Horrendous ‘Trespass’ With Nicolas Cage, Nicole Kidman
CHICAGO – Joel Schumacher’s “Trespass” represents a new low for the often divisive and (lately) horrendous director of such gems as “The Number 23,” “The Phantom of the Opera,” “Bad Company,” “8MM,” “Batman & Robin,” and “Batman Forever.” The film is getting a very-brief theatrical release before essentially going straight-to-DVD, leading a few industry watchers to question if perhaps one of the stars had it in his or her contract that the film had to run in movie houses. Unless you have a similar contract requiring you see it, avoid at all costs.
“Trespass” is an overheated mess, a thriller with no thrills that allows everyone involved to play up their worst tendencies – Nicolas Cage gets a few over-the-top scenes that will surely get more life as mash-ups on YouTube than in the film itself; Nicole Kidman opens her eyes wide and feigns shock in as unbelievable a way as anyone on screen today; Joel Schumacher doesn’t just underline every twist and turn but he puts neon signs around them, proving again that he may be the least subtle director alive.
Photo credit: Millennium Entertainment
Kyle (Cage) and Sarah Miller (Kidman) look to all outward appearances to be a happy, super-wealthy couple. Of course, neither is true as Kyle has begun a few shady business dealings to hide the fact that his family is not as well-off as they look and has begun to suspect that Sarah is fooling around. Teenage daughter Avery (Liana Liberato of “Trust”) is getting more rebellious and sneaks out to a party at the most opportune time. Not long after Avery jumps out a window, a quartet of home invaders busts in and ties up her parents. They’re looking for the diamonds and cash that their crack planning has told them must be in the house. Of course, things get complicated.
The invaders include leader Elias (Ben Mendelsohn, the only actor involved who does anything worthwhile here and who I actually started to feel sorry for given the fact that he’s the only one putting forth 100% effort), his unstable younger brother Jonah (Cam Gigandet), his junkie stripper girlfriend (Jordana Spiro, in one of the worst performances of the year), and muscle man Ty (Dash Mihok). Of course, there are fractures and torn alliances within the group of invaders as Ty is the kind who wants to just slit everyone’s throat and get out while Jonah has fallen in love with Sarah and wants to keep her safe. You see, Jonah was the guy who installed the security system and got the invasion ball rolling in the first place. Of course, Avery’s coming home soon.
The script for “Trespass” is an absolute train wreck. We often see bad thriller scripts that could have been tightened here or tweaked there – films that needed one more rewrite. A hundred more rewrites couldn’t have saved “Trespass.” It is horrendous at its very core. Not only is it overly complicated, introducing a new character motivation or overheated exchange every three minutes, but it underlines EVERYTHING. “Trespass” is the kind of movie in which the camera lingers on a dangerous curve on the road or a nail gun just to make sure you KNOW they’ll both come back into play later. There’s not a single shot or line of dialogue that isn’t meant to play into a twist. None of it offers depth, character, or realism.
Photo credit: Millennium Entertainment
Ah, realism. There’s basically none of it here. The question of a security company that would hire a clearly-unstable petty criminal to install their alarm might be enough but it’s just the beginning. Nearly every development in this thriller provokes a “Huh?” The back stories of these characters get so unnecessarily complex that it’s amazing that someone green-lit this script in the first place, much less that they got two Oscar-winning actors to star in it. And Schumacher fails to find any tension in the story, pitching the whole thing at the same, overheated level. With every scene providing another revelation or another twist, there’s no gravity or weight to anything. We honestly never care once who lives, who dies, or who gets away.
The actual plot of “Trespass” is so stupid that your mind will wander to the bigger questions – How do movies like this get made? It’s never going to turn enough of a profit and it’s impossible to believe that there was an artistic impetus behind its production. Perhaps Joel Schumacher’s greatest gift is convincing the people he works with that it will all turn out in the end. Maybe he’s an amazing salesman. Because he sure isn’t a good director.