(Walter Hill, USA, 1992)


Walter Hill may not be among the most fashionable of action directors in the ‘90s, but he is still surely one of the best.


Trespass is an unusual project in that it is a tough, all-male thriller produced and written by the normally lighthearted team of Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale (Back to the Future, 1985). But it seems to have been tailored for Hill's familiar skills and sensibility: this multi-racial ensemble of guys inexorably flipping out and betraying each other over an ever-elusive goal could just as easily be the anti-heroes of his masterpiece Southern Comfort (1981).


Rather like in a John Huston movie parable of old (The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, 1948), the story details the complicated dealings over a stash of gold hidden long ago in a now abandoned factory, where virtually the entire plot plays itself out.


Hill delineates in precise moves the struggle between the white boys (William Sadler and Bill Paxton) who hole themselves up in a room with the gold, and the black consortium of dealers and criminals (led by rapper Ice T) who lay siege upon the intruders.


Hill unfolds the dissolution of every interpersonal allegiance, and the reversal of all narrative expectations, with a gleeful, cold-blooded cynicism. His nervy camera movements and rigorous concentration on essential narrative information give the film tremendous energy and excitement.


In the wake of the Rodney King beating, the script builds in a particularly chilling role for a home video camera and a particularly hilarious one for Ice T's mobile phone.


MORE Hill: Extreme Prejudice, Red Heat, Geronimo

© Adrian Martin September 1993

Film Critic: Adrian Martin
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