I admit to being a Nicolas Cage fan. In fact, I try to see every movie he makes no matter how insipid the plot or blatant a sell-out it may be, in part it is because I believe that Nic Cage can actually act well given the right circumstances, but beyond that it is like an inside joke kind of thing, just…with myself. While it may be hard for film-goers to get excited about another film in a long history of Las Vegas based heist stories, or Vegas-based any-kind-of-film starring Nic Cage, THE TRUST is a good surprise. Again and again filmmakers are drawn the the most spiritually void place on earth filled with flash, flesh and every sad sack story known to man. Vegas can be fascinating especially Vegas off the strip. I marvel at the people who actually live there, like, All. The. Time. Yet intellectually I know, as we all do, that those who serve to keep the fantasy and bling alive are not magically teleported there from an alternate universe. While I assume that every person who works in Vegas has stories to tell it is probably the cops who top the list.
THE TRUST is a simple story on paper: two Las Vegas policemen with questionable ethics, Stone (Nicolas Cage) and Waters (Elijah Wood) happen upon a huge vault in a nondescript mundane location which they suspect is filled with something, or things, phenomenally valuable. Stone and Waters are not fancy homicide detectives, or even beat cops, they work in evidence management which is about as un-sexy as police work gets. They get to sport the shirts but no glory comes their way and they know it. They hold no illusions or hubris about what they do, they’re underpaid, invisible and fed up. If you’re stuck on the idea of a film starring Nic Cage and Elijah Wood, a seemingly discordant pair, I don’t blame you. In practice however the they work beautifully together. Cage is at his best when being the every-guy who is a hair’s breath away from psychotic killer, and when teamed with Wood as his stoner friend who wants more but can’t summon the energy, it all works. The two actors have great comedic timing and chemistry and create some very funny scenes.
The film is directed by brothers Alex and Benjamin Brewer. The latter Brewer has a few credits to his name, he also co-wrote the script with Adam Hersch, but they seem to have appeared out of nowhere to make an admirable, quirky, and highly enjoyable film. The story moves along at a good clip and holds some plot surprises. While it is funny I wouldn’t label it a comedy per se. Its humor stems from its binary stars’ skilled delivery and because Cage is just…funny. No one can spontaneously explode quite the way he can and the film achieves a delicate balance between farce and grit which is part of what makes it unpredictable. The directors avoided the trap of trying to cover every plot element known to film-hood (romance, redemption, an illegitimate child somewhere) and kept the focus tight. The film also looks great thanks to cinematographer Sean Porter (GREEN ROOM) who reflects the neon forest of Vegas as a backdrop for its regular folk citizens.
THE TRUST has more producers than residents of Hollywood. OK, I exaggerate, but its impressive list of 25 producer credits gives the idea that this film was a labor of love for the Brewer brothers. They took a gamble and it paid off, in part because of their luck with casting, but we all know stars alone do not make for a good film. The screenplay is realistic and while its conclusion may throw you, it helps ground the film and leaves certain things open to our own conclusions. And yes, Jerry Lewis is in the film and yes, he is alive. In addition to some really good laughs and action, here’s a great takeaway from the film: One thing we can feel certain about is that the evidence warehouse of the LVPD has got to be the most interesting place in Vegas…(3 / 5)
Director: Alex Brewer and Benjamin Brewer
Cast: Nicolas Cage, Elijah Wood, Sky Ferreira, Jerry Lewis
Running Time: 92 minutes
THE TRUST Movie Review