We were already quite familiar with James Franco’s stranger sensibilities before he signed on to Harmony Korine’s Spring Breakers, but the haunting 2013 picture did render the likes of its other stars, Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens, in a light not only yet surprising but also thought more or less impossible. The sort of light that may well drape the likes of Idris Elba, Al Pacino, and Robert Pattinson in Korine's movie, The Trap.
Granted, Elba, Pacino, and Pattinson are not products of the Disney Channel iconography like Gomez and Hudgens were, and, as such, don’t live quite as far from the pitch black and surreal ideologies of Korine’s cinema. That said, we’ll still be in for something altogether new when we see them embrace the Korine aesthetic in The Trap, alongside Franco once more, as well as Benicio del Toro (who, like Franco, is already no stranger to the strange).
As did Spring Breakers, The Trap will take place in the heart of Florida’s festering club music scene, with Elba now signed on to play the part of a rapper (a role previously associated with Jamie Foxx, which probably would have been even more of an uprooting) targeted in a revenge plot machinated by his recently paroled former friend, del Toro. Pacino is meant to play del Toro’s parole officer, while Franco and Pattinson’s roles remain undisclosed.
While not everyone is a fan of Korine’s aesthetic — as indicated by Spring Breakers’ middling 65% Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes — it’d be tough to discredit him as someone playing fervently against the tide of contemporary Hollywood. Every single one of Korine’s features and short films is steeped in the sort of twisted, mind-bending chaos that even the most ambitious of standard studio produced movies couldn’t hope to achieve. And, if nothing else, there is value in the persistent production of something so very different.
This is what makes The Trap such a particularly exciting venture for Korine. Yes, he has worked with big name stars before — notably Franco, Gomez, and Hudgens in Spring Breakers and Val Kilmer in the anthology film The Fourth Dimension — but The Trap marks Korine’s first A-lister lineup.
He marshals Elba (presently at the top of his game with two hit TV shows under his belt, no shortage of noteworthy feature films on the docket, and ever-present rumblings about his future as James Bond), Pattinson (a teen movie heartthrob and box office majesty, seeping gradually into more sophisticated genre cinema like Cosmopolis and The Rover), and Pacino (a veteran and industry kingpin whose any project would garner paramount attention), each to work quite against the “type” established by years of success in his own racket.
It’ll be exciting to see Elba, now considered an apex performer, drop his cool and inviting veneer to play another one of Korine’s underworld parasites, no doubt a man much poorer in character than he is in material possession. (You’ll recall Franco’s character from Spring Breakers espousing pride over his grand library of colored shorts). Elba is more often than not a hero in his projects, playing recently an Asgardian gatekeeper, a ukulele-playing spaceship captain, and Nelson Mandela. Of course, we’ve seen glimmers of his seedier side, from The Wire to 2013’s No Good Deed. Even when playing the heavy, Elba always carries himself with an enviable gusto… but viewers can prepare to see that shattered come entry into Korine’s world: a place where nobody warrants self-pride.
While Pattinson has tampered in the odd and the dark, such as in David Cronenberg’s Cosmopolis and David Michôd’s The Rover, the young actor has quite a storm to brave before the Twilight image isn’t the thing most people know him for. Lauded for his work in both of the aforementioned movies, Pattinson’s turn for the severely twisted as a denizen of Korine’s Miami might in fact be the most promising of these recently announced roles. Those who saw Cosmopolis know he can play offset and menacing. Those who saw The Rover know he can play eerie and mentally askew. But the fun of it all: most people didn’t see those films, but did only see Pattinson’s Twilight pictures. If TwiHards flock to The Trap the way Disney Channel junkies flocked to Spring Breakers, expectations will be thrown for a worldview-tearing loop.
Pacino’s will likely be the most interesting reinvention of all. Despite decades of exploration in a wide variety of projects, Pacino hasn’t branded his image with a prospect as potentially extreme as any Korine movie promises to be. The world shares a unanimous idea of what Al Pacino is. He’s Frank Serpico, or Sonny Wortznik, or Lt. Col. Frank Slade — all distinct characters, though plucked from the same tree. Who knows what sort of demonic monstrosity Korine will whip up for Pacino in The Trap? The very idea that an actor like Pacino will be trying something new makes this turn as exciting as a casting announcement gets.
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