Sunday, November 6, 2011

TRESPASS (2011) - Review

Joel Schumacher's been having a hard time lately. His movies mostly end up on the bottom of the pile, ranging from mediocre ("Twelve" and "Blood Creek") to downright abismal ("Number 23"). In the last ten years he's kind of lost his way, drifting far away from his better works, like "Tigerland", "Phone Booth', "Veronica Guerin", or "Falling Down" (way back in the early nineties). And did you know that he was the guy behind the cult classic "The Lost Boys" ? It's hard to imagine that Schumacher was once a relevant filmmaker once you come across a movie like "Trespass".

The movie wouldn't be that bad if it was actually about something. The story should have been straight-forward, but it gets horribly mangled with twists and turns that defy coherence. We are introduced to Kyle Miller (Nicolas Cage), a jewelry broker, with a big house, a cool car, a beautiful wife (Nicole Kidman) and a teenage daughter (Liana Liberato). The stability of his family is threatened when a crew of robbers break in with the intent of stealing some diamonds. They seem to know a lot about him, which suggests that they've been watching very closely for some time. The jewels are locked inside a safe, so the thugs need to force Kyle to open it. The thing is, he won't, convinced of the fact that the robbers will kill them anyway. Things fall apart soon, as the robbers keep trying to negotiate their way in and Kyle trying to negotiate his (and his family's) way out.

This stand off occupies the entire movie, each side trying to find a way to solve their problems by applying all kinds of leverage. Secrets jump out like popcorn in a microwave as the screenwriter tries to cram as many twists as possible in the movie's short running time (85 min). In the process, Nicolas Cage endures a lot beatings, broken bones and gets shot a couple of times, but he's somehow still able to function. The script also tries to humanize the villains, adding backstory and motivation through the use of pointless flashbacks that appear at a time when the movie didn't really need it.

It all feels gimmicky. The plot twists seem to work as an excuse to over-complicate a very simple formula in order to pass it off as a superior thriller. And at the end, when it seemed like the movie might actually show some guts and attempt a dark finale, it pulls off a Hollywood last-minute save that rescues a main character from certain death. For almost 90 minutes, the filmmakers try to make us think we're watching something gritty, then it trips over a feel-good happy ending.

The acting is decent. It's not the kind of movie that allows the actors any freedom with their characters. They act scared, tough, angry, they scream, shout and drop F-bombs a lot. It's all standard fare. While we've come to expect a lot of that from Cage, it's a shame that Nicole Kidman accepted to be in this movie. The producers must have realised that "Trespass" is no instant classic, because at the same time as its October 14 theatrical release (extremely limited), it was also available on VOD (video-on-demand) and on November 1st, it was released on DVD and Blu-Ray.

"Trespass" is a severe disappointment. It has the makings of a decent home invasion thriller, but it stubbornly tries to trip up its own formula with silly plot mechanics and total disregard for its characters. It had the potential to rival "Panic Room", but I suppose Schumacher should have been ready to sink the movie in some really dark places before it could even think of taking on Fincher's thriller. As it is, it's nothing you should see in a hurry and I only recommend it if you have some spare time and nothing else to do or watch.

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