Trespass was doomed from the beginning. Set to play the antagonist, Nicolas Cage walked off the set only to return a few days later to play the protagonist. The studio, showing little faith in the finished product, opted to give the film a limited release in theatres with a release to video-on-demand the same day and, to top it all off, set a home video release date before it even hit theatres and VOD. It doesn't help that the film reunites one of Hollywood's most misunderstood actors with director Joel Schumacher, who still can't escape the wrath of film critics and audiences for directing Batman & Robin. Trespass is another home invasion movie; a sub-genre that has been done very well (Panic Room) and has been done decently (Hostage). It is neither Cage nor Schumacher that is to blame for how this film turned out, but screenwriter Karl Gajdusek, whose only previous credits include episodes of the television show Dead Like Me. The idea and execution is derivative of home invasion movies that came before it and offers nothing new or exciting to the premise. Everything is by-the-numbers, full of clichés and idiotic plot twists, resulting in a predictable climax. Even worse, Trespass has stupid criminals and stupid victims making it hard to root for either one. With a brisk 90-minute running time it doesn't waste time jumping into the core of the plot though.
Nicolas Cage plays Kyle Miller, a diamond dealer who lives in a lavish isolated mansion with his wife Sarah (Nicole Kidman) and daughter Avery (Liana Liberato). Soon after Kyle arrives home, Avery has snuck out of the house to attend a party in an attempt to set up the suspense that she'll return when everything goes awry. Only 12 minutes in, the Miller home has been invaded by four criminals. The apparent ringleader (Ben Mendelsohn) wants Kyle to open his safe, which is believed to contain hundreds of thousands worth of diamonds and cash. The criminals plan to be in and out of the house in twenty minutes, but matters grow difficult when Kyle stubbornly refuses to bend to their will. Meanwhile, Sarah notices something familiar about one of the criminals (Cam Gigandet) while the emotionally unstable female of the group simply wanders around the house.
Trespass is 90 minutes of "open the safe," "I refuse" dialogue and overacting, the latter of which makes the film a bit more tolerable than it should've been. There's not much suspense because you can see it coming a mile away and when the illogical plot twist is thrown in all you can do is roll your eyes. Joel Schumacher has directed his share of great, average, and bad films and even if you look at the ones that linger somewhere between bad and average, he's a competent director that knows how to maintain suspense when necessary. Unfortunately, it never occurred to him or the two Academy Award winning actors leading the cast to demand a rewrite of the script. The set-up and execution is so generic that I can't believe anyone involved took part for anything other than money. Cage has done little to keep secret that he's not opposed to renting himself out if the fee is right. With such poor characterization and stilted dialogue, credit must be given to the actors for not sleepwalking through their roles. Mendelsohn brings to mind a young Gary Oldman, but anyone familiar with Cage's filmography will admit that Trespass may have been a better film if he had played Mendelsohn's role. Kidman brings nothing noteworthy to the role of Sarah, but there's nothing noteworthy about the character. Liberato is playing the typical daughter, who just wants to rebel against her parents and go to a party. The role is thankless, but the actress may actually have some talent that could be put to better use in a better movie.
Thankfully Cage is always reliable to make something entertain if all else fails and his performance doesn't disappoint. Cage has a tendency to go so over-the-top in bad movies that it's like he's satirizing the ridiculousness of everything; this tendency is often mistaken for bad acting. If you watch Deadfall or The Wicker Man, it becomes apparent that Cage is totally self-aware of the ridiculousness of what he's doing. Cage overacts in Trespass but handles the material more seriously than usual. His performance is fun to watch as he doesn't play it straight (he's attached a barely noticeable accent and plays Kyle in a very pathetic manner), but it doesn't save the film or add enough to boost it to cult "so-bad-its-good" status. Few actors play perpetually on edge as well as Cage does and he makes the film marginally better.
Trespass is not offensively bad; it's not a film that anyone will kick themselves over wasting 90 minutes of their life on. It's just a forgettable thriller that is so derivative of other films in the genre you may confuse plot elements of other films with this one. It's not an insult to the intelligence of the people watching it, but an insult to the intelligence of those involved. It's never boring, but it fails to create any plausible suspense and lacks the substance necessary to recommend it. It's not that better home invasion films have come before it; if this were the first, it would remain a mediocre effort.