Death Stranding is owned by Kojima Productions and Sony Interactive Entertainment
I’m not gonna lie, I’ve been pretty down on Kojima’s latest game for a while now. Sure, we all got caught up in the hype when we first saw naked Norman Reedus and were left wondering what could all that nudity mean, but by the time that Del Toro got his own trailer and the babies became more and more… prominent (let’s go with that word) in the narrative, it all felt like a splash of cold water on the face; a revelation that he may be throwing things against the wall to see what sticks rather than doing something with any real thematic heft to it. But I could be wrong! I fully admit that watching trailers like this aren’t always a clear indication of what the final product will be like, such as the case with Dead Island or even The Order 1886, and frankly it all feels very intentional; as if he’s trolling for hundreds of videos breathlessly narrating their ideas of what this could all be about, and playing into that game is harmless but feels rather futile. Still, I’ve also been trying to get better at judging films in a non-literal fashion, and Kojima is if nothing else a VERY frustrated filmmaker! Until someone in Hollywood gives him a chance to direct something he’s gonna take it out on all of us by making the most bizarre and ludicrous trailers imaginable for supposed video games, and while I can’t really get mad at it, I just don’t feel the hype anymore. But hey, I’m already here and there’s a new trailer out with ACTUAL gameplay footage, so let’s at least take a look at what we know so far and see if there’s anything worthwhile to gleam from all this!
…What? – The First Two Trailers
As I said, I gave Kojima a lot of credit for that first trailer which was strange, provocative, and surprisingly vulnerable with some clear themes about loss, grief, and the way that male identity (in how we are socialized) play into those experiences. It sets a very apocalyptic tone with the dead animals, the copious amounts of oil (or an oil like substance), and the washed out aesthetic which goes along with the idea that this world is dying in some way. Not a bad way to kick things off, and Kojima couldn’t have been more popular at the time due to his recent fallout with Konami which made it a perfect storm of intrigue and feel good sentimentality. By the second trailer though, I was starting to get worried. Yeah seeing Pappy McPoyle (also known as Guillermo del Toro) carrying around a baby in a war torn city did advance the narrative at least somewhat since we know how some other people are reacting to the end of the world, but I don’t think the trick works twice and this felt more like a holding pattern than anything else. When we should have been getting hyped for the GAME, it was still being incredibly coy about everything. Now we had to start asking questions about the weird fetus thing, the black goop that keeps showing up, and new things like the soldiers with skulls for heads being lead around by Mads Mikkelsen! Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE Mads Mikkelsen, but I was starting to get a bad feeling that Kojima left entirely to his own devices is gonna end up missing the forest for the trees when developing this.
Triple 9 and all the images you see in this review are owned by Open Road Films
Directed by John Hillcoat
I had not even heard of this movie until I saw a poster for it at the theater. Hell, I don’t even think I saw a trailer for it before the movie came out! That seems kind of odd considering some of the actors they have in here such as Chiwetel Ejiofor, Anthony Mackie, and Kate Winslet. Then again, the movie also has Casey Affleck, Aaron Paul, and Clifton Collins Jr, so maybe it’s not so much an under the radar hit and more of a lower tier movie that happened to luck out in the casting department. Still, with so little to go on as to what this movie was about, it definitely had the chance to surprise me and offer something unexpected. Is this a hidden gem that got sprung on us just as we were leaving February, or is this the just one more subpar mess that we have to deal with before ending one of the worst months for movies? Let’s find out!!
The movie follows way too many characters, but I’ll try to make it as clear as possible (definitely clearer than the movie makes it). You’ve got the leader Michael (Chiwetel Ejifor), the fuck up Gabe (Aaron Paul), the fuck up’s brother Russell (Norman Reedus), the bad cop Marcus (Anthony Mackie) and the even worse cop Franco (Clifton Collins Jr) who make up a team of five criminals that pull of heists I guess. In fact, the movie starts right as they begin their latest scheme which is to knock over a bank looking for something specific for their employers who I believe are Israeli mobsters led by Irina (Kate Winslet). Now the Israeli mobsters need this crew to pull of another job, but the job is neigh impossible in the time they would normally have to do it (three minutes before the cops come). Their plan is to cause a Triple 9 which is the nickname for killing a cop (radio code 999) at which point all the police in the city (the ENTIRE city) will converge on that location, and it JUST SO HAPPENS that Marcus has a new partner in the form of Chris (Casey Affleck) who would be perfect to kill because… reasons. Why would someone kill a cop that is so directly tied to them? Anyway, what the bad guys here aren’t aware of (or aren’t all the concerned about) is Chris’s uncle Jeffrey (Woody Harrelson) who’s investigating the bank robbery and is starting to pick up some clues. Not only that, but things begin to deteriorate between the bad guys and after something PARTICULARLY heinous happens to them, the fuck up starts to… well, fuck up. There’s also a subplot about a Mexican gang causing trouble in the city, something about Chiwetel Ejiofor’s son, and then Gal Gadot shows up a couple times to remind us that she can act even if Batman v Superman turns out to be a giant bomb. Can these guys pull off the heist without killing each other or getting themselves killed first? Will Casey Affleck survive to the end of the movie? Can someone get me flow chart for all this? I’m already confused…