Happens in every Nicolas Cage movie: Five minutes in and our troubled hero is sweating like he's in a sauna.
Cage's character, Kyle Miller, has business problems. He's a diamond dealer and a big deal has evidently gone south. Something is also wrong with his family. Wife Sarah (Nicole Kidman) is lost in unhappy thoughts while daughter Avery bellyaches about some party she can't attend. Finally the teenager runs away, hopping the fence out of Fort Misery.
And then, Trespass being a Nicolas Cage movie, things start to go really bad: Robbers pretending to be cops barge into their secluded mansion and slap the Millers around. Kyle has a big fancy wall safe, weighs as much as an American car. Inside, presumably, there is a slush pile of diamonds, maybe a couple stacks of thousands in case someone orders out for pizza.
One robber grabs Kyle then pulls out a hunting knife and gestures to the steel fortress's green "Open" button. "You know you're going to put your thumb on that thing sooner or later," he intones. "Only question is: Will it still be attached to your body?"
More questions: What happens when Hurricane Avery gets home? And what's up with Kyle's wife? We see Sarah exchange searching glances with the most sensitive of the home invaders.
Maybe diamonds aren't really a girl's best friend.
Though hardly indispensable, Trespass is an agreeable time-waster distinguished by one good performance and enough clever twists to keep you, if not on the edge of your seat, at least happily alert, guessing along with the plot.
The performance to savour is from Australian Ben Mendelsohn ( Animal Kingdom) as the film's purring villain. Elias is the robber ringleader. More important, he's the audience's surrogate. Hey, if half the fun in a Nic Cage movie is watching the shameless hambone suffer, the torturer should look like he's having a good time.
For sure, Mendelsohn's cruel cat looks like he's enjoying tearing at his trapped, disoriented mouse.
"What do you want from us?" Kyle shouts early on.
"Oh, I don't know – why don't you start with everything you got," Elias counters.
Adding to our enjoyment is screenwriter Karl Gajdusek's tricky, hop-scotching story, which, every few scenes or so, takes us a little deeper into buried scandals involving both the robbers and robbed.
The writer also takes delight in feeding the film's star with howlers that will be appreciated by connoisseurs of overripe melodrama. Like for instance, Kyle, raining sweat, complaining about his wife: "Your filthy lust invited them in."
Elsewhere, Caged Nic hisses at a killer with a gun to his head, "Do you know anything about the etymology of the word 'diamond?' "
As always, Cage tears into his role without restraint. He's well past the offbeat playfulness that made Leaving Las Vegas and Wild at Heart such disturbing pleasures. Committed to misery, he turns every performance into the Stations of the Cross, bleeding and wailing away.
Trespass is at least a suitable rest stop for his anguish. An unapologetic B-movie that comes with lots of flashbacks, gunplay and shouting, it can easily be savoured and forgotten inside 90 minutes.
Special to The Globe and Mail
- Directed by Joel Schumacher
- Written by Karl Gajdusek
- Starring Nicolas Cage, Nicole Kidman, Cam Gigandet, Liano Liberato and Ben Mendelsohn
- Classification: 14A