Trespass: Toronto Film Review

Familiar scenario is sticky with adrenaline and testosterone in Joel Schumacher's hostage drama.

Nicolas Cage and Nicole Kidman star in Joel Schumacher's hostage drama.

A home-invasion flick that grabs viewers by the throat and only stops squeezing long enough to wipe sweat from its palms, Trespass can't be accused of finesse or novelty -- or of being as big as the names on the marquee -- but there's little reason to think it won't sell a lot of popcorn for a weekend or two.

In an echo of the lunatic performances at which he once excelled, Nicolas Cage plays Kyle, a wheeling-dealing diamond broker struggling to pay for his family's exorbitant lifestyle. So preoccupied he barely notices pleas for intimacy from wife Sarah (Nicole Kidman), he's seconds away from hearing a portentous "we need to talk" when thieves con their way into his home.

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Displaying an unsettling familiarity with his domestic details and a fondness for nasty, shouted threats of violence, the intruders nearly come unglued when Kyle refuses to comply with some of their demands. As he works frantically to negotiate, having decided these twitchy thugs intend to leave no witnesses alive, the dynamics grow more complicated: Though she doesn't admit it for a while, Sarah appears to have a history with one of the masked men; meanwhile, daughter Avery stumbles back from a party just in time to join a round-robin in which each family member hears a version of the ultimatum, "do X or I'll kill Y."

Nathan Amondson's production design is lurid with conspicuous consumption, so garish it seems to raise the temperature in the rooms where weapons are brandished and wall-safe combinations demanded. Cage's performance is feverish and thrillingly brazen, but he's nearly matched by Ben Mendelsohn, who as the ringleader is less purely evil than he was in Animal Kingdom but more overt in his intensity.

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The slowly revealed backstory between Kidman and the burglar she knows (Cam Gigandet) gives the story an air of buried scandals and creates the opportunity for mutiny among the kidnappers; what we learn adds melodramatic pathos to the couple's already sufficiently tense predicament, but it turns out Kyle can trump any revelation thrown his way.

If most of the film's torments and turnarounds are factory-issue, there's enough guilty pleasure here to hold the attention of most viewers for whom Trespasssounds like fun, and a couple of quirky surprises delivered by Cage. After all, how often do you hear a guy with a gun to his head ask "Do you know anything about the etymology of the word 'diamond'?"

Venue: Toronto International Film Festival (Millennium Entertainment)
Production Companies: Millennium Films, Nu Image Films, Winkler Films
Cast: Nicolas Cage, Cam Gigandet, Nicole Kidman, Liana Liberato, Ben Mendelsohn
Director: Joel Schumacher
Screenwriter: Karl Gajdusek
Producers: Rene Besson, David Winkler, Irwin Winkler
Executive producers: Avi Lerner, Danny Dimbort, Trevor Short, Boaz Davidson, John Thompson
Director of photography: Andrzej Bartkowiak
Production designer: Nathan Amondson
Music: David Buckley
Costume designer: Judianna Makovsky
Editor: Bill Pankow
Rated R, 90 minutes