The buddy cop dynamic shines through the mutual aggression Sam Wilson and Bucky Barnes share in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.
The new trailer for The Falcon and the Winter Soldier highlights the dynamic between Sam Wilson and Bucky Barnes, and it’s cooking up to be just the right kind of comfort food for any action movie fan’s soul. Barnes is the old-timer here to do the job, a reformed baddie ready for routines, while Wilson is the new kid who plays by his own rules. Together they’re going to fight Baron Zemo, who’s back to finish the job he started in Captain America: Civil War. The premise is a familiar throwback to classic action movies, and it may the right kind of meaty fun to follow WandaVision.
The buddy cop movie was arguably the hottest genre of the 1980s, relying on a high contrast yin-yang dynamic, fast-paced action sequences and snappy one-liners. It was 1982’s 48 Hours that made the genre a safe bet for directors with a keen eye for action. The film was an instant blockbuster, launching Eddie Murphy’s career into the atmosphere. Pairing the energetic Murphy with a stoic Nick Nolte and giving the two a time-sensitive plot to keep the pressure steady, the film provided the template for dozens of other smash franchises like Lethal Weapon and Rush Hour.
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The Falcon and the Winter Soldier opens its trailer with the visible guarantee that its pair of heroes are on opposite sides, just like the action flicks of yore. Barely tolerating each other with a mediator framed in the center of the shot, they’re not starting out on their new endeavor as friends. Bucky’s aggravation with Sam is shown instead of told, which is useful, since apparently part of his issue is that the pair aren’t great communicators. The trailer keeps up its rapid pressure pace, and the way the trailer places a frantic club sequence close to the previously seen shot of a football game immediately brings to mind The Last Boy Scout, another buddy flick shot in a similar way.
The Red Heat turns up as the trailer reintroduces Helmut Zero. Leaning hard into his goofy yet threatening comic book appearance while keeping the intelligence and intensity he showed in Civil War, Daniel Brühl is channeling Gary Busey at the height of his career. He might be the primary villain, and certainly, he has every reason and motivation to keep himself at the fore. But there are clear teases of other forces at work in the trailer, and it wouldn’t be the biggest surprise to find out Zemo is the terrifyingly competent accomplice to something even deadlier.
It’s the last shot of the trailer that finishes the job of selling the trailer’s old school action aesthetic, though. Returning to the now-exhausted mediator or court-mandated talk therapist trying to make this grudging team work, Sam and Bucky drag out a staring contest long enough for both them and the audience to realize the most important part of their dynamic. The quick twinkle in both men’s eyes gives away the game. No matter how much they annoy each other, it’s going to be much more fun to annoy everyone else.
For enemies thinking they might have an easy time of it without a Captain America ready to interfere at a moment’s notice, they could be fooled that these two heroes stuck at each other’s throats is the best outcome possible. Fortunately, every single one of those classic buddy cop films sees their heroes stop clawing at each other just long enough to thwart their criminal opposition.
Directed by Kari Skogland, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier stars Anthony Mackie, Sebastian Stan, Emily VanCamp, Wyatt Russell, Noah Mills, Carl Lumbly and Daniel Brühl. The series premieres March 19 on Disney+.
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