November 1, 2011
written by: Karl Gajdusek
produced by: Boaz Davidson, Avi Lerner, David Winkler & Irwin Winkler
directed by: Joel Schaumacher
rating: R (for violence and terror, pervasive language and some brief drug use)
runtime: 91 min.
U.S. release date: September 21, 2001 (Toronto Film Festival, VOD & iTunes) & October 14, 2011 (limited)
DVD & Blu-ray release date: November 1, 2011
And now for something completely awful. Not just awful for its routine home-invasion screenplay, stereotypical characters, and bland acting, but “Trespass” is awful for ignoring what it could’ve been and instead settling on being boring and stupid. That shouldn’t come as a surprise since we haven’t seen a decent movie from director Joel Schumacher in quite some time. Maybe he was hoping that reuniting with the two Nics (Cage from “8MM” and Kidman from “Batman Forever”) would result in something other than the duds he’s been churning out. Whatever it was that convinced these three to work together again, it doesn’t show.
Kyle Miller (Nicolas Cage) is a diamond merchant currently overseeing the expansion of his mansion, designed by his neglected wife, Sarah (Nicole Kidman). He comes across as a slick huckster on the phone with prospective clients, with his rose-tinted glasses, expensive suits, and convertible. He is recognizably uptight and disconnected from his family, including Avery (Liana Liberato), his rebellious teen daughter, who he leaves Sarah to deal with. He’s the kind of “provider” who has to remind his fragile wife that everything he does, all the work that occupies his time, he does for his family.
With stereotypical domestic dysfunction in place and overwrought dialogue delivered, it’s now time for Schumacher’s home invaders to show up. The fractured family now has to deal with a quartet of stressed-out armed baddies, posing as home security guards, bringing along their own unstable dynamic. Led by Elias (Ben Mendelsohn, “Animal Kingdom”), these criminals demand diamonds, then money (as long as they get $180, 000 worth), yet seem to lose any leverage quite easily (not in a comical way, either). That could be because Elias’ younger brother, Jonah (Cam Gigandet, “Twilight”) has conflicting motives, or maybe because the token bruiser (Dash Mihok) and manic cokehead (Jordana Spiro), that round out this not-so-fantastic four, only exasperate matters.
Needless to say, these are not career criminals nor have they really thought this whole thing through. But hey – they know how to point a gun at someone’s head and yell a lot. Only thing is, Kyle can yell too (you learn that in Nicolas Cage 101), and Sarah can pout, cry, and scream (Kidman does this in her sleep!), add to that a whiney teen, and it looks like these rich white people are more than meets the eye….and/or these crooks are really stupid.
In his refusal to open his safe (aesthetically located – as he calls it – behind a wall-mounted piece of art), Kyle attempts to get the upper hand. Bravo for him. He is, after all, a smooth talker when it comes to moving diamonds. But for a man who works so hard for the betterment of his family, he sure doesn’t hesitate to put their lives in danger. This movie cares not to delve into the real-life ramifications of such a move, so why should you?
The situation goes from bad to worse as the exhausting evening continues, and so does everything about the movie. It never becomes a battle of the wits between the captors and captives, and it never gets too frightening or desperate. That’s because everyone is too busy screaming at each other. In the end, as the mansion is in flames, I found myself rooting for the fire.
It’s hard to say what’s worse here: the unimaginative script by Karl Gajdusek or the by-the-numbers directing we get from Joel Schumacher. Since Schumacher’s touch is unrecognizable here, I’m gonna put the cast the first stone on the writing. Throughout the film, we get some of the most reprehensibly bad flashback scenes that fill in the blanks for those few viewers still interested. Of those scenes, the laughably bad scenes between Gigandet and Kidman are the best/worst, coming across like some bad Lifetime movie of the week. Just wretched stuff.
By now, it’s become just as tiring to hear all the Cage rage with each new movie, just as it is to be subjected to the actor’s hysterics. It’s come to the point where an awfully bad performance by Cage, winds up being a delight (although none of his recent movies come to mind). His real-life financial woes and legal battles are well-documented, so it’s no surprise he has a hard time saying “No” to any script that’s thrown his way. As for Kidman – who did she owe a favor? I want to believe that at some point in her career she has come across a good script – so what’s the deal here?
If anything, this movie is a reminder that actors are just as flawed as you and I and despite their talent, they have a propensity to make lousy choices, just like you and me. What saddens and infuriates me most about “Trespass” is the fact that crap like this can even get made. When there are so many movies out there trying to get greenlit, studios would rather take their chance on two Oscar winners (which means nothing) and one has-been director. Breaking news: that math doesn’t add up any more.
I’m going to have to look up that other “Trespass” now, the one directed by Walter Hill, starring the two Ices (Cube & T), Bill Paxton, and William Sandler – a superior flick without “Academy Award winners”.