Directed by Walter Hill
Starring Bill Paxton, Ice-T, William Sadler, Ice Cube
Review by Jordan
“Greed, for lack of a better word, is good” boasts the slimy Gordon Gecko in Oliver Stone’s Wall Street; “Greed captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit.” Yeah, right, try telling that to the two Arkansas firemen who go in search of a wad of stashed gold, but instead stumble upon a poisoned chalice in an abandoned factory in East St. Louis in Walter Hill’s 1992 thriller Trespass; a film that examines the drawing power of gold in all it’s nature changing glory.
These firemen are the dutiful family man Vince (Bill Paxton, who later starred in the similarly themed and even more tense A Simple Plan) and reckless yet loyal Don (the always memorable William Sadler), who happen across a treasure map claiming to point to the direction of millions of dollars worth of treasure, but upon arriving in it’s dangerous location witness a gang execution and quickly find themselves at war with a growing army of well-dressed, well-armed “businessmen.” To use as leverage, Don holds captive the brother of the gang leader, King James (the surprisingly mesmerizing Ice-T), and straps him to the door of the room they’re holding up in to stop bullets streaming through – this will only delay matters prematurity though, and an explosive, bloody ending is as guaranteed as Ice Cube (who plays the wildcard Savon) constantly scowling at the camera.
It’s hard to access whether Trespass is an under-appreciated, perhaps even classic exercise in escalating tension, or an under-performing lesser work that is deserving of it’s existence on the fringe of the action/thriller genres. It’s neither as good as it could’ve been, nor as bad as it’s non-reputation indicates, and undeniably features at least 3 stand out performances from our hapless firemen out of their depth and struggling to survive and the imposing Ice-T. I’ve previously spoken at length about the male-orientated and highly competent directorial style of Hill’s in reviews of his revered works 48Hrs. and Southern Comfort, and here his craftsmanship as again at the fore, presenting well chopped carnage and some timely flashes of drama, but not even the most stoic fans of Trespass could argue it would appear comfortable among the titles he is renowned for.
Ultimately, the lust for gold and the effect of greed on even the closest friendships is a tremendously enthralling plot device ( surprisingly rarely utilized despite the moralistic quandaries it can inspire in the viewer and the excitement it can conjure), and perhaps for this alone Hill’s flawed picture is worth seeking out. It may not reach any great heights, but compared to other ’90’s B-flicks featuring rappers in important roles and annoying hand-held video footage, and because of an ending that succeeds despite being obvious from the outset, it could even be argued its a bit of a diamond in the rough…
I’ve never seen this but there are tons of films like these in the 90’s that have been overlooked that are quite entertaining. Sounds like this is worth the time.
Yeah good point there. It’s definitely a fun way to spend a night in, and the direction by Walter Hill helps.
Jeez, this is a blast from the past. I remember watching this when I was a pup. So many urban flicks came out around the early nineties so was nice reading your review.
Glad you enjoyed the read. I think I need to look into this era of thrillers more closely!
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