You could be forgiven for maybe losing track of the endless array of recent Nicolas Cage movies. Since 2010 he has appeared in well over 15 films, and they range from studio releases like The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Kick-Ass, and Season of the Witch to “Redbox specials” like Seeking Justice, Left Behind, and Pay the Ghost — none of which are very good. But if you’re willing to sift through some fairly goofy movies, you’ll also find a few solid independent features on Mr. Cage’s recent filmography. (It should also be noted that Cage is always fun to watch, even in bad movies. Some might even say “especially in bad movies.”) David Gordon Green’s Joe, for example, stands out among Cage’s flurry of films — and so does an off-kilter, darkly amusing, and satisfyingly weird crime story called The Trust.
Debut feature of writer/directors Alex and Benjamin Brewer, The Trust may, at first glance, looks like just another story about cops vs. crooks, albeit one with a cast that includes people like Nicolas Cage, Elijah Wood, Ethan Suplee, Sky Ferreira, and Jerry Lewis(!) — but upon further inspection one realizes that The Trust is not at all the generic potboiler one may expect from its premise. It’s actually got a lot in common with those low-key, wise-ass, and coolly laconic cop movies from the late 1970s. The kind that would probably star Elliott Gould and/or James Caan.
Put simply, The Trust is about two morally unreliable yet undeniably amusing cops (Cage and Wood) who decide to steal a whole lot of money from a very dangerous criminal. But while the basic plot synopsis sounds about as conventional as a typical cop show rerun, the Brewer brothers have a lot more to offer than just a familiar plot and two mismatched partners in crime.
To its credit, The Trust is considerably more interested in character quirks and offbeat conversations filled with basic tropes and cliches, and the chemistry between the two leads is really quite entertaining. That they’re both morally shady (but not downright rotten) “dirty” cops is what keeps The Trust rolling for its first 45 minutes — and then, of course, the heist itself hits all sorts of snags as our two affable anti-heroes find themselves faced with some very dark decisions.
Aside from Cage’s and Wood’s sardonic chemistry, The Trust also benefits from a quick-witted, foul-mouthed screenplay, a few nice bits from the supporting cast, and a hard-boiled neo-noir presentation that’s simply fun to watch unfold. So while, sure, lots of Nicolas Cage’s recent movies could be described as forgettable Netflix fodder, he still manages to sink his teeth into a few very solid projects from time to time, and The Trust is certainly one of his most interesting indie flicks in years.
4 untrustworthy-yet-appealing burritos out of 5
Photo: Saban Films