The notion that great actors can elevate weak material is severely put to the test in Trespass, sadly not a remake or even a reissue of Walter Hill’s excellent rapper-studded 1992 neo-noir. Four acclaimed actors, two of them Oscar winners, swell the ranks of Joel Schumacher’s muddled home invasion thriller, all of them acting their hearts out for a screenplay that deserves direct-to-video-grade talent.
Nicolas Cage, whose financial woes have driven him to take every script that hits his mailbox, plays a diamond broker who overworks himself in order to maintain his family’s moneyed lifestyle. His workaholicism has taken its toll on wife Nicole Kidman, whose presence in such dreck is a monstrously depressing reminder that no one sees movies starring Nicole Kidman, not even the good ones. Their McMansion is broken into by a bevy of thieves led by Ben Mendelsohn, whose performance as an off-kilter psycho in Animal Kingdom should have netted him a better agent. Meanwhile, no one saw David Schwimmer’s online stalker drama Trust, which is why its well-received star Liana Liberato appears as the teenage daughter who has, conveniently, sneaked out for a party.
Trespass is not an actor’s showcase, although these four try anyway. Although near-comatose, thanks to beatings and gunshots, Cage sporadically allows himself to spring into nutty action, letting loose nervous chuckles and the over-the-top ranting for which some of us still occasionally admire him. Opposite him, Kidman delusionally operates as though the material were competent, or that her character had a coherent throughline. Yet, she delivers the same kind of alert, nuanced performance she did in Margot at the Wedding and Rabbit Hole.
Kidman’s weirdly strong work, rather than distract one from the inanity around her, only makes the disparity between material and execution that much more chasmic. This is one of those movies that relies solely on endless twists, that ritualistically changes character’s personalities at the drop of a hat, that features our heroes escaping then nonsensically getting caught no less than four different times, and that includes dissolve-heavy flashbacks that aesthetically resemble the videos at karaoke joints. In other words, it’s just another Joel Schumacher product.
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