Too Old to Die Young
Nicolas Winding Refn likes things … slow. He likes … to take … pregnant … pauses … before something … bad … suddenly … HAPPENS! This can go one of two ways. When there’s the threat of violence, a dramatic tension reverberating throughout the scene, it can be good fun – in the vein of patient genre subverters like Tarantino and S Craig Zahler – particularly when he drops the pretentions and goes for an exciting set piece. But when it’s just empty provocation, snippets of inane dialogue between brooding expressions, there are few filmmakers capable of being more insufferable.
His new, indulgent TV series, Too Old to Die Young – specifically, episodes four and five – mostly falls in column B. It follows Martin (Miles Teller), who brings Ryan Gosling’s trademark silent non-energy in Drive to a similar non-role. He’s a cop by day and hitman by night, who sleepwalks through all of his scenes before having a quiet moral crisis during one of his jobs. He doesn’t want to kill people over small sums of money – he wants to kill the worst of the worst. So his bosses put him on the trail of two degenerate pornographer brothers, specialising in all things illegal and immoral.
There are other threads involving John Hawkes as a fellow hitman, but they don’t go anywhere as they’ll probably be explored elsewhere in the series. So it isn’t until a full hour in that there’s any sense of a pulse. Teller’s attempts to assassinate the pornographers – one of whom is played by a slimy James Urbaniak, who steals the show – contain some genuinely thrilling moments, including a cheekily self-reflexive car chase, scored to Barry Manilow. But they’re surrounded by drivel that robs the material of its effectiveness. Refn’s attempts to satirise LA are as broad as ever, and one wonders if the rest of the series follows the same pattern, randomly throwing in scenes like those with Billy Baldwin with cruel, thick-headed irony. There are the same usual caveats with Refn; his work looks gorgeous, and Cliff Martinez’s score is typically entrancing. But for an artist who proclaims himself to be on the edge of the avant-garde, this all looks and sounds very familiar.
Too Old to Die Young is available on Amazon Prime Video on 14 June 2019.
Read more reviews from our Cannes Film Festival 2019 coverage here.
For further information about the event visit the Cannes Film Festival website here.
Watch the trailer and a clip from Too Old to Die Young here: