Ryan Gosling as ARLO
Gary Busey as OFFICER OBIE
Christopher Walken as THE ARMY SERGEANT
Danny Trejo as BIG UGLY
Steve Buscemi as RAY, ALICE’S HUSBAND
and Christina Hendricks as ALICE
We open looking down an empty city street, night; a man, out of focus, is walking toward the camera. We hear only two things: his echoing footsteps, and the tune he’s whistling — the melody of “Alice’s Restaurant”.
As he resolves out darkness and blur into the foreground, we see it’s ARLO. He looks up off frame, whistling trailing off as he stops. From off camera: “Hey, kid.”
ARLO grins. “Hey, Officer Obie. Happy Thanksgiving.” ARLO’s grin goes tight, fast, as he pulls out a pistol and empties the entire clip. The shot are loud, and echo, and then there is silence and a short pause. ARLO drops the gun, starts walking, starts whistling again.
Cut to black. Big music sting, huge brassy frenetic jazz.
ARLO, in a dead serious gravely voiceover while we see short vignettes:
VO: “If one person does it, maybe they say, he’s sick.”
Shot of ARLO in a ravine at the bottom of a short cliff, digging desperately through a pile of trash.
VO: “If two people do it, they’ll think they’re weirdos, they’re crazy.”
A darkened diner, a women in a waitress outfit that’s barely keeping up with her is leaning against the counter and lighting a cigarette. The flame lights her face. A man’s figure moves into the extreme foreground of the left side of the frame, partially obscuring the shot and framing her in. She glances up at him. He says, “Hello, Alice.”
VO: “Three people, they start to notice you’re organized.”
ARLO and ALICE and RAY gape at a dead body and a suitcase full of cocaine. ALICE: “We gotta get rid of this.” ARLO: “We’ll throw it in the ravine.” RAY: “Ain’t that illegal?” ARLO and ALICE look at each other then at RAY, hold a comedy beat for the are-you-fuckin’-kidding-me look.
Finally the VO switches to an actual full frame, claustrophobic close-up shot of ARLO, looking beat-up but hardass and determined, staring right at the camera: “You get a lot of people doing it…”
[jazz stops on a dime, silence, pregnant pause] “…they might just call it a movement.”
Hard cut to a cop car exploding. A building on fire. A couple of people running down the street in panic. Etc. This as serious-as-shit big dramatic music starts walking us into the last act of the trailer.
The big climax is montage shots in between black screens on to which one word at a time WHAMS with a thunk in big bold block capital letters:
[shot of ARLO on top of someone, punching their face in]
[shot of ARMY SERGEANT furious and pounding on his desk]
[shot of RAY putting a gun to his own head and sobbing]
[shot of sexy frantic makeout between ALICE and ARLO]
[BIG UGLY lighting a stick of dynamite]
[ARLO hanging from a bridge, eyes wide, grip starting to fail, SERGEANT standing above with a gun.]
Cut to black and cut music. Slight pause. Gun shots punctuating two more title cards:
ARLO sitting in a holding cell. BIG UGLY approaches, heavy danger vibes, this is a bad scene. He stares right down at ARLO, pops knuckles, and says: “what are you in for?”
Arlo stares right back at him, all intensity. Cut over to super-fast montage of ARLO fighting a guy, ARLO killing the guy, ARLO chucking the guy over a cliff, body falling among a pile of trash.
Cut back to ARLO staring up at BIG UGLY. Deadpan response: “littering”.