Friday, October 14, 2011

Ben Mendelsohn’s Trespass

Witness the next logical step of Occupy Wall Street’s escalating class warfare: violent home invasions. Diamond dealer Kyle Miller ought to “have” plenty. A desperate drug dealer deeply in debt to the mob “has not.” The fact that Miller was wiped out by the recent crash is an unfortunate complicating factor in Trespass (trailer here), Joel Schumacher’s latest bit of hyperventilating silliness, which opens today in New York.

Miller is married to Sarah, a beautiful architect who designed the tony new home they have not yet paid for. They have a rebellious teen-aged daughter, Avery, who looks like a porn-star. Trying to hustle freelance commissions, Miller has not told his wife and daughter he was let go by his firm. Ironically, his attempts to keep up appearances have enticed a gang of thugs with connections to his security company. Ostensibly led by Elias, the home invaders want inside his conspicuous wall safe. A highly motivated man, if Elias cannot pay off his debts with this score, he and his junkie girlfriend Petal are in a world of hurt. Thus begins the battle of wits, such as it might be.

To be fair, Miller’s attempts to negotiate with Elias are written relatively sharply. In contrast, the subplot involving Elias’s brother and his delusional attraction to Sarah Miller is just mind-numbingly dumb. Likewise, all the teasing near-escapes and aborted mayday calls quickly become tiresome. Still, production designer Nathan Amondson’s team created a cool looking, ultra-sleek architectural set that might be the second most interesting character in the film.

At least Australian actor Ben Mendelsohn understands what makes a great villain. He gives a ferocious performance as Elias, projecting savage cunning and major screen presence, even when concealed by his mask. It is pretty telling when the new Joel Schumacher movie starring Nicholas Cage and Nicole Kidman is best pitched as the latest Ben Mendelsohn film, but that seems to be about the size of things. He almost single-handedly earns the film an extra star and a half it does not deserve.

With his constant nostril flaring and ludicrous mangling of Air Force One style catch-phrases (“Get out of my house!”), the strung-out looking Cage is absolutely laughable as Miller, in the worst way possible. Still, he is trying his hardest throughout. Though she periodically tries to knuckle down and power out some kind of characterization, Kidman mostly just mails it in as Sarah Miller (and who can blame her?).

True, Trespass provides scads of unintentional comedy. That is all very fine for Saturday morning hangover viewing, but it is nowhere near sufficient to justify a suburban senior matinee ticket price, let alone the full fare in Midtown Manhattan. Basically just a big clumsy mess, Trespass opens today (10/14) in New York at the AMC Village 7.