You’d think an epic WWII espionage thriller set in Shanghai, starring John Cusack and directed by Mikael “1408” Håfström would be an easy sell. But maybe not, if it’s really just a trip to dullsville. Shanghai was pushed around on the Weinstein Company schedule for a while last year before being pushed off indefinitely. We’ve seen stills for the film, but now there’s an international trailer. If this clips is anything to judge the film by, no wonder TWC didn’t want to spend money to advertise and release it.
This footage looks good, but even with a great cast (Chow Yun-Fat, Gong Li, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Franka Potente, David Morse, Ken Watanabe) it still plays like a picture that is pretty stale. For all the efforts of the score and the editor, there’s not much life here. The nightclub conflict in the middle just made me want to watch the opening to Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. All that being the case, are you really telling me there’s no way to sell this? Given the cast and setting, that’s crazy. There’s got to be a much better trailer that can be cut.
Here’s the official synopsis:
Nothing is what it seems in this Casablanca-style international thriller set in the ancient Chinese city a week before the attack on Pearl Harbor. U.S. Secret Agent Paul Soames (John Cusack) has just arrived to investigate the murder of his best friend, only to become quickly immersed in a web of conspiracy and lies that beset the city. Shadowed by a Japanese intelligence officer Tanaka (Ken Watanabe), Soames’ investigation quickly centers on a charismatic local gangster, Anthony Lanting (Chow Yun-Fat) – and Lanting’s beautiful wife, Anna (Gong Li). Before long, Soames and Anna are involved in an affair that will put everything they have at stake. As national loyalties are traded fast-and-loose for those of the heart, Soames and Anna must race to solve the mystery and make it out of occupied China before the city’s collapse.
The film will be released in China next month; a US release is planned for September, but that could still change. [Twitch]