Directed by Alex and Benjamin Brewer
Starring Nicolas Cage, Elijah Wood, Jerry Lewis, Sky Ferreira
Released on 18th July 2016
It was 1996 when Nicolas Cage left Last Vegas and won an Oscar for his trouble. Since then, he’s never really reached the same heights – although he came close with Joe several years ago. But he is, at least, back in Vegas again for his latest, this time for a buddy movie of sorts, The Trust. As to whether he’s back on form ……
He and Elijah Wood aren’t especially good buddies, just two cops who work together. They’re less than stellar at their jobs but sense an opportunity when they get suspicious of a drug dealer’s finances. Their off-the-books investigation uncovers their target has a huge underground safe beneath an apartment building. And they want to find out what’s in it. For their own ends, of course.
From the DVD cover it would be easy to mistake this for yet another heist thriller. But there’s a bit more going on: as well as the buddy movie element, there’s also shades of noir and some decidedly black comedy. And the film has moments of really wicked humour that will make you laugh out loud. The surprise is that most of them come from Cage. To the outside world, he’s the honest cop scraping by on his salary, living with his elderly father and only able to afford a really terrible haircut. His father, incidentally, is played by Jerry Lewis. Yes, the Jerry Lewis, persuaded out of retirement by Cage for a role that sees him in just two scenes lasting less than a minute. And he’s not playing it for laughs. But Cage’s character isn’t quite the straight up cop he appears to be: he’s looking for something to relieve the monotony of his life, and if the excitement comes hand in hand with money, that’s even better. He also loves to play jokes on his more hesitant partner and crack terrible gags, always at the most inappropriate time.
Wood, on the other hand, hate being a cop and uses every opportunity to indulge in his assorted vices. He’s also tempted by the prospect of this safe, but working with the unpredictable Cage is a different matter, especially when he spends $10,000 on a specialist drill all the way from Germany so they can dig down into the safe from the apartment above. After just a few hours, it breaks down. And, inevitably, isn’t all that goes wrong.
But The Trust is surprisingly entertaining. I’m not convinced I’d have paid money to see it at the cinema, especially with Cage’s name on it, but as DVDs go, this is happily above average. Cage and Wood make an unlikely combo, yet their many differences mean they work together remarkably well: not just their characters, but their physical appearances and their acting styles are poles apart. The film itself wastes no time and zips along, as well as having some tinglingly tense moments. And it also makes good use of its Las Vegas location – not the glamorous Strip, but the grubbier, seedier underbelly with the glamorous hotels always in the background, highlighting the two faces of Sin City.
A return to from the ever-frustrating Cage? Not quite, but he’s certainly better in this than in his more recent offerings and he shows he has a nice line in black humour. This isn’t in the league of the recent The Nice Guys, but there are times when it’s not that far behind.
The Trust is released on DVD on Monday, 18 July and reviewed on Talking Pictures on Thursday, 21 July.