TriStar Pictures has released the first trailer for Oscar-winning director Ang Lee‘s Iraq War drama Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk. Based on the novel of the same name by Ben Fountain and shot at an unprecedented 120 frames per second in 4K native 3D, the film revolves around a squad of soldiers being heralded as heroes at the halftime show of a Thanksgiving Day football game, as flashbacks reveal what really happened during their harrowing Iraq War battle.
The first thing you’ll notice in the trailer is the look of the film, as not only the clarity and sense of movement that the 120 fps allows comes through but also Lee’s recognizable style. That shot of Vin Diesel and Joe Alwyn, as the titular soldier, under the crooked tree toward the end is one of Lee’s signature moves: a reflection of the askew inner self in an image of nature. There are a handful of similarly intriguing images in the trailer – including the halftime show alluded to in the title – and if nothing else, the Oscar-bound war film should be a pleasure to watch on purely visual levels.
Of course, Lee is clearly after something much bigger than simple aesthetics here. Like Clint Eastwood‘s superb Flags of Our Fathers, the hook of Lee’s latest is the chasm that exists between what war really is and what Americans at home see it as, namely a place where American heroes are made and often prove themselves. That is, to a degree, true, but what is less reported and far harder to swallow is the ugliness of war, the unending death, mutilation, and torture that soldiers wade through, if they’re lucky enough to survive. Lee, working from Jean-Christophe Castelli‘s script, seems to be looking to uncover not only the horrors of modern-day combat but also the waves of psychological torment that so regularly follow active service.
We shall see just how committed Lee is to these controversial truths when the film sees release this fall; the timing of the release would rather perfectly align with the New York Film Festival and the Toronto International Film Festival. I’ll admit that I haven’t outright loved a Lee film since Brokeback Mountain, but considering the subject material here, this could end up being one of the director’s key works if he actually goes as far as too confront these concepts, rather than merely bring them up.
Watch the first Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk trailer below. The film stars Alwyn, Diesel, Kristen Stewart, Chris Tucker, Garrett Hedlund, and Steve Martin. Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk opens in theaters on November 11th.
Here’s the official synopsis for Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk:
Three-time Academy Award® winner Ang Lee brings his extraordinary vision to Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, based on the widely-acclaimed, bestselling novel. The film is told from the point of view of 19-year-old private Billy Lynn (newcomer Joe Alwyn) who, along with his fellow soldiers in Bravo Squad, becomes a hero after a harrowing Iraq battle and is brought home temporarily for a victory tour. Through flashbacks, culminating at the spectacular halftime show of the Thanksgiving Day football game, the film reveals what really happened to the squad – contrasting the realities of the war with America’s perceptions. The film also stars Kristen Stewart, Chris Tucker, Garrett Hedlund, with Vin Diesel, and Steve Martin. Lee used new technology, shooting at an ultra-high frame rate for the first time in film history, to create an immersive digital experience helping him dramatize war in a way never seen before.