Nicolas Cage is an actor who has a tendency to switch between fantastic, offbeat films to some real turkeys. For every Bad Leutenant there are at least two others that fail to connect with an audience. Part of it could be his choices in films or perhaps his approach to the lesser films that see him phone in a performance. One thing for sure is that there is always a bit of anticipation (on my part) when I watch his latest offering.
Set in modern day Las Vegas, The Trust sees the dull and uneventful lives that Stone (Nicolas Cage) and Waters (Elijah Woods) lead. Stone runs an evidence department team with Waters as one of his trusted subordinates. Life is fairly uninteresting for them both. Stone lives with his ailing father (Jerry Lewis) and Stone is recently separated and carries out a certain amount of self medication to dull the pain of the split. During routine evidence gathering something pops out at Stone regarding a suspect in a crime. Digging a little reveals that there is a connection to a casino service warehouse that has an unusually large refrigerator which turns out to be a high end safe. The pair decide to investigate further and find that it is a front for money laundering. They decide to raid the warehouse and steal the contents of the safe for themselves.
This is a film that cannot decide what it wants to be. At first, it seems to be a buddy cop movie as the two leads kick off their investigation. There is a good deal of humorous dialogue and it moves along at a brisk pace. Then the heist element comes into play including some Oceans 11 style soundtrack. The second half of the movie, the execution of the job, is a whole lot darker in tone and style. Gone are the neon lights of the strip and the surrounding cityscape. In its place is the confined and murky interior of an apartment above the warehouse. The shift in tone and style just about works.
Nicolas Cage is on form here. He underplays the role which is generally a good thing for him. When he goes full on it can become a bit distracting. He captures the essence of a character, a man who is alone and is frustrated by his lack of opportunities. Looking after his father doesn’t help either. He feels trapped and his only release is his work. Due to his lack of social interation he comes across as being awkward. His jokes and comments are ill conceived at times. The screenplay gives Cage all the best lines and enables him to broaden the characters motivations. There is a sequence where he takes a job at a casino to tail a suspect. It is well done and gives a nice insight to just what Stone could achieve given the chance.
Waters, performed by Elijah Wood, is the perfect foil for Stone. He is world weary when we meet him. The initial shot of him is in bed with a prostitute and we see the face of a man who is literally going through the motions. He has his own issues to deal with and the heist seems like a way to help him work through it. What we get as the movie progresses is someone who is self belief is slowly falling away. Instead of redemption and peace, his mental state gets worse. You know that it will end badly.
Overall, a decent movie with engaging performances from the two leads.