Trailers of the Week: The Man With the Iron Fists, Jack Reacher, Compliance, and More

The Man With the Iron Fists (TBD)

Silver: Rem, last Friday when we were off saving humanity from that intergalactic, planet-destroying meteor storm, we missed covering one of the most mind-melting trailers to ever grace the Internet. There have been rumors of RZA’s directorial debut for years, but I never believed this film was real. Well, consider me a believer. And in my best RZA voice, it’s time to “take note, bitches!”

The Man With the Iron Fists appears to be an orgy of camp and action, a cinematic bouillabaisse of RZA’s favorite things. His directorial style feels as cheeky as Raimi’s, as referential as Tarantino’s, and as gratuitous as Eli Roth’s (both Roth and Q.T. are officially connected with this film). He clearly has a love and reverence for the kung fu genre, but has also made efforts to update and Americanize it.

Russell Crowe and Lucy Liu seem to be having a ton of fun chewing up scenery and playing characters strangely reminiscent of their roles in The Quick and the Dead and Kill Bill Vol. 1. And if the blood splatter on the lens wasn’t enough, then the eyeball flying toward the camera should be the signal that this film is not taking itself very seriously.

So for a guy like me, who prefers his orange juice pulpy, this film just quickly jumped straight to the top of my must-see list.

Browne: Oh, Silver, you mean this eyeball?

Thought so.

I’m excited to see this with a bunch of my friends, while being very loud and obnoxious in the back row of the movie theater. For some reason, this trailer made me feel 12 again. But enough about me, RZA knocked that dude’s eyeball square out.

Jack Reacher (December 21)

Silver: This is a very bad trailer for what I expect to be a really good movie.

Sure, Tom Cruise is the big B.O., multi-demographic, international star, but I’ve never considered him to be a follower of cinema trends. Cruise is too astute a producer and too cunning a talent to be a slave to research. He seems to be a guy who likes to be first and take big swings. And while not all of them pay off (see The Last Samurai), he would rather others react to him.

So I don’t believe that a film written and directed by Christopher McQuarrie (The Usual Suspects, The Way of the Gun) and staring Cruise will be the self-righteous, melodramatic, Fast and Furious–meets–Drive thing this trailer makes it out to be. I’m going to ignore the first 1:33 of the trailer and choose to put my faith in the last 20 seconds, where Cruise reluctantly beats the hell out of a gang of thugs. It’s funny and it’s badass.

Two additional thoughts:

1. The great (and insane) Werner Herzog co-stars in the film as a character named “The Zec.” Why hold back any of that footage? That should be blown out from the first teaser. That’s a “trailer fail” if I’ve ever seen one.

2. Can we just put all the personal stuff aside and unanimously accept Tom Cruise as the greatest movie star … ever? He can act, but what continuously impresses me is his total commitment to everything onscreen. When asked to run, he always does so at a dead sprint. When asked to be funny, he’s funnier than everyone around him. When asked to scale a mountain or building, he trains and does it himself. The dude is a pro. I’ll watch and love him forever.

Browne: I was really planning on not ignoring any of the personal stuff, but now that you put it that way, Silver, you’re right. Let’s just talk about Tom, the actor. Greatest movie star ever? Don’t know if I can go there with you right now. You know I want to, but I just can’t. Not yet. This movie, however, could be good. I wasn’t even sold by that last 20 seconds, but I, like you, tend to give him the benefit of the doubt when he’s making movies that involve him running after people or running away from people.

Compliance (August 17)

Silver: I’m not at all creeped out or embarrassed by admitting that I want to see this film. I believe there is an important and underserved place in cinema for films like Hard Candy, Oleanna, Bamboozled, and even the first Saw. These are films that force audiences to confront their most repressed desires (control, submission, voyeurism, and schadenfreude in Compliance’s case). These are uncomfortable experiences that will probably end abruptly and messily. But more than most mainstream fare, and solely based on the trailer, if you want to be challenged and emotionally (and sometimes physically) moved, then give Compliance a chance. It looks like at least a “I’ll have a second serving of pie” discussion movie.

