Nicolas Cage & Elijah Wood Are a Corrupt Cop Duo in This Quirky Heist Thriller

Nicolas Cage & Elijah Wood Are a Corrupt Cop Duo in This Quirky Heist Thriller

The Big Picture

  • Starring Nicolas Cage and Elijah Wood,
    The Trust
    features a dark sense of humor, intricate heist planning, and great performances by its two leads.
  • Elijah Wood’s career path is akin to Cage’s in that he often chooses unconventional character-type roles as opposed to major blockbusters.
  • Cage has experienced a resurgence post-
    The Trust
    with films such as
    the latter of which comes to theaters this week.

The dramatic rise, fall, and surprising resurgence of Nicolas Cage is a story so strange and unpredictable that it’s almost as exciting as one of the films that he appeared in. It seemed like after his Academy Award win for Leaving Las Vegas that Cage had the potential to be the next Marlon Brando or Daniel Day-Lewis, but unfortunately, his career hit a downward spiral during the early 21st century when he started appearing in many generic genre films, many of which were released directly to DVD or VOD services. Although a majority of these projects are only enjoyable in the “it’s so bad, it’s good” vein, Cage delivered a genuinely memorable performance in the underrated heist film The Trust.

While The Trust’s directors Alex and Ben Brewer didn’t have any noteworthy titles on their resume prior to their work with Cage, the film did feature a memorable co-star in Elijah Wood. Like Cage, Wood’s career has been one of mismanaged expectations; while many may have expected him to accept subsequent blockbuster roles following the unprecedented critical and commercial success of his performance as Frodo Baggins in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Wood decided to reinvent himself as a character actor. Cage and Wood made for a dynamic screen duo that turned The Trust into an above-average crime thriller.

What Is ‘The Trust’ About?

Set in the backwater slums of Las Vegas, The Trust focuses on two corrupt cops who are looking to improve their circumstances through illicit means. Wood stars as Sergeant David Waters, a disillusioned young cop who has come to regret his life’s decisions. While he once harbored dreams of making a difference, he finds himself doing little more than busting small-time crimes, only to see the culprits set free. The only true friend that Waters has on the force is Cage’s character, Lieutenant Jim Stone, who works alongside him collecting evidence handled by the more experienced officers during their drug raids. After the pair discovers an unmarked case belonging to a drug dealer, they find out that there’s $20,000 in cash hidden in a local hotel. Given their experience with the local crime scene and the resources at their disposal, Waters and Stone could feasibly pull off a heist without any of their superiors knowing.

The most integral aspect of any heist movie isn’t the MacGuffin itself, but the reason why the characters are motivated to pull off such a dangerous scheme; Ocean’s Eleven, for instance, isn’t nearly as effective if Danny Ocean (George Clooney) isn’t trying to win back his ex-wife, Tess (Julia Roberts). The Trust does a great job at showing the mundanity of Stone and Waters’ existence, and how they feel unfulfilled by their profession. While it’s evident that both men are much more street smart and savvy than the average cop, they’ve been essentially ignored by supervisors who see them as little more than “clean up duty.” Pulling off a complex heist isn’t just a way to make a cheap financial reward — it’s a subtle act of revenge that allows these two “losers” to finally put their skills to good use.


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‘The Trust’ Has a Dark Sense of Humor

Nicolas Cage and Elijah Wood in 'The Trust'
Image via Saban Films

As with any great heist movie, the planning and scheming that the two characters put into their ambitious endeavor is often more entertaining than the robbery sequence itself. In The Trust, the audience gets to learn more about what differentiates the two men as they discuss alternate plans for the robbery. While Waters is hardly a straightforward movie hero, he isn’t interested in pulling off a job that could potentially throw the local crime scene into chaos and place the two of them in danger. Comparatively, Stone seems to view the entire ordeal as an elaborate game in which he can fulfill any of his strangest ideas. There’s a great sense of tension and comic relief that emerges from the different way they view the heist; seeing Cage say “here’s the drill” while holding an actual drill is indicative of the dark sense of humor that The Trust has.

Although narratively it’s not a film that takes many risks, The Trust is able to delve into the post-robbery anxieties better than most heist stories. Upon realizing that they have essentially gotten away with their scheme, both Stone and Waters begin to suspect each other’s intentions, growing increasingly cynical about their long-term relationship. While Wood is very good at showing Waters’ anxieties, Cage gives one of his most genuinely terrifying performances in years as a character who does not abide by any social constructs. The Trust is able to take viewers off guard by transforming Stone from the butt of a joke to a genuinely menacing figure in a matter of mere moments. Audiences expecting just another generic film in which Cage overacts may be surprised to find that The Trust is actually a very well constructed analysis of criminal psychology.

Elijah Wood Is Similar to Nicolas Cage in Some Respects

While The Trust is the only time that the two have worked together on screen, Wood’s career has begun to resemble Cage’s in many ways. Wood may no longer be in the spotlight, but he has chosen interesting projects like Come to Daddy and I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore, where he is able to play more idiosyncratic characters. Like Cage, Wood has chosen a route of artistic freedom over appearing in projects that would seemingly be more commercial. Cage has certainly grown a niche fandom that will loyally check out any project that he works on, and if Wood’s choices thus far have been any indication, he could certainly do the exact same.

Although he received a good deal of backlash for his over-the-top performances throughout the 21st century, Cage hit a major career resurgence in the aftermath of The Trust. After his performance in Michael Sarnoski‘s heartbreaking drama Pig earned him some of the best reviews of his entire career, Cage found a way to lampoon his own reputation when he appeared as a fictionalized version of himself in the comedy The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent. He has also recently returned to the thriller genre by playing a serial killer in Osgood Perkins‘ latest horror thriller Longlegs, in a performance that has been heralded as “terrifying” by early reviews. Read our Collider guide here for everything you need to know before you see Longlegs, in theaters July 12.

The Trust is available to stream on Max in the U.S.

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