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Unfocused script and poor performances by Cage, Kidman plague ‘Trespass’

Movie Review | 1 out of 5 stars

Published: Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Updated: Wednesday, October 19, 2011 02:10


Alan Markfield / Millennium Entertainment

Nicholas Cage and Nicole Kidman star in the latest unoriginal heist film, ‘Trespass.’


Alan Markfield / Millennium Entertainment

Nicholas Cage offers a disappointing performance in new heist thriller ‘Trespass.’

From director Joel Schumacher, the latest heist thriller, "Trespass," chronicles the not−so−tragic downfall of the Miller family as both they and the audience are forced to endure the longest, most exhausting and least entertaining home invasion to ever hit the big screen.

The film opens on a beautiful, sun−soaked afternoon as Kyle (Nicolas Cage) speeds down a country road in a silver Porsche, mumbling in a semi−patrician accent strangely reminiscent of Frank Langella's.

In case this introduction doesn't make the point clear enough, here's how you know the Miller family is rich: They have a white house. Every item inside said white house is white. They have a private lake, a private swimming pool and — perhaps even more telling — marital neglect, a rebellious teenage daughter and shameful indiscretions.

The Miller family's seemingly perfect upper−crust existence is thrown off the rails as they enter a game of cat−and−mouse with four deranged thieves. Kyle, his beautiful wife Sarah (Nicole Kidman) and their angsty teenage daughter Avery (Liana Liberato) are far from innocent victims as they slowly — very slowly — unravel the motives behind their captors' violent pursuit of money and revenge.

We've all seen this story before: A poor little rich family is taken for all its worth by a gaggle of unwashed thugs. The family gets tied up, beaten up, chased, blah blah, et cetera. This plot has been recycled countless times in the likes of David Fincher's "Panic Room" (2008) and Sam Peckinpah's "Straw Dogs" (1971).

What stops "Trespass" from cashing in on this generally gripping story line is its execution: Somehow, each element of the film is almost impressively unconvincing and inauthentic.

The Miller family, undoubtedly the protagonists of the film, could not be further from sympathetic. Cage plays an emotionally detached and mildly corrupt businessman, while Kidman and Liberato portray hollow versions of the poor, female collateral damage Cage leaves at home. The actors take their cues from an unoriginal script that depicts them as cliched versions of themselves.

For example, the Miller marriage is in shambles. This is not made clear by any display of meaningful emotional frustration between Kyle and Sarah, but instead by the fact that Sarah waits impatiently in a kitchen in a sexy black dress that Kyle ignores.

The group of villains, led by Ben Mendelsohn and Cam Gigandet, act the way villains are supposed to act. They curse loudly and often; when the Millers are unwilling to show them the money, Mendelsohn and Gigandet portray vexation by speaking in too−close proximity to the family members' faces and spitting wildly in exasperation.

Because these characters are so hackneyed, they leave the audience pretty much apathetic to the plight of both the cats and the mice in this disturbed little game.

Without interested viewers, the bizarre and relentless twists and turns of Karl Gajdusek's original screenplay become both distracting and meaningless. Perhaps the flashbacks and zig−zagging storyline are attempts to bring elements of psychological drama to the film, but the techniques come off as frustratingly unfocused. Though unoriginal in concept and execution, "Trespass" certainly would have fared better without the unnecessary plot surprises.

Unfortunately, the acting did not do much to save this flop. Cage plays Kyle's yuppie persona with little believability. Perhaps the strangest aspect of Cage's performance is his aforementioned inexplicable accent that is representative of neither his upper−crust breeding nor any possible foreign nationality.

The combination of Gajdusek's weak script and Cage's unusual delivery trivializes serious moments by eliciting the audience's laughter. Even Kidman, who seldom disappoints, is given very little to actually do besides act frightened and dress scantily.

While the movie's unintentional comedic moments provide fleeting entertainment, "Trespass" spends most of its 91−minute run making both the Miller family and everyone in the theater beg for the heist to just end already.

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