We watch a lot of movie trailers here at ScreenCrave, and, as we inch closer to summer with its ever-increasing torrent of new films, we’re seeing more and more previews with each passing day. As we do so, we can’t help but notice some similarities, repetitions, and clichés among them. Here at Trailer Park, we’ll be offering a rundown of those clichés, where they come from, and which trailers share them. For our first installment, we’ll be breaking down one of summer’s most ever-present previews: The Heist Movie Trailer.
Heist films always follow a certain formula, and because of that they fall victim to a list of endless clichés. This is how it goes: a team is assembled to come together and do ‘one last job’ that is described as ‘easy’ with a ‘huge payoff’, but something always goes wrong, igniting car chases, gun fire, sex, etc. What makes it onto the movie trailer is just as formulaic as what we see in the final product: a team comes together, someone makes a snarky comment about robbing a bank/painting/diamond, and then a lengthy montage filled with images of car chases, sex scenes, gun fire follows, finished off by a shot of the whole cast walking side-by-side in slow motion. Sound familiar? Let’s go over the Top 10 Clichés Of The Heist Movie Trailer.
10. Walking Side-By-Side
Used in: Reservoir Dogs (1992), Fast Five (2011), Heat (1995), The Italian Job (2003), 21 (2008), Takers (2010)
This Fast Five shot is no where near as bad as the one in The Takers trailer, where you see Idris Elba & Co. walking side-by-side, in slow motion, as a helicopter explodes behind them. It’s a great cinematic moment (yeah, right).
As Seen In: Fast Five
Used In: The Town (2010), Contraband (2012), Inside Man (2006), Quick Change (1990), 3000 Miles To Graceland (2001), Reindeer Games (2000), Point Break (1991), Set It Off (1996)
Why are we being shown numerous costumes like it’s some sort of Fall Fashion Halloween Preview? We didn’t sign up for a fashion show. Plus, the disguises that are often used don’t help thieves blend in, instead they’re calling more attention to themselves.
As Seen In: The Town
8. Damsel In Distress Moment
Used in: The Town (2010), Contraband (2012), Enemy of the State (1998), The Getaway (1994)
The Damsel in Distress is always a wife or girlfriend; she’s a secondary yet gorgeous-looking character who is always the subject of threats and blackmail (at least that’s how it appears in the trailer). Her husband/boyfriend has to ‘get the goods’ or she’s a goner.
As Seen In: Contraband
7. Sexy Time
Used in: 3000 Miles To Graceland (2001), Reindeer Games (2000), Point Break (1991), Set It Off (1996), The Rock (1981), A Fish Called Wanda (1988), Sneakers (1992), Sexy Beast (2000), The Bank Job (2008)
Almost all heist movie trailers include a brief glimpse of a sex scene. It’s right there, intertwined with the explosions, gun fire and car chases. It’s always between two very sexy looking people, too.
As Seen In: After The Sunset
6. The Loony Character
Used in: Gone In 60 Seconds (2000), The Italian Job (2000), 21 (2008), The Rock (1996), Contraband (2012), RocknRolla (2008), 3000 Miles To Graceland (2001)
In a every group, there’s always a quirky, loony character (who probably likes playing with fire a little too much). The trailer is letting us know that not only will this movie be a fest of gun fire, sexy babes and explosions, but there will also be some funny moments (courtesy of the loony character).
As Seen In: 21
5. The Car Chase (Helicopters Are Often Included)
Used In: Thief (1981), Reservoir Dogs (1992), Quick Change (1990), Ronin (1998), The Italian Job (2003), Gone In 60 Seconds (2000), Fast Five (2011), 3000 Miles To Graceland (2001)
Car chases are extremely cliché. It’s always the same thing: a fancy car chasing another fancy car, closeup of the car logo (product placement at its best, folks), helicopters getting too close to the ground and eventually exploding.
As Heard In: The Italian Job
4. Heist Goes Wrong
Used In: Man On A Ledge (2012), The Italian Job (2003), Takers (2010), Quick Change (1990), Entrapment (1999)
Tensions are always high when people are trying to pull off a job; whether or not the heist goes wrong is beside the point. My problem with this cliche is that we’re always told about it in the trailer. It’s a giant spoiler that should be kept a secret until we watch the movie (Man On A Ledge is a perfect example of this).
As Seen In: Man On A Ledge
3. Girls With Guns
Used In: Reindeer Games (2000), Set It Off (1996), Out of Sight (1998), Dead Presidents (1995), Happiness (1998), Point Break (1991)
Even though the movie is about a group of guys pulling a job, a brief clip of a girl with a gun always manages to make it into the trailer. It’s amazing how fast these girls learn to handle a gun. It’s so amazing, it’s unbelievable.
As Seen/Heard In: Out Of Sight
2. The Hammer
Used In: Contraband (2012), Out Of Sight (1998), The Usual Suspects (1995), The Gataway (1994), Fast Five (2011), The Talking of Pelham 123 (2009), RocknRolla (2008), Heat (1995), Bandits (2001), Reindeer Games (2000), Point Break (1991), Set It Off (1996)
You hear this all the time, in between actor introductions and the planning of the heist – the ‘click-clack’ otherwise known as The Hammer’. It’s main purpose is for dramatic effect, like an exclamation point at the end of a sentence. But like exclamation points, The Hammer isn’t necessary unless we’re about to see/hear some real gun fire (because that’s what the ‘click-clack’ means in real life, that you’re about to shoot fire), which we know is never the case in movie trailers or movies.
As Seen In: The Getaway
1. Show Me The Cash!
Used In: The Town (2010), Contraband (2012), Takers (2010), 21 (2008), The Getaway (1994), 3000 Miles To Graceland (2001), The Town (2010), Contraband (2012), Takers (2010), 21 (2008), The Getaway (1994), 3000 Miles To Graceland (2001), Reindeer Games (2000), Set It Off (1996)
These days, grand theft can be/should be done via laptop, but these thieves still prefer to go the old fashion way by robbing banks for stacks of cash. Looks like no one sent them the memo that cash is basically useless.
As Seen In: Takers
These are just some of the clichés that should disappear from heist movie trailers.
What are some of the clichés you see? And which do you think should disappear?