Trespass Movie Review
Trespass is a 2011 psychological thriller directed by Joel Schumacher (Falling Down, Phone Booth) and stars Nicolas Cage (Kick Ass) and Nicole Kidman (Australia) as a security conscious couple who get taken hostage by extortionists. The film was pulled from cinemas after a mere 10 days and was then released 18 days later on home media instead, beating the record of 29 days previously held by Kelly Clarkson's From Justin To Kelly.
Nicolas Cage is an actor that when he tries he can pull off amazing performances such as in Face/Off, Con Air or Kick Ass. Sadly though, Trespass is not one of those occasions and it really shows when some of the others are trying their best to add depth to their rather one dimensional characters. Admittedly though, he does get the brunt of the worst characterisation and dialogue, so how much is actually down to his performance is arguable. Kidman seems to be trying her best with the material she has (a bizarre red herring twist that really goes nowhere and just doubles back on itself) as does Liana Liberato (Trust) who plays their daughter, Avery.
Cam Gigandet (Twilight) plays an obsessive psychopath with all the depth of a pancake, instead replacing character development with a facial expression that never changes and lots of staring whilst Jordana Spiro (From Dusk Till Dawn 3) cries and whines her way through her stripper drug addict cliché, albeit with a few rather creepy dressing up sequences where she shows some potential as a possible future 'scream queen'. Dash Mihok (Punisher: War Zone) puts in a reasonable amount of effort as the over-eager and slightly maladjusted heavy man, Ty, creating an atmosphere of unease and unpredictability with every line of dialogue. But it's their leader, Elias, who ultimately steals the show; Ben Mendelsohn (Knowing) is fantastic, putting in far more effort than necessary to make his character believable and oddly amicable. By the start of act two, the film effectively becomes a depiction of his slow demise from calm and controlled leader to desperate, scared and unsure of himself victim; all the while toying with the audience through cryptic lies and barefaced honesty.
Schumacher is a director who knows how to handle tension and to his credit, Trespass works as reasonable if not rather bland thriller. The protagonist are just so incredibly boring in comparison to the bad guys, perhaps this was the intention but regardless the audience will find it very difficult to ever really care about the good guys winning (an element which, to be fair, the Straw Dogs remake handled very well). The extortionists are a fantastic group to follow as their hierarchy slowly dissolves, relations break down and their plans continue to fail at every turn but am I really supposed to want them to win? It's almost like an underdog story for the world's most badly managed and poorly researched hostage takers.
Lack of focus is the best way to summarize Trespass's problems. The film initially presents the dysfunctional family as the main characters but soon Gigandet seems to take centre place, then Mendelsohn is seemingly the main focus, then back to Gigandet and Kidman, then back to Nicolas Cage, then Liberto turns up again, back to Kidman etc. etc. This sort of sprawling focus tends to only work if the audience has one clear main character that they can sympathise and identify with following their journey through the confusing events and matching their surprise to the shocking revelations. However, none of the main characters are that likeable or interesting that we want to follow them. By the end of the film, I was rooting for Mendelsohn to get the happily ever after with Spiro, and I only liked Spiro's character when she kept her mouth shut.
Trespass serves as a perfectly competent thriller, hardly pushing the boat out but not the worst way to spend 90 minutes of your life; what should have been a recipe for success, ends up being a bit of a mess. Trespass could have been an analysis of what distinguishes hero from villain but that gets lost under the many plot elements that are just awkwardly thrown in for the sake of false tension or dismissed for the sake of ease. Not Cage's finest hour but probably Mendelsohn's, Trespass is a 'watch once' kind of film.