So this one’s been a long time coming, put off because of the holidays and whatnot. Back in the day, I made a promise. A promise to see every Nic Cage movie opening weekend. Part of that promise includes me getting to make you all suffer by writing about the probably-bad, hopefully-awesome movie that I sat through. You don’t have to promise to read them, though if you do I feel like we’ll make recursive promises that will probably lead to world peace.
Today’s movie sadly didn’t get a theatrical release, at least around here. It showed up in a handful of theaters and instantly disappeared, doomed for the straight-to-video wasteland of Wal-marts everywhere. This is the main reason I’ve been so long in writing about it. I’m sorry, Cage acolytes. I will not fail you when Ghost Rider: Revengeance comes out, I … wait for it … promise.
I originally tried to write a version of this article as I was watching Trespass, kind of a stream-of-consciousness experiment as I cracked wise about the movie as it was playing. Unfortunately, about a third of the way through, it devolved into chaos. An excerpt from the parts that aren’t just me typing “FUCK WHAT IS THIS?” over and over:
They live in a really big house, like big enough that Nic Cage should have a less shitty haircut. He just said to the guy he’s been on the phone with for the last 7 minutes “Are you cartooning me?” like that’s something people say. is teenaged daughter was introduced by her ass descending some stairs. That’s nice and gross, but less gross than Nicole Kidman barely bothering to hide her accent these days. Way to put in the effort. Also who goes around making dinner barefoot in an evening gown? She’s not even noticeably drunk.
Trespass is directed by Joel Batman & Robin Schumacher, and all you need to know about the characters is summed up in the one piece I could salvage from my liveblog of the movie before it turned into some Navidson Record style document of my madness. Nic Cage is a guy who apparently sells stuff? And him and his shitty daughter and wife he seems vaguely repulsed by live in a giant-but-unfinished house that rapidly gets invaded by guys in ski masks who “want your fucking diamonds open the fucking safe we want your diamonds!”
What follows is a half hour in this single giant room of the house like it’s some sort of stage production put on by stupid people trying to recite dialog written by Rain Man. Over and over again the bad guys threaten to shoot if Nic Cage doesn’t open the safe and over and over again Nic Cage shouts that he won’t and he can’t. It’s amazing how long the movie stalls on this single plot point, as the bad guys go out of their way to threaten to shoot in a dozen different ways but never actually shoot anything. I can’t remember the last time home invasion seemed so fundamentally stupid. Maybe Hesher? Which was trying to be stupid, to be clear, which makes it far better than this unintentional implosion.
It’s when they finally get to the heavily implied rape threats against Kidman and their daughter that Cage opens the safe, only to reveal that the safe is empty and he’s been hustling his way into the middle man roles of various big diamond sales in order to keep his family afloat. Because rich people being broke is topical and relatable in the recession, I suppose. At this point, all hell breaks loose, as the bad guys start infighting about what they should do now, as they are also Real People With Problems, the lead guy in for a whole load of money with a local mobster who demanded he do this job to pay him back.
Special mention for awfulness here has to go to Nicole Kidman, who I actually usually like despite many of her career choices. Here she plays a character that seems vaguely unlikable but not in any way that would be defined and interesting. No, she mostly just tries hard to look sexy while in peril, tied up in a black evening dress and barefoot as she cries prettily at all the bad guys manhandling her. It’s a bad role, to be sure, but she doesn’t bring anything at all to it. Thankless jobs like wife-in-peril require an actor to make something from nothing through strong acting, and she spends most of the movie looking like she can’t be bothered. I guess I can’t blame her. Can’t be bothered is about the tone most everyone gives the whole movie.
And by all hell breaking loose, I mean that they spend the next half hour shouting at each other and making more ridiculous threats that never really get followed up on.
I was making tallies at how many times guns are pointed at someone threateningly and then not fired despite nobody doing what they’re told to at gunpoint. I got to 15 before I stopped counting. That’s 15 moments in a movie where someone with a gun to their face refuses to be compelled and GETS AWAY WITH IT. I don’t know who was writing this script, but it was like they had never seen a home invasion movie or even a crime film before and didn’t understand concepts like ‘tension’ and ‘consequence’. You know, complex things that movies don’t need at all.
But let’s talk about Cage, because that’s why we’re here. I wouldn’t call this a Crazy Cage movie, because mostly he plays a man in great distress, but he manages to hedge into Crazy Cage territory through sheer shouting aplomb. He spends most of the movie red in the face and wide-eyed, shouting at the bad guys and then bluffing them with really obvious lies before going right back to shouting. And he does most of this in the accent he had for a third of Bad Lieutenant, the one that sounds like he’s about to swallow his own tongue.
It’s actually kind of great in its own stupid way, as if he knew the kind of movie he was in and was just going to thrash about for 90 minutes instead of worrying about trying to inhabit any sort of role. And towards the end he gets to shoot someone to death with a nail gun. I mean, that kind of counts as cool, right? RIGHT?!
Ha, no, this movie is a shit sandwich. And it has everything to do with the weird, toneless way they go about portraying what is a pretty well-tread sub genre of thriller these days. It’s not gory and it’s not actually rapey (thank god,) so it’s not actively being offensive. And it’s not tense or nuanced, so it’s not actually good. It’s just a thing a bunch of people who usually know better went through the motions in, and that’s the greatest crime of all.