Combustible Celluloid
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With: Bill Paxton, Ice-T, William Sadler, Ice Cube, Art Evans, De'voreaux White, Bruce A. Young, Glenn Plummer, Stoney Jackson, T.E. Russell, Tommy 'Tiny' Lister, John Toles-Bey, Byron Minns, Tico Wells, Hal Landon Jr.
Written by: Bob Gale, Robert Zemeckis
Directed by: Walter Hill
MPAA Rating: R for violence and language
Running Time: 101
Date: 12/25/1992

Trespass (1992)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Gold Fools

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Walter Hill's Trespass is a slick, simple action flick that neatly lays out his favorite themes: the crossing over of two different cultures, usually involving some sort of territory. Two Arkansas firefighters, Vince (Bill Paxton) and Don (William Sadler), discover what is basically a treasure map, showing the location of a cache of stolen gold, hidden in an abandoned building in St. Louis.

After they arrive and begin poking around, they accidentally witness a gang slaying, and the movie quickly becomes a cat and mouse chase between our good ol' boys and King James (Ice-T) and his crew. Vince and Don manage to kidnap King James' adoptive brother, Lucky (De'voreaux White), who happens to be a junkie. They also meet the cranky Bradlee (Art Evans), who lives in the building. He becomes their prisoner, but may actually have some helpful information. Ice Cube also has an early, potent role as one of King James' men, Savon (he had been in Boyz N the Hood the previous year). Using an idea that has since become very stale, another character, "Video" (T.E. Russell) records everything on a video camera.

The screenplay by Bob Gale and Robert Zemeckis keeps upping the ante, and does not let very many of the characters off easy. But it's Hill's sharp direction that keeps things moving. He uses the crumbling interiors of the building, and all the various levels, doors, stairwells, walls, and partitions, to amazing effect, creating a sensation of being trapped, but with possibilities around every corner. But he's also interested in the clashing of the characters, their strengths and weaknesses -- such as King James' affection for Lucky or Vince's kind, trusting heart -- constantly one-upping each other.

Hill doesn't have the opportunity to go very deep, and certainly there's nothing terribly surprising here, but Trespass is a solid, old-fashioned entertainment that proves this unsung director's talent.

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