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— W.C.U.N — Pittsburgh!!

TRESPASS (1992) Dir. Walter Hill. Written by Bob Gale and Robert Zemeckis. Starring: William Sadler, Bill Paxton, Ice-T, Ice Cube, Art Evans, Tommy Tiny Lister, Glenn Plummer, and De'voreaux White.

Two Arkansas Firemen, Don and Vince come into possession of a treasure map that promises a 50-year-old cache of stolen relics from a Catholic church. The catch is it's in an abandoned building in East St. Louis. Paxton is a bit of a naive idiot in this one - an interesting departure from his usual loudmouth antics, but more than a little irritating when the chips are down. Sadler, on the other hand, is more the desperate Fred C. Dobbs type and as things start to heat up you just know these two are going to self-destruct and for the most part that's exactly what they do when their treasure hunt turns into a hostage situation.  For a film whose leading men are character actors, I can't help but imagine how many subpar action films would be better off casting older character actors as leads instead of models and leading men wannabes. Trespass certainly stands as a shining example of this model. Too bad it's a rarity. The rather original idea of a treasure hunt in the inner city going wrong and pitting a couple of good ol' boys against a gang of drug dealers is ripe with racial tension and Water Hill certainly has the chops to deliver an action film capable of going there, but he seems hamstrung by the script by Robert Zemekis, and Bob Gale - yes that Robert Zemekis and Bob Gale. You can't get much more whitebread than Back to the Future and it's telling that Hill allowed Ice T and Cube to rewrite their dialogue as they saw fit. Still, this is an action film first and foremost and not social commentary, though it would perhaps be better remembered today if it had dealt with the inherent dynamics and not simply boiled it down to a macho standoff. All this may sound like I don't like the film which is not true. It's another underrated Hill flick that deserves a larger audience and the ending is satisfying if much of the third act devolves into something far less than it's premise suggests. Aside from the missed opportunity with its subtext,  I have to point out the bizarre choice of score performed by Ry Cooder. Originally scored by jazz maestro John Zorn then scrapped by Hill in favor of Cooder, I have to wonder what the hell Zorn turned in because Cooder's score is an atonal, sparse acid jazz monster - a type of music I generally love - but one that belongs nowhere near the vicinity of this film. It may be one of the most delightfully wrong-headed scores of the 90's.  

 

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