Browne: This is one of the better trailers to have come across our Internet desk, Mr. Silver. I’m super creeped out right now and fully expect to not trust the person on the other side of the phone line for a good two to three months. Next time my mom calls, I’m screaming very loud, telling her I’m in Cleveland for a few years, and hanging up the phone. Can’t wait to see this film. Sorry in advance, friends and family.

Why Stop Now (VOD: Now / Theatrical: August 17)

Silver: Restraint and balance. These are two traits that Jesse Eisenberg severely needs to start incorporating into his onscreen work, but more than this, into his choices of roles. His performance in The Social Network was effective because he was mostly silent, quietly listening and processing the events unfolding in front of him. And only in selective moments, and ultimately for dramatic effect, did David Fincher allow “The Eisenberg” loose (i.e., exhibit manic neurosis). But in his roles after The Social Network, Eisenberg and his directors have had no issues with letting “The Eisenberg” drive and ultimately overtake his performance (to be fair, he was cast in the “Woody Allen” role in To Rome With Love). And based on the trailer, it’s appropriate that Eisenberg’s latest — an indie with the scent of Little Miss Sunshine mixed with 30 Minutes or Less — take heed of its title and ask its leading man to continue this moderately annoying trend.

Browne: Silver, you impressively reference other movies the way I talk about smells in my house. Calling this “Little Miss Sunshine mixed with 30 Minutes or Less” is even more on point than when I walked into my bedroom and noted that the scent was “Junior Bacon Cheeseburger mixed with Converse” and then five minutes later I found a half-eaten cheeseburger sitting inside of one of my shoes. A class act, Mr. Silver. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

AS FOR THIS FILM, I like seeing “Emmy Nominee Tracy Morgan” in films where his role isn’t a complete gimmick. It’s nice to see him with a potentially complex character to wrestle with. I’m kind of digging this film, even if Eisenberg weirds me out at times (I think that might be the point, though).

The Loneliest Planet (October 26)

Silver: Vague trailers like this don’t normally interest me. Their ambiguity usually translates into sloppy narratives with muddled themes. But I like Gael García Bernal quite a bit, and have had a crush on Hani Furstenberg since seeing her in 2002’s underrated Yossi & Jagger. So after watching the trailer, I didn’t immediately dismiss this as the thriller version of Into the Wild. Instead I read the synopsis and found out that the film is about a soon-to-be-wed couple who decide to hike the Caucasus Mountains in Georgia. Ho-hum, right? But then the following lines popped out to me: “A momentary misstep, a gesture that takes only two or three seconds, a gesture that’s over almost as soon as it begins. But once it is done, it can’t be undone. Once it is done, it threatens to undo everything the couple believed about each other and about themselves.” What’s the misstep, what’s the gesture? It all feels and sounds very early Neil LaBute (back when he was making films about the human condition). So consider me intrigued.

Browne: I think this film is luring me to believe that “in an instant” something bad happens between the couple, but in actuality this is about humans vs. nature, not man vs. woman? Is that what’s going on right now, or am I completely off? I’m usually off, so just know that.

I’m confused by this trailer, but not upset, which is usually the perfect way to get me to spend funds on a movie.

The Sessions (October 26)

Silver: Over the past two years, films like Liberal Arts, Win Win, and Jeff, Who Lives at Home have left me smiling and inspired more than any studio picture. There’s nothing wrong with having your sentimental moral core fortified. I’m a big fan of both Macy and Hawkes, and am happy to see Helen Hunt back onscreen. I’m looking forward to choking up during this film.

Browne: If someone’s losing their virginity, I want to be there when it happens.

If someone’s losing their virginity on film, I want to be there when it happens.

If someone’s losing their virginity, I want to watch it on film.

I give up. You know what I mean?

I want to film someone losing their virginity.

Ugh. Never mind. This movie looks sweet. That’s all.

Filed Under: Jack Reacher, The Man With The Iron Fists, Trailers of the Week

Rembert Browne is a staff writer for Grantland.

Archive @ rembert