With poster art that promises a noir-ish excursion into Michael Mann crime territory (a beat-to-hell Elijah Wood sporting a pistol and Cage with his 70s hard-man moustache) and a tag-line that reads "Bad Cops Make The Best Criminals" you're pretty much set for gritty professionals doing professional things in the neon-soaked night-sprawl of Las Vegas.
Imagine the surprise when THE TRUST turns out to be something very different indeed. Imagine THE BLING RING meets OCEANS 11 - Wes Anderson directing a heist film, if you will.
In it Cage plays Vegas PD officer Stone, a neurotic middle-aged guy still living with his dad, who stumbles upon a crime syndicate and their hidden loot. He convinces his underling and friend Waters (Elijah Wood), a man who hates his job as a forensic evidence logger so much he laughs hysterically at crime scenes, to join him in breaking into a hidden vault.
We've seen it all before, sure, but not necessarily through the prism of indie-cinema quirkiness. The first 2/3 of THE TRUST is a black-comedy carried almost entirely by the leads talent; Cage's goofy, Dad-joke charm and Wood's likeable nervous energy. It's a two-hander that gives the stars room to breathe without the machinations of yet another heist-planning film.
It's good to see Cage back with material that doesn't require him to take himself too seriously, we're not in CON-AIR territory but we are still given the same measured amount of tongue in cheek. It's curious, then, when the final act takes such a sudden turn. While not as severe, nor as alienating as say Kevin Smith's third act of TUSK, THE TRUST does delve into some pitch-black territory where the characters become two very small fish dropped into a very large shark tank. When the gravity of their actions and the possible repercussions begin to set in the story does away with the black humour in lieu of something much darker, a Treasure of Sierra Madre-esque tale of greed and punishment. It's a far cry from the acute, left of field humour the first hour keep us bopping along with.
Sure, it's never fall-out-of-your-chair hilarious to begin with but it's off-beat and quirky enough to be engaging, so when the paranoia sets in and the tension escalates to boiling point it feels all the more savage when it finally bubbles over.
Given both Cage and Wood's efforts of late, a couple more films like THE TRUST wouldn't go astray. A couple more films like FACE/OFF and LORD OF THE RINGS, however, would be very welcome, just to remind us what these guys are capable of. In the mean time, THE TRUST will do.