REVIEW: Nicole Kidman and Nicolas Cage Fend Off Half-Assed Home Invasion in Trespass
There's so much shouting in Joel Schumacher's hostage thriller Trespass that you start to imagine the cast must have had to take every third day off to sit around in wool scarves with lemon tea focusing on regaining the ability to speak. If you were to down a shot every time someone screams "Go!" or "Run!" you'd expire of alcohol poisoning before the credits ran. Taking place over the course of one shrieky evening, the film presents a home invasion scenario to fit up with our new era of class warfare accusations -- a group of desperate thugs posing as policemen force their way into the high-end lakeside home of a diamond dealer and his family, who turn out to be struggling through their own financial dire straits.
Fittingly, Trespass offers a parallel demonstration of how Hollywood currency ain't what it used to be either. Schumacher's in a down cycle after the nominally released 2009 Blood Creek and 2010's awful Twelve, but Trespass, which from the cheesy font in which its title appears onward has a decidedly low-rent feel and scope, also stars Nicolas Cage and Nicole Kidman as Kyle and Sarah Miller, the upper middle class couple under fire. Even before the arrival of the guys bearing guns and a crack-addict girlfriend, the Millers' apparent domestic bliss is more fragile than it first seems on its sleek surface. Kyle is constantly wheeling and dealing on his phone, trying to set up a buy that night, too busy to pay attention to his lonesome wife even when she gets dressed up for the dinner she's spent the day cooking and can't interest anyone in eating. Their sulky teen daughter Avery (Liana Liberato) sneaks out to a party they told her she couldn't attend, and so misses the dramatic entrance of Elias (Ben Mendelsohn, so frightening in Animal Kingdom but given less to work with here), his brother Jonah (Cam Gigandet), the brawny Ty (Dash Mihok) and Elias' tweaked-out gal pal Petal (Jordana Spiro).
The not-quite-real-time in which Trespass unfolds is structured like a high states negotiation in which both parties are patently ridiculous. Kyle decides that the intruders, whose own façade of mask-wearing, clock-watching competence crumbles almost immediately, are in all likelihood going to kill him and his wife after they get the money they believe is somewhere in the house and that Kyle insists was spent, since they're not packing anything with which to tie their hostages up. Kyle refuses to open his safe, believing it to be his only bargaining chip, and that's when the volume starts getting turned up on everyone's dialogue, threats are made and Kidman's formal French twist is mussed into something fortuitously reminiscent of a Bardot 'do (such is the magic of the movies). In twists revealed via brief flashbacks, we learn more about how everyone ended up in this drastic situation, a series of secrets, betrayals and obsessions that initially feels like a way to flesh out a limited idea to feature runtime, but then becomes so loopy it's close to trashy fun. The same can be said for Cage's performance, which, while not at the level of his Wicker Man highlight reel, builds into something enjoyably blustery (he asks one of the gunmen if he knows the etymology of the word "diamond") as his suit-and-glasses Kyle tries to prove he's capable of protecting his family against these tattooed toughs, one of whom seems to be awfully familiar with his wife.
Despite its gestures toward relevance -- the Millers live in a swank but only half-finished modern abode Sarah designed herself, and as Kyle explains, "we never owned this house, it owned us" -- Trespass is best received as an almost viable B-movie that just happens to have A-list leads. For all of the turns from which it manages to wring tension, like the possible salvation represented by a call from the Millers' security company, there are two that are laughable, like a character being given away by the beeping of a digital watch, or another flicking through some home movies on a bedroom flat screen. The film is conceptually the story of a yuppie's last stand, his clawing attempts to shield his family from physical threats after he's failed to do so when it comes to monetary ones. But there's not a lot to hold on to with these characters, who are sketched out in broad strokes.
As things fall apart, the bellowing starts and Trespass turns into a repetitive cycle of characters being dragged around at gunpoint and occasionally beaten, it grows numbing and difficult to invest in the fate of anyone on-screen. The best line finds someone snapping at another who's refusing to cooperate to "do it, so we can all die because I don't give a fuck anymore." Unless you too have lost a fortune in the gemstone biz, that's the most relatable thing you'll hear in the film, spoken or yelled.