' ' Cinema Romantico: Trailer Battle: Hurricane Heist v Hard Rain

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Trailer Battle: Hurricane Heist v Hard Rain

I awoke one morning last week to a text from my friend Rory which merely included a Youtube link fashioned with a “You’re welcome.” Indeed, I was thankful, because what awaited me on the other end of that link was a trailer for a forthcoming film called – [assumes Dave Barry voice] I’m not making this up – “The Hurricane Heist.” It’s a bank heist, see, in a……hurricane! Ai-yee! And upon seeing the trailer for “The Hurricane Heist”, my mind immediately flashed back 20 years to “Hard Rain”, a thriller about a bank heist in a flood that is only memorable for the worst Bruce Springsteen reference in cinematic history (I’m not giving it away for free – you will have to slog through that scrap heap the same as I did lo so many years ago) and the classic 2003 Onion piece in which a woman comes to wholly regret a one night stand when she wakes up to discover her temporary paramour’s DVD collection is littered with “banal choices” like “Bedazzled”, “Narrow Margin”, and, yes, “Hard Rain.” “Don’t you buy a movie because you’re somehow passionate about it and want to watch it again and again?” she wonders. “Does this guy feel that way about ‘Hard Rain?’” That’s good stuff.

As such, almost immediately upon concluding “The Hurricane Heist” trailer, I checked “The Hurricane Heist’s” release date to make a mental note (must see!) and then watched the trailer for “Hard Rain”, which made me nostalgic because that trailer adorned my first theatrical showing of “Titanic.” (So did Howie Long’s “Firestorm.” 1998, man.) And I have to say, the “Hard Rain” trailer is pretty damn good in that It-Looks-So-Bad-It-Could-Be-Good way. It wasn’t, of course, as established, but still, we are not talking about the finished product. We are talking about a two minute burst, and if trailers have become, in their own viral, attention span-less way, a kind of art, I could not help but compare “Hard Rain’s” trailer to “The Hurricane Heist’s.” You know what that means…trailer battle!!!

Trailer Battle: Hurricane Heist v Hard Rain

The trailer for “The Hurricane Heist”, alas, starts out behind the eight ball. That is because the guiding voice of the “Hard Rain” trailer is the immortal Don LaFontaine, meaning that when he says “you have the perfect recipe for the perfect crime”, you don’t snicker, you nod along and think, “You know, he’s right.” The trailer for “The Hurricane Heist”, on the other hand, in these tragic LaFontaine-less times (he died in 2008) forgoes any kind of overwrought narration to just slap the words “the perfect heist” on the screen.

Of course, it’s a bit unfair to ding “The Hurricane Heist” when LaFontaine was simply not available. But, even if we remove LaFontaine from the equation, the manner in which “The Hurricane Heist” trailer parcels out information is suspect. Let me explain.

“The Hurricane Heist” trailer opens with this rather standard-issue CGI shot of a hurricane followed by a character declaring, as if we didn’t already know, “Hurricane’s coming.” That’s the best you got?

Compare this to the “Hard Rain” trailer, which, before LaFontaine even speaks, communicates to us its movie’s environment with a Bible pull. Respect.

And then accentuates that with a shot that pushes in on Randy Quaid in pouring rain on a CB asking “Are we all gonna die?” in this sort of dialed down deranged voice that almost knows it’s in the movie’s trailer.

Quaid points to another way in which “The Hurricane Heist” is positioned behind the eight ball from the beginning. That is, “Hard Rain” star power, or a version of it, with Quaid, with Christian Slater, with Minnie Driver (who would have been on her way to a Best Supporting Actress nomination for “Good Will Hunting” round about this time), and with, yes, Morgan Freeman. “The Hurricane Heist”, on the other hand, has Maggie Grace, which, no offense to Maggie Grace but she can’t hang with Freeman-y gravitas. But then, the trailer does Grace little favors with lines like “This is not good.” That’s not the sort of line that pops, not like Freeman’s resplendent “He’s a slippery one”, which the impeccably-voiced actor turns into cornball poetry. Almost as good is Quaid’s indulging in a Bush I joke: “Read my lips: three million dollars.” That joke, of course, would have been ten years old in 1998, marking it as dated then though it feels that much more dated now, and that passé quality brings us to the trailers’ most stark difference — that is, editing.

“The Hurricane Heist” trailer cuts with that trendy alacrity while the “Hard Rain” trailer not only draws its cuts out a beat or two longer, but goes so far as to just sort of plunk a whole scene, if condensed, down right at the beginning. And so rather than merely mixing a ton of blinding images Bay-style together to fry our eyes, the “Hard Rain” trailer finds surprising cheesy, old-fashioned joy in its edits, like Christian Slater’s saying he buried the money in a cemetery because he doesn’t like to carry around that much cash followed by a cut to a smiling Minnie Driver, that age-old device of cuing us to chuckle at a joke that is not funny.

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking: man, “Hard Rain” is running away with this thing. Not so fast! I haven’t mentioned “The Hurricane Heist” trailer’s secret weapon — namely, The Scorpions’ “Rock You Like A Hurricane.” Indeed, even if the “Hard Rain” trailer indulges in some jokes, like the one above, it takes itself very seriously, whereas “The Hurricane Heist” wants you to know this is not merely escapism; this is platinum level escapism. If you spend the first chunk of that trailer wondering if it wants you to laugh, “Rock You Like A Hurricane” tells you that it does, communicating its unabashed non-commitment to actual quality.

Then again, the “Hard Rain” trailer has its own secret weapon.

This isn’t a show at the State Fair grandstand, son, this is a movie. And Betty White marching out on her stoop and calling Quaid’s character on the carpet might as well be “Hard Rain” dunking on “The Hurricane Heist.” In fact, if I hadn’t already seen “Hard Rain” and known it was supremely awful and awfully boring, I’d probably go watch it.


Alex Withrow said...

Love this. For whatever damn reason, I actually rewatched Hard Rain last month and yeah, what a 90s romp. But it has some fun here and there. But yes, when I watched that Hurricane Heist trailer (which is, in fact, insane) a few weeks back, I immediately thought of Hard Rain.

Nick Prigge said...

I remember being really excited to see Hard Rain because of that trailer. And who knows, maybe if I went back and watched it now I would have more fun. I just remembered it being....not even bad, just kind of blah. I was hoping so much for bad-good.