It’s been five years since the directing/writing team of Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal brought us Zero Dark Thirty – and it’s about time they had something new for us. Thankfully, the trailer for Detroit looks as if they’re not going to let us down. A stinging, emotive, and visceral look at the 12th Street riot that occurred in July 1967 following events that took place at the Algiers Motel, the movie has already come under fire for not including any black women in its main cast. It’s a little early to tell if this is a deliberate piece of revisionism, but what is clear from the glimpses of violence seen in the trailer is that Bigelow has captured the atmosphere and the grim inevitability of a situation that quickly spiralled out of control and left three men dead, and nine others brutally injured. Bigelow has also assembled a great cast, including John Boyega as a security guard who gets caught up in the riot, Jack Reynor, John Krasinski, Anthony Mackie, and in what could be the role that catapults him to well-deserved stardom, Will Poulter as one of the three cops who ended up on trial for murder. One of the must-see movies of 2017, Detroit has all the potential to be an impassioned and excoriating feature that will leave audiences stunned and impressed in equal measure when it’s released in August.
Samuel L. Jackson is the hitman. Ryan Reynolds is the bodyguard. Gary Oldman is the dictator both men team up to defeat. The tone of the movie? Well, you only have to see the poster for The Hitman’s Bodyguard to work that one out: a parody of The Bodyguard (1992) with Reynolds subbing for Kevin Costner, and Jackson for Whitney Houston. The trailer drives the idea home with what is obviously a deliberate lack of subtlety, and though Tom O’Connor’s screenplay was included in the 2011 Black List of unproduced scripts, this looks likely to be an action comedy that is big on action set-pieces, but short on actual laughs (though Reynolds’ comment that Jackson’s character has ruined the word “motherfucker” has an ironic touch to it that bodes well). However it turns out, and the trailer’s mix of shouty humour, action beats and Roadrunner/Wile E. Coyote-style stuntwork doesn’t seem to say “instant classic”, this could still be the kind of dumb “Saturday-night-with-beers-and-a-pizza” movie that gains a loyal fanbase, and becomes a bona fide guilty pleasure in years to come.
After the success of John Wick (2014), it was perhaps inevitable that there would be a distaff version of that movie (literally) hitting our screens. And so we have Atomic Blonde, an adaptation of Antony Johnston’s graphic novel The Coldest City (the movie’s original title), and starring Charlize Theron as an MI6 agent tasked with retrieving a list of double agents being smuggled into the West prior to the fall of the Berlin Wall. The John Wick connection is cemented by David Leitch being in the director’s chair, and the trailer showcases a scene that has Theron taking out a roomful of assailants in much the same style as Wick. Whether there will be too many similarities between the two movies remains to be seen, and if there are it may hurt Atomic Blonde‘s chances with the critics, but if its sense of humour is as acerbic as its action sequences are full-on kinetic, then the movie has a chance of connecting with a wider, more appreciative audience. The presence of Sofia Boutella as a French operative Theron’s character “makes contact with”, plus James McAvoy as her operational ally in Berlin, and John Goodman as a less than friendly CIA agent, adds lustre to the movie, and the trailer can’t help but give potential audiences the impression that this may well turn out to be a very, very fun ride indeed.