative visual stylist who can create spectacular scenes sans CGI that many other directors might literally be incapable of dreaming of. Needless to say, I’m a fan, despite his sketchy-at-best filmography (The Fall, though…The Fall). So I was mildly disappointed to see that this trailer looks largely conventional, from a visual standpoint. There are a couple of disconcerting shots here and there, but nothing jaw-dropping. I suppose there’s only so much you can do with this story and setting. My lofty expectations aside, this still looks pretty good, even though it already feels like one of those movies where the villains are being villainous for no damn good reason. If you can invent technology that will transfer someone’s mind into another body, you’re probably smart enough to think of ways to obtain new bodies without doing something evil and murderous. And the non-evil, anti-murderous route is probably a better business strategy.
There’s something about Jeffrey Dean Morgan that is, for lack of a better term, distractingly “unreal.” I think part of it is that is he a pastiche of three or four different actors, none of whom look alike. He’s not just a Javier Bardem doppleganger, he’s also a hardened Robert Downey Junior, an urbane Brad Garrett, a slightly less inherently-menacing Oliver Reed, and there’s a little bit of James Spader in the mix too, right? He’s one of the most movie-star looking people I’ve ever seen. All of which somehow makes him perfectly suited for the Western genre. In The Salvation he’s playing a dangerous, notorious outlaw, but I could easily see him as a grizzled lawman or silent bounty hunter as well. He should just make it his goal to completely own the Western genre from here on.
Less Than Good: No Escape and The Forger
Based on its trailer, I’m guessing that the tagline for No Escape is going “Be Afraid (of Asian people), Be Very Afraid (of all of them, seriously)”. Holy shit, I’m not usually the one to see “politics” in movies that don’t outright intend to venture into that terrain, and I’m really starting to hate the word “problematic”…but did you see that opening? Ho. Ly. Shit. Why is the music and tone so ominous when all we see are people just going about their everyday lives? “Look out, he’s using a butcher knife!” “Yes, to prepare food, which you can clearly see.” “Oh no! What’s he up to? Why is he staring at me?” “Motherf-r you were staring at me. I’m just on my porch trying to make dinner.” There’s even a “Get your hands off me!” moment; all that’s missing is the “you damn dirty apes.” Shouldn’t that guy be saying, “Don’t hurt/ shoot / murder me”? Yeah it’s just one line of dialogue, but even in the context of the scene, it feels wrong. Were I a massive racist, if I somehow got caught up in a rebellion on foreign soil where the locals decided to start offing those living abroad, I’d be less concerned with telling them not to touch me than trying to spit out the local tongue’s equivalent of, “Look, I’ll pay you triple, you’re throwing away a fortune here don’tbeafool!”
The Forger looks like Ocean’s 11 if it took itself far too seriously. The premise sounds like fun: an imprisoned art forger is coerced with the promise of early release if he pulls one last, big job. But then Travolta shows up speaking with a ridiculous accent and sporting the world’s tiniest soul patch and everything goes downhill with earnest from there. Million dollar art forgery heist plots do not belong in the same picture with dour, “ex-con trying to bond with his estranged family” drama.