Artists whose work is described as self-indulgent tend to be divisive. In fact, for the most part, the term self-indulgent is used as a criticism because the creative types in question are more focused on fulfilling themselves instead of the audience. People responding to their work is merely a bonus. That said, artists are more interesting when they follow their whims without worrying about what other people will think.
Nicolas Winding Refn is one filmmaker who fits this description — and he knows it too. The Drive director has a vision that’s truly his own, and his work very much embraces its self-indulgent qualities. As he previously told The A.V. Club, “I think that part of creativity is also falling in love with your own narcissism: accepting it, using it as an asset.” Whether or not you think Refn’s narcissism is an asset depends on your enjoyment of his films, but he has amassed a legion of fans — myself included –who love his style.
Understandably, Refn is not everyone’s cup of tea. However, if you’re a fan of his madness, you’ll be pleased to know that his upcoming Amazon series, Too Old To Die, Young, is set to debut on the streaming service this summer and will mark a return to the neo-noir leanings of Drive and Only God Forgives that made the director a household name.
Check out the trailer below:
Boasting a cast that includes Miles Teller, William Baldwin, Jena Malone, and John Hawkes, the story follows a Los Angeles police officer (Teller) who, along with the man who shot his colleague, enters a criminal underworld populated with a myriad of wrongdoers, including hit men, Yakuza syndicates, Cartel assassins, the Russian mafia, and homicidal teenage gangs.
As is the case with most of Refn’s oeuvre, Too Old to Die Young won’t buck Refn’s trend of telling violent stories that focus heavily on morally questionable characters with bleak worldviews, which is what makes his brand of entertainment so endlessly fascinating.
The show will also retain the neon-drenched visuals and synthy scores that his work is synonymous with, so don’t expect some kind of artistic departure from the Danish maverick’s films. If anything, this series will be some full-force Refn overload. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, the series’ co-writer Ed Brubaker described Too Old to Die Young as “the most Nicolas Winding Refn thing that ever existed.”
On top of that, all ten episodes are 90 minutes long. That’s 16 hours of Refn to either bask in or endure. Even his most ardent fans wouldn’t describe the director’s work as easy to digest at the best of times. A series that’s essentially a bunch of mini-movies will be a rewarding watch, but it’s going to require some patience from the audience. Additionally, the creative freedom afforded by Amazon Studios has probably inspired Refn and Brubaker to take some strange turns along the way to the final destination. I can’t even imagine the craziness that’s in store for us.
Refn unleashing his demented vision in a more long-form format and embracing the self-indulgent elements of his work makes this series essential viewing for some of us. Others will want to run for the hills at the thought of it. Too Old to Die Young looks dark, stylish, and bleak, and at 16 hours, Refn and Brubaker will have plenty of time to guide us through the criminal underbelly and thoroughly explore the heart of darkness. The underworld is playground they thrive in, and spending all that time, there is bound to produce some interesting revelations.
Too Old to Die Young is set to premiere on Amazon Prime on June 14.