5-Word 365 #269 – Trespass

A bit later than usual today. Apparently, if you haven’t really slept in three days, a half-hour nap can turn into eight hours without warning. In other news, I have fired my alarm clock.

Trespass

Straight to video. Wonder why?

Diamond dealer Kyle Miller (Nicolas Cage) and his family are faced with their worst nightmare when a gang of murderous thieves invade their secluded home. As the night goes on, and new revelations come to light, Kyle will find out how far he will go to protect his loved ones.

Home invasion flicks can go down many different roads when it comes to tone. There are horror films, action films, hi-tech thrillers, even slapstick comedy. This latest effort from director Joel Schumacher chooses the psychological thriller route, but it seems nobody remembered to bring the logical part. In a story plagued with ever more ludicrous plot developments, we don’t even full-bore Cage to lighten things up.

Karl Gajdusek’s script makes the cardinal error of making the bad guy be the most charismatic and sympathetic character on screen. Ben Mendelsohn’s Elias is the one I really wanted to see win. Here’s a guy who just wants to sell some dope, make some cash, help get his junkie stripper girlfriend’s daughter out of care and disappear to Mexico for some happily-ever-afters. A noble intention, I’m sure you’ll agree. Unfortunately, he’s saddled with a gang of confederates who change allegiances and develop interesting new medical conditions every ten minutes like clockwork, in an unsuccessful attempt to create drama out of thin air.

Using the hostages to find your contact lens? That’s just bad manners.

The actors mostly try to raise the excitement levels from moribund to at least watchable. As well as Mendelsohn (last seen as the weaselly John Daggett in The Dark Knight Rises), Jordana Spiro is fun as the aforementioned junkie stripper girlfriend. It’s a seriously underwritten role – actually, the word “underwritten” doesn’t even cover it. I think she has maybe three lines – but her presence brings a much-needed shot of unpredictability to proceedings, especially whenever she’s waving around that 9mm. She is also responsible for the film’s only vague attempt at humour: on first arriving at this million-dollar mansion the first thing she does is raid the wife’s closet, spending the rest of the flick in a distinctly impractical evening dress.

Cage plays Miller as a hustler one bad deal away from bankruptcy. A hustler with an extraordinarily ostentatious safe behind his office wall, but that’s a complaint for another day. He spends a lot of effort trying to talk his way out of trouble, but only unleashes Crazy Cage in one early scene. As the film goes on he just gets more and more restrained, and I’m not just talking about the duct tape. Nicole Kidman plays his wife Sarah, architect of the Miller’s fantasy house. Her name probably got Schumacher an extra couple of million on the budget but the Oscar-winner doesn’t get to do much besides scream and cry, except for a clumsily-handled Rashomonesque flashback sequence.

Yeah, you’ve been shot in the leg and held hostage at gunpoint in your own home all night, but look on the bright side. You’re still married to Nicole Kidman.

DP Andrzej Bortkowiak tries to pep up the action by never sitting still for more than three seconds at a time. The camera is literally all over the place on this film. It’s full of Dutch angles, whip pans, all the tricks. Also, anytime someone gets hit and falls over, there is an insert shot lasting perhaps four frames and consisting of the camera spinning in a blur. This is meant to emulate the disorientation of the character falling down. Unfortunately, since someone is getting hit and falling over every five minutes or so, the net result is nothing but steadily increasing annoyance.

This is one of those films that doesn’t seem to have any point to it besides entertainment. That’s not an ignoble goal; pretention for its own sake can be hugely irritating. Unfortunately Trespass doesn’t even succeed at its meagre ambitions. Tired and tiresome.

2 comments

  1. ithinkthereforeiamsterdam · September 27, 2012

    I hate Nicolas Cage. I can never see him as anything other than Nicolas Cage making noise with his face while someone films him and pays him waaaay too much money. His appeal mystifies me and I’m thoroughly disappointed he’ll be in Kick Ass 2. *Shakes fist* damn you Caaage!!

    • Ryan McNeely · September 27, 2012

      I love him for exactly the same reason! He’s really restrained in this flick though, but I still can’t recommend it to you.
      I still can’t decide if I think Kick Ass 2 is a good idea. The forst was fun but I’ve got a horrible feeling that the sequel just won’t work.

Go ahead, punk. Make my day.

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