After watching Triple Frontier the other day I went through my typical review prep, which primarily consists of Googling “X Movie Poster,” and this image came across my field of vision:
I cannot tell you how happy it made me. No, not because everyone is lined up with their name. Not because of the nice use of negative space. Not because it’s just five actors that I like and that all look like combinations of the other actors on the poster. It’s because they went Last Name Only.
Last Name Only movie posters are a lost art; a relic of the mid-90s when every movie had at least two action stars headlining. A reminder of a time when 48% of a movie’s budget was spent on explosions. Take a look at this and tell me it doesn’t make you 100% more pumped up to see Double Team:
I just love this whole aesthetic, man. Every single Last Name Only poster is for a movie about someone who was the best at what he did and now just wants to be left alone, getting the crew back together for one last job, two opposites teaming up to fight a common enemy, or, most likely, some combination of the three (Triple Frontier had elements of the first two throughout). It’s funny, it’s badass, it’s absurdly self-serious and over-the-top but also self-aware, it’s my favorite movie poster trope.
Not everyone can pull it off, however. You wouldn’t see a movie if the poster said, like, CERA and EISENBERG. There’s gotta be some oomph to it. Wesley Snipes went through a nice little LNO run-
Al Pacino got in the mix with the rare Non-Action Movie LNO:
Alpha move going LNO but having Sean Penn’s full name on the bottom.
But, of course, it’s all about the Big Three. JCVD, Arnold, and Sly. Sly invented it and quickly passed it on to his friends. Just look at some of these beauties:
JCVD flat-out refused to put his full name on his posters and I respect it so much.
Arnold going LNO ten thousand times and never going with the easier to spell Arnold is the ultimate power move.
The original LNO
No idea how Tango & Cash wasn’t LNO. Massive missed opportunity.
As you can see, LNO movie posters are the pinnacle of movie poster design. It’s not a coincidence that the LNO era was also the Golden Age of tag lines. I suppose we don’t see much LNO anymore because it reached its natural conclusion with Expendables and Expendables 2:
But the first era of LNO posters ending just means it’s time for the second era to begin. I think Affleck is the best candidate to take over and drag us into the new age. He’s got the perfect combination of distinctive name, distinctive look, and no real aspirations for higher art (at least not anymore). Oscar Isaac flirts too much with Oscar movies to fully commit to LNO life, and the other three just aren’t big enough. Gotta be Affleck. Triple Frontier was the first step. Now he just needs to build on it. Team up with Matt Damon again and go LNO. Make a couple action movies over the next five or six years and go LNO. Soon enough, it’ll be back in style. Just have to keep it away from Dylan O’Brien.