Trespass (2011) / Thriller-Drama

MPAA rated R for violence, pervasive language, and some brief drug use
Running time: 91 min.

Cast: Nicolas Cage, Nicole Kidman, Ben Mendelsohn, Liana Liberato, Cam Gigandet, Dash Mihok, Jordana Spiro
Director: Joel Schumacher
Screenplay: Carl Gajdusek
Review published October 27, 2011

trespass 2011 joel schumacherA throwback to the domestic thrillers of the late 1980s and early 1990s, though classic Hollywood films like The Desperate Hours did it first, Trespass is a home invasion film that banks on big name stars and takes relatively safe choices in an effort to stay classier than others have done in the more torture-laden terror films in recent years.  Joel Schumacher (The Number 23, Phone Booth), now in his early 70s, takes the main chair, directing two popular (though waning) stars he has worked with before, trying valiantly to generate suspense, but manages to only go through predictable and not very interesting motions in the process.

Nicolas Cage (Season of the Witch, Kick-Ass) stars as slick father and husband Kyle Miller, a successful diamond dealer who spends so much time providing for his family he can no longer find as much appeal at being a family man -- the next sale is all he can think about.  Sarah (Kidman, Nine) is his successful architect spouse, who tries to rekindle the romance in their flaccid relationship, seemingly to no avail.  The only real interaction between the two these days is in trying to keep their hot-to-trot teenage daughter, Avery (Liberato, Trust), from getting out of the house and going to wild parties, though the threats do little to dissuade her, as she rebelliously sneaks out. 

The isolated couple are visited by some armed thieves disguised as cops who are hell-bent on getting the diamond man to cough up his goods, his cash or both.  Miller refuses, utilizing his skills as a wheeler and dealer to try to gain the upper hand.  Soon, the test of wills begins between the dysfunctional bad guys and the dysfunctional family as to which party can keep their trust issues from crumbling their resolve to stay together.

The thespians are alright, though the increasingly giggle-worthy Cage continues to labor mightily in playing a normal guy, too often relying on needing to appear either manic or sullen depending on what the scene may call for.  THose looking for Cage to secure another over-the-top performance to snicker over should not that he doesn't quite come off as unhinged as he has in his recent endeavors.  His pairing with the sultry Kidman is a semi-disaster, never once evoking the feeling that these two could have ever had a real thing going, and neither seem to feel at home in being either paternal or maternal in a convincing way.

The script by Karl Gajdusek ('Dead Like Me') would have felt antiquated 15 years ago, and in 2011,this B-movie premise feels like something that could only make it to a theatrical release for fans of the stars and no one else.  There are some twists thrown in, including the history Sarah may have with one of the home invaders, but nothing truly substantive comes of it other than some manufactured drama between the brothers in charge of the crime.  The hollow story lacks depth, and Schumacher isn't able to effectively capitalize on the themes of how an obsessive, consummate salesman could be so consumed by the thrill of the sale that he would jeopardize everything in a play to keep what's his.  Like the stylized home of the Millers, this film feels remote, cold, and unfinished.  Panic Room did similar but better.

 Qwipster's rating:

©2011 Vince Leo