Oscar winner Nicolas Cage and Elijah Wood star as Vegas cops who stumble upon the location of a hidden vault belonging to local drug dealers. Immediately, they devise a master plan to make off with the mad stacks of cash they are sure are stored within. But what they find inside puts their lives in grave danger in this action-packed, twist-filled crime-thriller.
Before I start this review, I have a confession I need to make… Growing up in the 90s, I loved Nicolas Cage’s horribly bad and over the top performances. ‘Face off,’ ‘Con Air,’ and ‘The Rock’ were all movies I would gleefully watch just to laugh at Cage’s performances while watching some decent explosions and action. But when the millennium rolled around, something changed. With the exception of 2006’s ‘The Wicker Man’ (which is one of his most manic and craziest performances) and a few others, his energetic and eccentric performances turned lazy, making him appear to be wondering why he was even on set.
With a few exceptions, I have to admit I am a sucker for a good heist film. As long as it has an elaborate heist and slew of characters I can get behind (‘Ocean’s Eleven,’ and ‘Fast Five’ being good examples), I am sold. But we are talking about the Nick Cage of this decade, so I immediately had to temper my expectations. I decided as long as I got my old manic Nicolas Cage performance I once loved, then that would be enough for me.
Nicolas Cage stars as Jim Stone, a Las Vegas police Lieutenant who isn't satisfied with his position in life. This leads Jim to become a tad unhinged. He finds out about a safe that is below a series of apartments that he wants to break into. Stone comes up with a ludicrous scheme to break into the safe that only a fool would help him with. Unfortunately, I had to project a lot of Jim’s motivations onto this summary, because Cage gives us nothing here as far as insight into his character. He just comes up with the plans and acts suspicious at times. Yes, I hate to tell you folks, but Nick Cage “uncaged” here. There are times where you think he is going to slip into the manic and crazy Nick Cage I one loved, but then he pulls back and so do I. There is only one scene at the end of the film where Cage unleashes his old school insanity, but that is it. What we are left with is a limp and tired performance from an actor who we once turned to for amusing performances.
We also have Elijah Wood as David Waters. David is a Sargent in the Las Vegas Police Department and works under Jim. David has a naïve personality, and because of that is coerced by Jim into doing the vault heist, though David has his doubts. Wood is actually quite good here as a seemingly aloof cop who got lucky enough to become a Sargent and is easily manipulated by his peers. But this film is titled ‘The Trust,’ and that refers to the trust that David has for Jim. The problem is that besides Jim’s rank and David’s naivety, there is absolutely no reason given for David to trust Jim. This ultimately serves as a detriment to the character of David, as he turns from naïve to plain dumb, ignoring the signs that Jim must have ulterior motives. David only questions Jim a few times about his plan, and that is particularly unbelievable because David is the one who is tasked to crack the safe. In the end, the only character defining trait is that he is aloof and unfazed, and it’s a shame that a good performance is so undercut by an unmotivated and impossible plot.
Once we get to the heist itself, it's actually the best part of the film. I found it interesting to focus on a smaller heist that only requires two participants. This is also where all the character development happens for both Jim and David, as Jim becomes more unhinged and David becomes more nervous, it finally turns into the film I wanted the entire time, even giving me my one Cage “uncaged” moment. But it comes far too late in the film and isn’t enough to save the limp first half. This is a very simple heist that requires only two people to execute it. I don’t understand why they feel like it should take so long to get to the heist, and the good stuff we all want from a heist film. This isn’t a bad film, it’s just an uninspired one that doesn’t know how to utilize its lead actors and lets them down on many points.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Status
Lionsgate brings ‘The Trust’ to Blu-ray with a slip cover box that opens up to a single BD-25 disc with an Ultraviolet code on the opposite side of the case. Once the Blu-ray starts, there are a series of skippable theatrical trailers that lead to a very stock menu.
‘The Trust’ comes to Blu-ray with a 1080P AVC MPEG-4 encode that fares quite well despite its meager budget of only $9 million. Framed at a 1.85:1 aspect ratio, this is not a transfer that is meant to show the glitz and glam of the infamous city of sin. Instead, it’s meant to show the gritty underbelly beneath the surface, and as a result it is more of an intentionally grainy film then the usual slickness that we usually see Las Vegas portrayed.
Grain levels are impressive and just right, and never upstage the overall quality of the transfer. Because of those great grain levels, it allows detail work to shine, and not show the budgetary restraints that easily could have reared their ugly heads. Color tones can be a bit on the harsh side. A lot of the end of the film heist has a green tone to it that does take over the dimension of the transfer, and gives it more of a flat look.
This could have easily been a very troubled transfer. Grainy films that are low budget like this tend to not fare so well with me. They tend to all have a flat and grainy quality to them that takes over the entire transfer. With the exception of a few moments, this transfer represents this film well and is far better than the film itself.
‘The Trust’ looks to crack the code of Blu-ray with a DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio track that is saved by a fun score. A lot of what makes a heist film is its snappy score, and even though this score doesn't hold a candle to an ‘Ocean’s Eleven’ score, it's still a fun one. With that being said, this track does a great job at putting this fun score on display. Fronts, surrounds and the LFE track work together to give this score some dynamic range and bring it to life.
Voice and over all levels are spot on and naturalistic, understanding that there aren't a lot of moments that are here to wow its audience. This is a more of a dramatic heist film with only one shoot out that comes at the very end of the film. But what it does do, it does well and like the video quality, it surpassed my expectations. This track shows that you don't need to have a huge budget and lots of explosions to put together a good audio track, and that is what I love about today's audio tracks in general.
Audio Commentary with Alex and David Brewer – What an awkward Commentary this is. This must be the two brothers’ first commentary, because they indulge in inside jokes with each other, go off topic constantly, rarely talk about the scene that is on screen, and are just not informative. This should be shown as an example in film school about how not to do a commentary.
The Dynamic Duo: Nicholas Cage and Elijah Wood (5:38 HD) – A short featurette stroking the egos of Cage and Wood.
The Visuals of Vegas (5:27 HD) – A piece about how great it is to shoot in Las Vegas and how Cage thinks it give him his good luck.
‘The Trust’ is a very frustrating film for me; its glacier-paced first half and the frustratingly naïve character of David seriously grated on me. I felt like yelling at the screen, “Get on with it!” Once they finally do get to the heist, I actually had a lot of fun seeing a smaller heist then we are used to seeing. At the beginning of this review I said that as long as I got my crazy ol’ Nick Cage performance then I'd be happy. Well I didn't get that. Instead I got neutered Cage and that leads to this being a mediocre film with a decent transfer.