Saturday, January 14, 2012


Trespass (Joel Schumacher, 2011) Two A-listers in this thing and it goes straight to video?  A casual viewing can see why.  It's a dimly written variation on the typical home-invasion story (The Desperate Hourseither version, Panic Room, Firewall), with more than a smattering of Michael Haneke's cruel Funny Games (also either version) directed by that "master" of subtlety, Joel Schumacher. 

Kyle Miller (Nicolas Cage) is a diamond broker with a security fortress for a house, a tense marriage with his wife, Sarah (Nicole Kidman) and a teenager (Liana Liberato) who's a shade on the rebellious side.  While the kid is off sulking in her room (actually, she runs off with a friend to a party—fine security system that house has), the home is invaded by a gang of three guys and a girl, who threaten the Millers and want the diamonds that Kyle has squirrelled away in an elaborate safeKyle won't do it, even at the threat of a pistol aimed at his temple or his wife'sKyle is arrogant enough that he starts to negotiate with the burglars over what they want and what an alternative take-away might be.  Cash?  Sarah's jewels?  Insurance money?  And the thieves are the type that hesitate at every negotiating point.  Pretty soon, it turns into a competitive play-off of who's the greediest and the slimiest, the crooks or the capitalists?  It would be entertaining if there was anybody worth rooting for.

Fact is, the burglars are stupid.  Most criminals are, but these guys aren't even competent to take the cake.  They're the three "D's"—dumb, dysfunctional and (a)ddicted, and pretty soon, everybody is squabbling, the burglars with the Millers, the burglars amongst themselves, and the Millers against each other (Thanks, if I wanted to watch something like this, I'd watch the Republican primaries coverage).  It's one of those movies where you sit, staring at the screen (when you're eyes aren't rolling back in their sockets) and you think "why doesn't everybody just get a good night's sleep" (and, in fact, Miller even suggests that at one point).

The only engaging question about the whole enterprise is why would Cage and Kidman appear in such a poorly executed "bottle" movie, in the first place.  After all, there is no brilliance in Karl Gajdusek's script, not even something juicy for the two thesps to sink their acting chops into.  The only reason must be is that they owed director Schumacher a favor: Cage for appearing in Schumacher's earlier 8MM, and Kidman for having her career emerge from Tom Cruise's shadow due to Batman Forever.  Loyalty is fine and all, but if they'd moved on to other projects and let this one rest in the dumper, the rewards would have been far greater—they'd have done the rest of us a favor.

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