The directorial debut of siblings Alex and Ben Brewer, The Trust is a darkly comic and frequently ridiculous buddy cop movie that deserves to be seen. Starring Nicolas Cage in just as unpredictable a form as ever, the actor clearly revels in his role as a well-meaning (albeit very nutty) cop with frustrated ambitions. There are undoubtedly flaws in the movie but with this debut the Brewer brothers have marked themselves as directors to watch out for in the future.
Following frustrated Las Vegas Police Lieutenant Jim Stone (Nicolas Cage) and his pot-smoking, depressed friend and colleague Sergeant David Waters (Elijah Wood), the movie shows the power of temptation as Stone becomes preoccupied by the existence of a very valuable criminal vault. Pulling a bemused Waters with him, Stone attempts to pull off the ultimate investigation before going full rogue and attempting a heist.
The secret to a good buddy cop movie has to come from a charismatic duo of actors- whether it’s Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum in the surprisingly brilliant Jump Street reboots, or Nick Frost and Simon Pegg in the near-flawless Hot Fuzz, their chemistry and frequent bickering is what keeps us involved. The casting of Nicolas Cage and Elijah Wood isn’t something many people would think of straight away, and indeed, Wood actually joined the cast as a replacement for man-of-the-moment Jack Huston. Yet it’s a combination that works great- Wood balances well against Cage’s unhinged scene-stealing by playing it largely straight, albeit with the odd neurotic panic.
As ever though, Nicolas Cage is why many people will go and see this film and for those Cage fans, this one is a good ‘un. Although many observers like to joke about Cage’s complete inability to say no to a project (this being in part to a 2007 spending spree that included three houses, twenty-two cars and a dinosaur skull he outbid Leonardo DiCaprio for- yes, really), he has to be admired for his apparent inability to give less than 110% to every film, regardless of how poor the material is.
Some of his lines in The Trust are delivered with such offbeat humour and Cage breathes so much life into the steadily unravelling character of the failed cop that you wonder whether he actually improvised half the time. In fact, it’s Cage’s presence that will make this film far more seen that it might’ve been without him, making his readiness for any new movie another real asset to these debut directors.
If there are some flaws with the film, it’s the female presence that really suffers. The male characters get 99% of all the lines and for the whole film, women are largely scenery with very little backgrounds or motives. It’s a mistake that could have been easily ratified, and in failing to do so, feels neglectful. The film teeters to a surprising conclusion as well, losing some of its outright dark humour to something more serious and reflective. Some may find the change jarring and indeed, it’s hard not to miss the swaggering earlier scenes where Cage and Wood can bounce off each other.
The Trust is a true diamond in the rough- Cage fans will revel in another engrossing performance and the central friendship is as dysfunctionally loving as it should be. It’s not perfect by any means, with an ending that doesn’t really work, but it’s an impressive debut by directors who clearly have a good sense for dark comedy. Hopefully their next film is even better.
[rating=4] | Jen Scouler
Crime, Thriller | USA, 2016 | Signature Entertainment | 15 | 27th May 2016 (UK) | Dir. Alex Brewer, Benjamin Brewer| Nicolas Cage,Elijah Wood,Jerry Lewis,Sky Ferreira