Universal Pictures released its second trailer for its upcoming, Charlize Theron-starring spiritual successor to John Wick, Atomic Blonde, and although there are plenty of scenes to individually call out, the best part of the trailer that has everyone talking is its use of music cues.
The new trailer features music from New Order and a mashup of Depeche Mode’s “Personal Jesus” with Kanye West’s “Black Skinhead.” The use of music in itself isn’t anything new and doesn’t usually warrant a writeup, but the editors behind Atomic Blonde’s trailers use the different cues in the actual songs to essentially storyboard the trailer.
Each punch and kick correlate to a change in the song. It could be as simple as a change in the beat or as complex as the song fading out, but the trailer uses the cues from the song as a way of telling the story of Theron’s spy and keeping it feeling fresh.
Although it’s interesting, it’s not a first for movies either. In the first John Wick, which was co-directed by Atomic Blonde director David Leitch, the scene where John Wick shoots through the club is also set to the backdrop of a very specific song. Each of those cues lined up perfectly with his actions, and that seems to be the case for what’s happening here, too.
“I was expecting to be annoyed by yet another Kanye song getting awkwardly shoehorned in a movie trailer, but damn that mashup remix was awesome,” one person commented on the trailer.
“That combo music sync though,” another wrote. “Every single shot of action in this seems flawlessly composed.”
This trailer exemplifies the recent trend of songs driving trailer choreography. Trailers are a piece of advertising, but they’ve become short films in themselves; they hype a product while also giving the viewer an entertaining two- to three-minute video. Using music that resonates with audiences and combining it with some of the better scenes from the movie accomplishes the task. Going one step further and creating a choreography between the two establishes a more elaborate, unique experience for that specific trailer.
Lots of trailers use West’s “Black Skinhead,” but only one mashes it up with Depeche Mode and times each kick, shot or punch to the song’s beat.
Atomic Blonde, which follows a spy sent alone to Berlin to deliver a priceless dossier —and not get killed in the process — made its debut at South by Southwest to pretty good reviews. The movie will be released in theaters across the country on July 28.