'The Trust': Film Review

Courtesy of SXSW
Brothers' feature debut is a stylish, conflicted heist pic.
5/13/2016

Elijah Wood and Nicolas Cage are police evidence handlers who get a little too interested in the illicit goods around them.

Two losers pursue a mysterious jackpot in The Trust, Alex and Benjamin Brewer's tale of cops gone wrong. Music video vets making their feature debut, the brothers provide a stylish setting for Elijah Wood and Nic Cage to play to their strengths in a heist flick whose slight offness is surely intended. A month of pre-theatrical VOD play for a film with this cast sends the wrong signals, suggesting it will be as clunky as some of the low-budget straight- or straightish-to-vid programmers each man has made. Though not completely satisfying, this genre pic is stronger than that, and with more aggressive marketing could have hoped for a better theatrical run than it is likely to get.

Wood and Cage are Waters and Stone, Las Vegas cops who work with crime-scene evidence and confiscated goods. Neither gets much respect; in a surprising but welcome bit part as Stone's father, Jerry Lewis makes it clear he doesn't even view his son as a real lawman. But Stone takes himself plenty seriously, and transforms into a man of action when he notices something no other officer does — the astounding amount of cash a "nobody" drug dealer recently put up as bail to avoid jail time. After trailing the felon on their own time, the two cops learn of a secret vault hidden in the back of a dilapidated bodega. They decide to break in and take whatever contraband is inside for themselves.

The script, penned by Benjamin Brewer and Adam Hirsch, requires us to suspend our doubts that these ordinary fellas can acquire high-level safecracking skills in short order, and tosses in a puzzling step or two to bog things down. But the procedural aspect overall is enjoyable, as the men set up an overnight construction zone in an apartment directly above the vault and deal with the sketchy residents who surprise them there. Though far from a Rififi-grade nailbiter, it builds to an involving moment of truth.

What happens then is a surprise that's not as twistily compelling as it seems to think it is, but isn't such a letdown as to spoil the picture. Throughout, connoisseurs of Cage's career should appreciate a performance that rides the edge of his crazy tendencies: the actor breaks into singsong line delivery here, laughs abruptly at his own joke there, brings chuckle-worthy conviction to a line like "This is a very interesting ashtray." But he stops short of letting his quirks drown out the world around him, as they sometimes have in the past, making The Trust noteworthy as a Cage vehicle more than anything else.

 

Production company: Hassell-Free

Distributors: Saban Films, Lionsgate, DirecTV

Cast: Nicolas Cage, Elijah Wood, Sky Ferreira, Jerry Lewis

Directors: Alex Brewer, Benjamin Brewer

Screenwriters: Benjamin Brewer, Adam Hirsch

Producers: Brad Schlei, Mike Nilon, Braxton Pope, Molly Hassell

Executive producers: John Jencks, Henry Winterstern, Arianne Fraser, Delphine Perrier, Jeff Rice, Lee Broda, Jason Miller, Charles Auty, Megan Forde, Simon Williams, Ted Cawrey, William V. Bromiley, Ness Saban, Julie Kroll

Director of photography: Sean Porter

Production designer: Scott Kuzio

Costume designer: Mona May

Editor: Lauren Connelly

Composer: Reza Safinia

Casting director: J.C. Cantu

 

91 minutes

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