Burning ash embers and thick clouds of grey toned smoke filled the hallway. Two brave firemen smash through a burning apartment door. On his knees, an agitated old man frantically digs through his belongings. He turns, his eyes half crazed, full of fear. With shouts of confused nonsense, he pushes a scruffy old envelope towards the firefighters. Taken by surprise the firemen helplessly try to reach out to the deranged old man. In a flash of madness, he wildly runs deeper into the burning flames, screaming to his agonising death.
Back at the station, the two Arkansas firemen reflect back to the horrifying, fretful scene. Still shocked by the events, Vince Gillian (Bill Paxton) and his good friend Don Perry (William Sadler) consider the fact, it felt like the old man was almost praying for forgiveness. But from what? They open the scorched folder. It was filled with vintage newspaper clippings from years gone by. The articles referred to a grand robbery of highly valuable gold religious items stolen from a Catholic church. Reading that the stolen treasure and culprits were never found. Was it possible this old man was possibly the thief? Digging deeper inside the folder, wrapped in paper, was a small golden cross. Vince looks in awe. The paper was a map. A treasure map showing the whereabouts of the buried haul. Directions pointing to a dilapidated warehouse in East St Louis. Don’s eyes open wide to the sound of ker-ching and then whirl round like a fruit machine.
So, there it was, the perfect get rich plan. A historic robbery so long ago it would be surely forgotten and written off? Insurance claims cashed in and all the victims and offenders more than likely having passed away to the other side. Case closed, treasure lost forever. OK, it was also very possibly just a wild goose chase. Maybe the old fella had flown completely over the cuckoo’s nest? However, it wouldn’t hurt to go look, would it? They had the treasure map. It would be exciting. Yep, a simple, perfect plan… Hey shouldn’t Bill Paxton know a thing or two about best laid Simple Plan’s? Anyhow what’s the worst that could happen?… ENTER THE MULLET!
King James (Ice T) is sleek. The coolest gang boss from Illinois. Fancy shoes, chic black suit, smart looking fedora and a brand-new flip phone. To top off his bitch-ass-boss look he also has a, ummm… a big ass mullet! His mullet and his gang are pissed after a deal went sour. There was blood and betrayal. It had to be sorted. They needed the perfect place. Far from prying eyes. You know the place, right? Off the track.
Savon – “I told you that muthafucka was scandalous! Now we get to break him off some.“
King James – “It wouldn’t of happened if he had someone with him to get that package. I wanna know who it is.“
King James – “Wicked, set it up for Saturday. I wanna do it somewhere way out where no one is, off the track!“
Wicked – “I got just the ticket KJ.“
Yeah, of course that “off the track” meet point had to be in East St Louis. Just where our unsuspecting, happy go lucky, treasure hunting fireman are heading. The large factory building has been abandoned and left derelict for many years. Broken windows and shattered glass. Hanging electrical wires and brick rubble from years of looting and vandalism have added to the wrecked state. However, the interior might be covered in needles and waste from squatters long gone but the overall building structure was as strong and sound as Fort Knox. Solid thick brick and concrete walls with hanging doors as strong as oak trees. Somewhere, hidden from sight, one resident knew it would be best if he kept himself unseen. This was Bradlee’s (Art Evans) humble abode. His own home with a view! The desolate wasteland of a dumping ground the front yard of the factory was. It was his place, Bradlee was happy. “Then these two crackers and a bunch of gangbangers turn up!”
Bradlee – “Who’s going to call the cops? The pidgeons or the rats?“
So, this unfortunate destiny is about to play out. The worlds of our two gold-digging firefighters and King Mullet’s gang of hoodlums on a crash course to collide right bang in the middle of poor Bradlee’s home sweet home. No phones, no one to hear you scream or the sound of gunfire. Caught up fighting for your life in a war zone off the beaten tracks. Sounds bad right? “Well not as bad as this tagline….”
Tagline – They all came to the wrong place at the wrong time!
The tagline doesn’t sell it however Trespass is a very decent 90s action movie with enough constant peril to keep your eyes glued to the screen. Directed by film fan fav Walter Hill “I wanted to make a down-and-dirty thriller. I wanted to shoot it in a fast, hard style. I wanted to work off the cuff, making it all happen right there.“
There are a few Walter Hill tell-tale signs in Trespass. Like the up close and personal camera shots especially as the opening credits start, featuring the dialogue above, which reminded me of The Warriors (1979). Also, the urban landscape locations and derelict factories and buildings are a familiar sight within his films. Very often Walter is credited for writing the premise of the story or adapting the screenplays. Not so in Trespass, the writers are none other than the creators of the Back To The Future universe, Bob Gale and Robert Zemeckis. Something I was very surprised to read. Apparently, they had wrote the script together back in the 70s. I imagine as the other projects started to gain momentum Trespass, originally called Looters, got shelved. Until, producer Neil Canton showed it to Walter Hill.
The rest of the cast all consisted of King James’ gang. Which featured the tough and fiery, Savon (Ice Cube), King James’ younger brother Lucky (De’voreaux White) and his right-hand man and designer clothed, Wicked (Stoney Jackson). Other gang members are pimp daddy Raymond (Bruce A Young) sharp shooter! Luther (Glenn Plummer) and Video (T.E Russell) who recorded their gangster moves on his movie camera. Which brings us to King’s muscle man, Cletus (Tommy “Tiny” Lister).
It was very sad to hear the too early passing of Tommy “Tiny” Lister last month in December. A big framed, musclebound hulk of a man with a lazy eye. Probably most famous for his role as President Lindberg in The Fifth Element (1997) but you would surely have seen Tiny in hundreds of roles dotted about anything from low budget movies to Hollywood blockbusters and even TV shows, going right back to Runaway Train (1984). Now Tiny doesn’t get much to do here in Trespass but he is responsible for a brilliantly, out of the box, way to find the gold. Ok it’s a slight spoiler but it’s so crazy I just gotta say it. Cletus wears sharped studded football boots for some reason! It’s mentioned in a scene. Our two treasure hunters hear this. On knowing Cletus is waiting for them on the floor above they use their metal detector on the ceiling to locate him. At this point they have given up on finding the gold. Each time they find Cletus, he moves. Then eventually he just stands stills? But hang on? They hear him over the other side of the room! No wonder they can’t find the gold on the map in the floor? They weren’t looking in the right place! So I find myself having to praise whoever came up with the plot device of adding a character with metal shoe studs to move their story along.
Trespass is well worth your time if you haven’t seen it. The cast are all excellent and the films pace, even with the confined small set, keeps you on your toes. Things twist and turn as plans fall apart and the stakes get more and more desperate. There’s high tension as the two party’s standoff against each other. It’s a great late-night action with a few beers’ kind of film. Let me know your thoughts on this one if you want to. Thanks for reading my review…. Mikey Wolfman
Don – “I don’t know what this stuff is anymore. Our gold. God’s gold. Fool’s gold.“