Directors: Alex Brewer, Ben Brewer
Cast: Nicolas Cage, Elijah Wood, Sky Ferreira, Jerry Lewis, Ethan Suplee
Watch The Trust online in the UK: We Are Colony / iTunes / Prime Video (Buy/Rent) / Virgin Movies / TalKTalk Player / eir Vision Movies / TalkTalk TV / Rakuten TV / Sky Store / Google Play
Nicolas Cage’s much-publicised financial woes have lead to the actor churning out movies of questionable quality in the last few years, most of which barely scrape theatrical releases (think Dying of the Light, The Runner, Pay the Ghost). Most of the time, he puts in the bare minimum of effort and you can practically see him waiting to cash the cheque, so it’s a delight to find him in full-on bonkers form once again in this stylish heist thriller.
Cage (sporting a thick moustache and relatively normal hair) plays Jim Stone, a terminally bored Las Vegas cop, who works in the evidence room. (Hopes for his performance are raised early on by his delivery of the line “This is a very interesting ashtray”.) When he stumbles onto what he thinks is a secret drug-money-controlled bank vault hidden under an apartment building, he recruits his easily-led younger colleague, David Waters (Wood), to help him break in and steal the contents. However, nothing goes quite according to plan.
The plot is admittedly pretty thin, but the Brewers (a pair of music video directors making their feature debut) still manage to take the film in unexpected directions – one particular tonal shift is superbly handled and clues you into the fact that there may be more going on than meets the eye.
It’s fair to say that Cage’s performance elevates the film into close to cult territory, to the point where it’s difficult to imagine the film working the same way with any other actor in the role. Similarly, it’s unclear just how much of his performance was already in the script (in one scene, he eats lemon slices with Tabasco sauce on them; in another, he delivers his dialogue while slathering thick white sunscreen onto his nose) and how much was Cage bringing his own ideas to the role. At any rate, it’s a thoroughly enjoyable turn and easily the actor’s most purely entertaining performance since Werner Herzog’s Bad Lieutenant (though it’s notably more reined-in than that).
Though his turn is necessarily less showy, Wood is equally good as Waters, investing him with an edgy nervousness that works well. He also sparks intriguing chemistry with Cage, to the point where you find yourself hoping they work together again soon. (It’s a shame True Detective Season 3 has been cancelled.)
This is largely a two-hander, so the supporting cast don’t get much of a look-in, which feels like a criminal waste, given that the Brewers somehow managed to persuade none other than Jerry Lewis to play Jim’s disapproving father – he’s only in two scenes, but he’s given nothing interesting to do. Similarly, Ethan Suplee overplays his role as a fellow cop, who apparently likes to force people to play Russian roulette in the work-place – the film already has enough craziness in the Cage performance, so this doesn’t really come off. Elsewhere, Sky Ferreira does strong work with an underwritten role as an unexpected inhabitant of the targeted apartment building.
In short, The Trust is a stylish calling card for the Brewer brothers and is unquestionably worth seeing for Cage’s performance.
The Trust is available to watch online in the UK on We Are Colony with exclusive behind-the-scenes extras.