With cinemas around the world closed for months, all eyes are on July, when two major studio releases make their debut: Disney’s Mulan (bumped from its original release in March), and the highly anticipated sci-fi thriller from director Christopher Nolan, Basic principle† It seems that Warner Bros. boldly sticks to the final film’s scheduled release date of July 17, despite all the pandemic-induced uncertainty. The studio just released a new trailer, which made its debut in an unusual medium: play every top of the hour in the popular battle royale game Fortnite.
We know very little about the film, not even the usual carefully crafted official premise, although the film’s title is a palindrome, meaning it reads the same back and forth – a subtle clue. Nolan has kept all the additional details (including character names) well hidden. It stars John David Washington (Ballers, BlacKkKlansman) and Robert Pattinson (Twilight franchise, The lighthouse† The film also features Kenneth Branagh (Murder on the Orient Express), Michael Caine (Inception, interstellar), Clémence Poésy (Fleur Delacour in the Harry Potter movies), Himesh Patel (Yesterday), Elizabeth Debicki (The man from UNCLE), Martin Donovan (ant man), Aaron Taylor Johnson (Super awesome), and Indian film stars Dimple Kapadia and Denzil Smith.
The first trailer was released last December. As I wrote at the time, “Fresh off his Oscar-nominated World War II drama, DunkirkNolan seems to be returning to his high-concept sci-fi roots with Basic principle† That trailer opened with a shot of two men rappelling down a building, seemingly in violation of the laws of physics. “We all believe we would encounter the burning building,” a voiceover tells us. “But until we do. feel heat, we’ll never know.”
This is what we know so far. A man (Washington) undergoes what appears to be a grueling trial to join an elite international squad of spies, which ends with a choice: give up his colleagues or die. He chooses death and wakes up in a hospital to learn that he passed the test. The man’s new assignment: Prevent World War III and save the world – not from a nuclear holocaust, but from ‘something worse’. He has given one code word, ‘principle’, to open the necessary doors.
If you were hoping for a little more information, count those hopes gone. This latest trailer has a lot of action and excitement, as well as a lot of new footage, including a lot more Pattinson, but not a lot of revealing details. “He can communicate with the future,” we hear one man say, presumably referring to Washington’s character. But it’s not exactly time travel, more like “inversion.”
We learn a bit more about the strange artifact that was briefly seen in the first trailer. When Washington fires at it, the bullets are absorbed. “You don’t shoot the bullet, you catch it,” Poésy’s scientist tells him. There are people in the future who will need ‘learn’, we are told, and it seems that they can be saved ‘in the here and now’ by reversing the flow of time. But there are undoubtedly some mind-boggling consequences for doing so. All in all, it looks very Christopher Nolan, and we hope enough theaters reopen in time for the release.
Basic principle is still slated to hit theaters on July 31, 2020 — if the coronavirus is willing.
Listing image by YouTube/Warner Bros.