The Trust
"The Trust is whimsical, deliberately uneven and much more interested in character than action, yet it also has moments of searing tension and a couple of blistering action sequences."

Nicolas Cage is one of those actors whose performance very much depends on his director. Give him the Cohen brothers, David Lynch or Werner Herzog and he's magnetic. With Brad Silberling or John Turteltaub, you might as well go and out he kettle on. With that in mind, it's quite something to see him produce his finest (some would say 'first') performance for years for debut director Alex Brewer and sophomore Benjamin Brewer, giving this curious little thriller a class that nobody had a right to expect.

Cage plays Stone, a cynical older cop whose competence at his job doesn't conceal a sense that he feels he has wasted his life and is looking for something more exciting. That something appears unexpectedly: a hidden vault discovered during a drugs bust and, crucially, unknown to any other officer. Stone has no idea what's inside, but given the security and secrecy involved, he knows it has to be something big. So he drags in trusted underling Waters (Elijah Wood) and persuades him to help develop a scheme to rob the place. Both have expertise in this area, gleaned from their police work, but there are a lot of unknowns - not least how far they will go to deal with people who might get in their way.

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Focusing on the relationship between the two men, The Trust is whimsical, deliberately uneven and much more interested in character than action, yet it also has moments of searing tension and a couple of blistering action sequences. Wood clearly relishes being cast against type, hollow-faced and bitter. We first encounter him lying on his back looking bored whilst a beautiful woman bounces around on top of him; despite the money he leaves it's not entirely clear if she's a sex worker, his girlfriend, or just somebody who has taken pity on him. He seems unable to connect emotionally with the world around him, and yet spending time with Stone, who doesn't seem to experience certain emotions at all, he becomes more aware of his humanity - and the precarity of the situation becomes more acute.

Alongside the two men, there's Sky Ferreira as the young woman they find in the flat from which they plan to drill down into the vault. Scared, wide-eyed, generally forbidden to speak, she's easy to feel for, and Waters gradually becomes more nervous as it dawns on him that Stone is unlikely to let her go. Yet the woman's identity is as mysterious as the vault, and the men know nothing about its owners - or when they might appear. Stone, meanwhile, displays his own peculiar kind of innocence (not unlike that which JG Ballard once attributed to Blue Velvet's Frank Booth), and the awful deadpan puns he comes up with in an attempt to bond with the younger man will have viewers rooting for him despite themselves.

The inexperience of the directors shows here in some badly organised sequences where it's hard to tell what's happening, and there are scenes that appear to have been edited together from disparate scraps in an attempt to maintain cohesion - yet, in an odd way, this add to the charm of the piece. Ultimately it's an actors' film and a fine reminder of what Cage is capable of at his best. It is also, despite its ostensibly formulaic plot, a film of such distinctive personality that it will be difficult to forget.

Reviewed on: 16 Jul 2016
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An older cop persuades a younger colleague to join him in breaking into a mysterious vault.

Director: Alex Brewer, Benjamin Brewer

Writer: Benjamin Brewer, Adam Hirsch

Starring: Nicolas Cage, Elijah Wood, Sky Ferreira, Eric Heister, Alexandria Lee

Year: 2016

Runtime: 92 minutes

Country: US


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