Genre: Crime, Thriller
Directed by: Alex Brewer, Benjamin Brewer
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Elijah Wood, Sky Ferreira
To see Nicolas Cage and Elijah Wood attached to a project is not to guarantee quality. Wood’s days of Middle Earth mega-stardom have retreated, leaving a respectable living in films good and bad, but usually lower key. Cage on the other hand will happily sell his phenomenal talents to any old tat, turning in highly entertaining performances in all manner of rubbish. Despite a few rushed plot developments, quirky heist thriller The Trust overcomes these misgivings, emerging as a pleasantly enjoyable surprise.
This is mostly because of Cage and Wood, cast as Las Vegas police officers stuck in the evidence room. Jim (Cage), a dull and fastidious non-entity, comes up with endless lists of instructions for the collection of evidence that his colleagues don’t even pretend to follow. David (Wood) barely cares at all. He spends his free time paying for prostitutes and smoking weed, making it abundantly clear he hates his job.
Somehow this unlikely duo stumbles across a trail leading from a bailed drug dealer all the way to a giant safe. They have no idea what’s in it, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t willing to launch into an elaborate plan, one almost certain to go wrong, in the hope of striking it big. That they happen to be paid to enforce the law instead of breaking it is little impediment to the conscience of either man. Both turn crooked as easily as if they were ordering a morning coffee.That’s the big problem with The Trust, from Alex and Benjamin Brewer. Previously known for their music video work, they bring the big personalities and panache of the MTV world without marrying it to a fully fleshed out narrative. After a brief spell setting up the characters, Jim and David go dirty in a flash. Later on, things start to unravel far too quickly. Jim is a particularly troublesome character, going from the kind of guy mocked by his own father to an out and out lunatic in no time.
Luckily, Cage and Wood are on hand to smooth out the process and ensure everyone has a lot of fun. Jim starts uptight and David chilled, before they switch roles completely once the heist commences. Soon David is a sweating, gibbering wreck, with Jim loving every minute. It’s another chance for Cage to let rip with one of his trademark twitchy, terrifying, hilarious and most of all weird performances. He catalogues crime scenes with the best of them, shows no problem shooting a man in the head, takes umbrage at a little bit of spit, and comes with highly advanced improvisational explosives skills. He’s really at his best indulging in oddball behaviour though. This is a man who takes a lemon slice from David’s drink, covers it in tabasco, and eats it whole. David, after much encouragement, does the same, only to spit it out in disgust. Jim casually agrees it tastes awful and leaves. Later on he’s busy daubing his nose with sunscreen for no apparent reason while David walks him through their plans.While Cage is off stealing pretty much every second he spends on screen, whether that’s goofing around with hotel employees or waving a sledgehammer with a little too much abandon, Wood proves an able foil. His descent into a bag of nerves happens quickly, but it’s just about believable in the accelerated nightmare he’s stumbled into. He’s a man very much in over his head, and fully aware of that fact.
The Trust is ultimately in over its head as well. There’s simply not enough plot, forcing quick and hard to believe changes in Jim and David. The film only gets away with it because Cage and Wood pull out all the stops. They’re asked to cover a multitude of sins, and more often than not they do just that.