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Trailer Hype: “Free Fire” and “Baby Driver” Boast Peculiar Aesthetic Gimmicks

I’ve got a pair of sweet trailers here, and they both look like high-octane, shoot-em-up action flicks, though they have wildly different tones.  Free Fire is going to be the first to hit theaters, and features an insane collection of talent along with a humorous concept.  Baby Driver is similarly stocked, and an Edgar Wright film is always worth checking out – especially given the recent hype coming out of the South-by-Southwest (SXSW) Film Festival.  Fortunately, we’ve got some trailers to hype us up.

Free Fire (A24, Release Date:  April 21st )

As becomes evident almost immediately, Free Fire is absolutely packed with strong actors.  Brie Larson and Armie Hammer headline here, but there’s also Sharlto Copley (District 9), Cillian Murphy (Nolan’s Batman Trilogy, Peaky Blinders), Jack Reynor (Sing Street), Babout Ceesay (Eye in the Sky), and many more.  From there, we’ve got a simple idea:  stage an arms deal between armed buffoons, have it go wrong, and let the bullets fly.  The entire film is set in this one location, like a television bottle episode, and essentially looks like one long fire fight.

The red band trailer reveals an unabashed comic tone.  Characters taunt each other and are quick with the profanity.  People get shot, but the gunshot wounds are treated with hilarious casualness, as if people’s feelings are more hurt than their bodies.  The trailer may give away a bit more than I would prefer, especially since we see Brie Larson’s character shooting at Sharlto Copley’s and that seems like it happens in the last third of the film.  Still, with this collection of talent, this premise, and this tone, Free Fire is high on my list of anticipated films.  A24 being behind it is just icing on the cake.

Baby Driver (Tristar Pictures, Release Date: August 11th)

There’s a longer wait until we get to see Baby Driver, but the film’ recent premiere at the SXSW Film Festival has sparked a titanic wave of hype.  The first trailer was released to take advantage of the hype, but unfortunately the most intriguing details will be lost on most audiences.  After watching the trailer, most viewers are probably going to liken Baby Driver to a knock-off of Nicholas Winding Refn’s Drive, but lighter and more fun.  The subject matter is definitely similar – right down to the crime mogul strong-arming the main character.

Despite an attempt at exposition in the trailer explaining why Baby is always listening to music, the actually stylistic consequence of this choice is not explicit, and that is a mistake.  The first-hand accounts from SXSW clear this up, and portend a spectacular and unique aesthetic:

That’s right – the music that Baby is always playing to drown out his tinnitus is a diegetic component of the film.  The action, the dialogue, everything that happens when Baby is listening to his music will be choreographed to the movie’s soundtrack.  The hot takes that are already cold takes sum it up much like the above tweet.  This is Edgar Wright’s La La Land, or Drive + La La Land, or Gone in 60 Seconds + La La Land.  People are already tiring over the comparisons and mental gymnastics used to explain the peculiarities of this flick.  This fails to speak towards the overall quality of the film, as an aesthetic gimmick does not guarantee a movie will be of high quality.  But it does guarantee that Baby Driver will at least be interesting and different.  That’ll be enough for me.

So, there you go – two quirky little action flicks that are probably under the radar for many of you.  I’m keeping my eyes on these, and you should be too.

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Derek Jacobs

Chicago,IL 60606

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