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Thursday, March 2, 2017

Blu-ray Review: #TrespassAgainstUs

The barely discernible Trespass Against Us can't decide what it is, and is therefore of little use to us.

Review by Matt Cummings

It's never a good sign when a major motion picture with A-list stars makes only $5,711 in its release. No, that's not a typo: Trespass Against Us made absolutely no money in its 2016 run, and the reasons become painfully clear as this snoozer unfolds. Rather than becoming a great crime drama or a terse family drama with violent resolutions, Trespass Against Us settles for far less and drags us down with it.

The Cutler family lives on the very edge of accepted social norms. Living in the country and burning trash to keep warm, the family's travel trailers form a circle of defense against their illicit activities, lead by the father Colby (Brendan Gleeson). He's a low-level gangster through and through, convinced that schools are terrible, the police are worse, and that family is all that protects him. His eldest son Chad (Michael Fassbender) doesn't agree: his marriage has produced two children and a relatively happy life. Having never attended school, Chad realizes that he cannot continue down the same path as his father, and makes plans to start a new life. Unfortunately, Colby has other plans, employing Chad in one more heist that draws the attention of all of Britain's police force. Unsure of how to break free from his father, and under intense scrutiny by the police, Chad begins a slow decent that will see his family loyalty tested while his manipulative father looks on.

Even at 99 minutes, Trespass Against Us is too long, dragging itself through its own mud of despair, hoping we'll empathize for people who commit crimes. Not likely. Moreover, this one will remind you of better British crime dramas, better family dramas, and better warnings against what not to do with your life. That's the whole of Trespass, and it fails to deliver in any category. Fassbender can't decide if Chad is a tough guy waiting for his chance or a misfit who needs the back hand of his father to shake him back to his side. Fraser, another top actor, sits around in his gym pants for most of the film, rather than go out on raids with his son. He's supposed to be the godfather of this crew but none of what he does is threatening beyond his carefully placed words. Speaking of which, you'll be hard pressed to find another movie recently where the human language is pulverized as much as it is here. I actually had to place the subtitles on just to follow it, and even then I was hearing British slang words that meant nothing to me.

There's never a sense that Trespass Against Us knows what it wants, either. Sean Harris is cast here as a truly damaged person, but speaks maybe three lines throughout, choosing instead to serve as the most extreme and disconnected member of the Cutler crime family. His antics are hardly questioned, and no one seeks to actually help Gordon with his mental illnesses. In fact, we never truly know why the Cutlers have continued to choose this life, nor are we ever afraid of them. They fail to either capture our hearts or scare us out of ours. Director Adam Smith's first foray is visually impressive on Blu-ray, while the audio is actually fairly immersive. But the lack of suitable supplements and meandering story with little resolution makes this a tough sell.

Trespass Against Us is a tired film about people no one can understand and can barely relate. It can't decide if it's a British crime story, a family drama, or an exercise in how not to live one's life. It squanders a great cast as it continually reminds us why not all films are actually film worthy. Skip this one, even as a rental - there are far better alternatives out there.

Trespass Against Us is rated R for pervasive language, some disturbing behavior and brief graphic nudity and has a runtime of 99 minutes.

Discuss this review with fellow SJF fans on Facebook. On Twitter, follow us at @SandwichJohnFilms, and follow author Matt Cummings at @mfc90125.

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