“The Trust” Review: Not Enough Stakes, Screaming

Courtesy of Saban Films
Courtesy of Saban Films

“Trust” isn’t generally a word one associates with a post-2000 Nicolas Cage film, but I suppose the association can be made when the title of the movie is quite literally The Trust.

The Trust probably seems like a somewhat familiar movie. Two underpaid cops discover a secret vault during a drug investigation and decide to go corrupt and make millions. It’s a standard procedure heist film, but with Nicolas Cage and Elijah Wood as the two main characters, there’s always some hope that it could turn out to be great.

Of course, and unfortunately, it’s not. Like all truly mediocre films, there are some great moments, but the movie just doesn’t seem to come together in a cohesive manner. A lot of this is simply due to a meandering tone. At times, the movie is pretty funny. Elijah Wood and Nicolas Cage both have pretty good timing and are willing to do some ridiculous things, so the visual gags are generally reasonably well executed. However, the jokes seem to be slightly out of place when put next to genuinely dark and intense moments. Characters die, and not in a funny way. The atmosphere is dark and serious, and the comedy doesn’t relieve the tension, it just seems out of place.

This mismatched tone seems like a large part of the reason the film wasn’t marketed very effectively. I could see this movie being in theaters if it just figured out a way to connect the dots, but instead it’s out on VOD. However, the movie will likely still find its audience nonetheless. Nicolas Cage has his own small, devoted fan base who will watch him in anything to see his animated style of acting. Unfortunately, that’s not as present within the film as one would hope. Cage plays a weird character, but with exception to one very notable freak-out, he’s somewhat subdued. The problem is that Elijah Wood’s character is also pretty subdued, and so the movie loses out on the support and energy of its actors.

Subdued characters are fine, but a problem arises when they aren’t very well developed, and that mostly rests on the script in this case. The actors provide relevant tics to make their characters seem distinct, but there’s not a lot in terms of drive that the movie gives the characters. This leads to a lack of stakes involved within the heist. And if there’s one thing a heist needs, it’s stakes. Without something to push the characters forward, the film seems to just be going through the motions. This makes the movie less engaging and more just watchable.

However, there really is quite a bit of promise here. It doesn’t feel like a bad movie; it just feels exceedingly mediocre. There’s decent cinematography, movement and tension, but the film is just unable to put all of the pieces to the puzzle together. There’s a good chance this will make my “Top 10 Most Forgettable Films of 2016” list, because the movie simply never gets past seeming complacent. All of the pieces are there, but there’s just not enough trust…

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