War movies are back, thanks in part to Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk, but even if they weren’t the trailers for Sam Mendes’ 1917 would still be effective. Set during World War I, the thriller follows, in fake real-time, two soldiers tasked with hand-delivering a message to troops who are a mere two hours from marching into a death trap. And if that doesn’t sound gripping, here’s an ad that’s even more gripping than the last.
Like the movie, in limited theaters on Christmas Day and going wide in on January 10, the trailer offers an embarrassment of Brits, from Colin Firth delivering the orders to our fresh-faced heroes (George MacKay and Dean-Charles Chapman) to Fleabag‘s resident “hot priest” Andrew Scott hunkering in the trenches to Benedict Cumberbatch, who scores the grim line, “There’s only one way this ends: Last man standing.” (It’s not clear what this means, as quite a lot of people survived WWI.)
The trailer also leans heavily on those behind the camera, chiefly Mendes, here ID’d as the director of Skyfall, but not Spectre, his second Bond movie, nor American Beauty, which won a mess of Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Director, twenty years ago. And don’t let the hyper-cutting fool you: 1917 goes to great lengths to hide any edits, à la Alfred Hitchcock’s Rope, making the whole thing look like a single take courtesy of legendary cinematographer Roger Deakins. If the full movie winds up being kind of dull, at least we’ll have these killer ads.