Warner Bros. has put a substantial number of its eggs in Ben Affleck's basket, attaching the trailer for The Town to Inception and thus ensuring that millions of people will not only see it but see it twice. Repeat viewings of the Town trailer are not nearly as rewarding as repeat viewings of Inception, though. (Watch the wedding ring!) For while at first it seems like a perfectly good trailer for a perfectly good movie -- a movie that has just been announced as the opening-night gala for the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival -- further examination brings out some red flags. Let us consider. (The trailer is posted after the jump, if you want to catch up.)
That title. Ugh, never mind. We'll get nowhere with this. The novel it's based on is called Prince of Thieves, which probably sounded too Robin Hood-y, or maybe it made people think of Prince of Tides, so of course they had to change it. Why they had to change it to the most generic title imaginable, I don't know. Naturally, a gritty, suspenseful crime drama deserves the dullest possible name. "How about The Location?" "Nah, too evocative. What about The Place Where Things Occur?" But like I said, never mind. Movies are supposed to have bad titles now. It's just how things are. Forget it, Jake. It's The Town.
"From the acclaimed director of Gone Baby Gone..." The acclaimed director of Gone Baby Gone happens to be a fellow named Ben Affleck, who also happens to be the star of The Town. You think, "Why wouldn't they just say, 'From acclaimed director Ben Affleck"?" Then you realize you've answered your own question: "From acclaimed director Ben Affleck" would make people giggle, even though it is true. People hear "Gone Baby Gone" and think, "Ooh, I liked that movie!" They hear "director Ben Affleck" and snicker. It's gotta be a bad sign when you can boast having a director who is "acclaimed" but don't want to actually say his name.
"... and the studio that brought you The Departed." Obviously, we're supposed to notice that The Town, like The Departed, is set among criminal types in Boston; therefore The Town must be as good as The Departed. The fact that they came from the same studio confirms it! But think about it. The studio. Not the director, the writer, or even the producer. Just the studio. Saying that The Town is from the studio that brought you The Departed is like saying ice cream is from the species that brought you corduroy. As a distributor, Warner Bros. has more than 5,300 movies to its credit. Even just as the production company, the studio has made more than 3,600 titles. You could just as accurately say, "From the studio that brought you Cleopatra Jones, Cannonball Run II, Police Academy 4: Citizens on Patrol, Curly Sue, and Nights in Rodanthe." (If WB ever has the guts to advertise a movie as being "from the studio that brought you Cleopatra Jones," I will award that movie four stars, sight unseen.)
Uh, is there any movie left after this? A bank teller is traumatized after a robbery. A cop seems to think she's hiding something. Meanwhile, she has met a man who is kind to her. Then it is revealed that this man was one of the masked bank robbers! What a delightful twist! Well, except that it's spelled out in the trailer -- along with a bunch of other plot details that might have been better left unsaid for the time being. Now, for all I know, this stuff all comes up in the first 20 minutes of the movie, and the trailer isn't spoilery. But having seen a few movies in my day, I have a hunch that, yeah, we just watched the whole thing in 2 1/2 minutes.
The Town looks like a meaty, exciting crime thriller. We love Jon Hamm. We occasionally like Ben Affleck. We are not opposed to Rebecca Hall. We are fond of supporting players like Chris Cooper, Jeremy Renner, and Pete Postlethwaite. But it's grasping at straws to mention the tenuous connection to The Departed; it's a little kooky that they won't say the director's name; and they appear to be giving up the whole story in the trailer. (Oh, and the title is terrible.) Maybe we should be worried after all. Our best bet: avoid watching the trailer again. Guess we'll have to step out of the theater for a couple minutes next time we see Inception.