director Joel Schumacher
“And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against us” – Matthew 6:12
We can probably forgive Joel Schumacher, Nicolas Cage, Nicole Kidman and co. for this Trespass. It’s bad but only on the down slope from mediocre. It’s not an embarrassment. For Schumacher, that would be Batman & Robin (1997). For Cage, it would be any number of movies that he’s made in the last 10-15 years. For Kidman, …her marriage to Tom Cruise?
The plot of Trespass is sort of like someone who saw Michael Haneke’s deconstrcted thriller Funny Games (1997) (or its American re-make of 2008) and thought, “Wow, if it wasn’t deconstructed, this would make a great thriller! We just need to Hollywood it up a bit more! Or maybe a lot!”
Rich family in an isolated mansion get held prisoner, not by two young prep school thugs, but by a group of thieves. Supposedly, Cage’s character, the family patriarch, has been squirreling away money while their financial world is falling around them, unbeknownst to the family, but the kidnappers have been eyeing him and know he’s got diamonds and money. With guns to their heads, Cage still won’t let the villains have the combination to the safe. He tries to make a deal. And then there is the subplot of the younger brother of the gang who scoped the house and has the hots for Kidman (and did he or didn’t he have an affair with her at the same time?) And the crack-smoking girlfriend. And the thug from the mob. And of course, people are going to die.
The thing is that it never really makes sense what Cage’s motivation is. By the end, it really doesn’t seem to make exact sense. But it’s not really worth quibbling about.
The film isn’t successful at capturing potential zeitgeist either. Theoretically, this family, while not necessarily “part of the 1%” that the Occupy movement has defined, is certainly richer than the average upper middle class family. They are the haves. Or are they just living on the razor’s edge as well, is their life a facade? There is class implied that the criminals are certainly not of that same ilk, but rather want what the rich guys have. And at the end, when it all goes up in flames, and the family unit, tested and tried, hangs together in the face of crime and torture, what exactly is the message?
Well, the only reason I watched this is because of my Nicolas Cage thing. It’s not as campy as his more entertaining bad movies. It’s a shabby attempt at a more mainstream, adult thriller. But it is a shabby attempt.