Reviews


Film Review: Trespass

Generic but effective home-invasion thriller.

-By Maitland McDonagh


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1282538-Trespass_Md.jpg

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As high-end diamond dealer Kyle Miller (Nicolas Cage) tries to close a deal while speeding home in his Porsche, the high-strung, insecure Sarah (Nicole Kidman) is simultaneously fixing dinner and losing one more battle in the ongoing war of wills with their rebellious daughter Avery (Liana Liberato), who'd rather go to a party with slutty pal Kendra (Emily Meade) than suffer through a stultifying meal with the ’rents.

As Avery slips out of her room and Kyle announces that he has to head right back out for a meet with his buyer, the security phone rings: The police are doing house-to-house interviews in connection with a recent rash of burglaries in the Millers' gated and heavily fortified community and do they have a minute? But it's not the police who force their way past Kyle at the front door: It's a quartet of quietly desperate thugs who order him to disarm the security system and open the heavy-duty safe they know is concealed behind a wall panel in his home office.

Kyle resists, Sarah cowers, Avery picks the worst possible moment to sneak back in and the high-stakes cat-and-mouse game is on, pitting a sweaty, soft-bellied businessman, his brittle wife and the mouthy teen who's suddenly regressed to a whimpering little girl against four heavily armed criminals: the ruthless but not entirely unreasonable Elias ( Animal Kingdom's Ben Mendelsohn), who appears to be in charge; his handsome younger brother, Jonah (Cam Gigandet); Elias' twitchy tweaker girlfriend (Jordana Spiro, star of TV's “My Boys”), and the ominously quiet Ty (Dash Mihok), who don't intend to leave until they get what they want.

Anyone who's seen either version of Straw Dogs or Funny Games, The Strangers, Hostage, Fear, the underrated Vicious (co-scripted by P.J. Hogan in anti-Muriel's Wedding mode), last year's Spanish-language Secuestrados (to which Trespass bears an uncanny resemblance) or any number of other home-invasion pictures knows exactly what to expect from this sleek thriller. Secrets and lies will come to light and drive wedges into the relationships between family members and their captors alike. Desperate alliances will be made and broken and the authorities will arrive only when the flames—literal and metaphorical—have resolved themselves into smoldering ashes and there's nothing left to do except clean up the mess.

That said, Trespass is efficiently scripted, well-acted and briskly paced; and while, yes, foolish things are done, who can honestly say he or she has never opened a door to an unfamiliar delivery person, maintenance worker, Con Ed man or security guard because really, what are the odds that they're not exactly who and/or what they say? Neither a game-changer nor an ambitious misfire, Trespass is genre filmmaking at its most generic, the kind of movie that will almost certainly find its audience on VOD, where it becomes available two weeks after its theatrical release.


Film Review: Trespass

Generic but effective home-invasion thriller.

Oct 12, 2011

-By Maitland McDonagh


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1282538-Trespass_Md.jpg

As high-end diamond dealer Kyle Miller (Nicolas Cage) tries to close a deal while speeding home in his Porsche, the high-strung, insecure Sarah (Nicole Kidman) is simultaneously fixing dinner and losing one more battle in the ongoing war of wills with their rebellious daughter Avery (Liana Liberato), who'd rather go to a party with slutty pal Kendra (Emily Meade) than suffer through a stultifying meal with the ’rents.

As Avery slips out of her room and Kyle announces that he has to head right back out for a meet with his buyer, the security phone rings: The police are doing house-to-house interviews in connection with a recent rash of burglaries in the Millers' gated and heavily fortified community and do they have a minute? But it's not the police who force their way past Kyle at the front door: It's a quartet of quietly desperate thugs who order him to disarm the security system and open the heavy-duty safe they know is concealed behind a wall panel in his home office.

Kyle resists, Sarah cowers, Avery picks the worst possible moment to sneak back in and the high-stakes cat-and-mouse game is on, pitting a sweaty, soft-bellied businessman, his brittle wife and the mouthy teen who's suddenly regressed to a whimpering little girl against four heavily armed criminals: the ruthless but not entirely unreasonable Elias (Animal Kingdom's Ben Mendelsohn), who appears to be in charge; his handsome younger brother, Jonah (Cam Gigandet); Elias' twitchy tweaker girlfriend (Jordana Spiro, star of TV's “My Boys”), and the ominously quiet Ty (Dash Mihok), who don't intend to leave until they get what they want.

Anyone who's seen either version of Straw Dogs or Funny Games, The Strangers, Hostage, Fear, the underrated Vicious (co-scripted by P.J. Hogan in anti-Muriel's Wedding mode), last year's Spanish-language Secuestrados (to which Trespass bears an uncanny resemblance) or any number of other home-invasion pictures knows exactly what to expect from this sleek thriller. Secrets and lies will come to light and drive wedges into the relationships between family members and their captors alike. Desperate alliances will be made and broken and the authorities will arrive only when the flames—literal and metaphorical—have resolved themselves into smoldering ashes and there's nothing left to do except clean up the mess.

That said, Trespass is efficiently scripted, well-acted and briskly paced; and while, yes, foolish things are done, who can honestly say he or she has never opened a door to an unfamiliar delivery person, maintenance worker, Con Ed man or security guard because really, what are the odds that they're not exactly who and/or what they say? Neither a game-changer nor an ambitious misfire, Trespass is genre filmmaking at its most generic, the kind of movie that will almost certainly find its audience on VOD, where it becomes available two weeks after its theatrical release.

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