Review: Trespass Against Us
Everybody wants the best for their kids. Chad Cutler (Michael Fassbender) is no exception, even though his career path is less than ordinary. Chad is a criminal. He makes his living robbing people and outrunning the cops on jobs set up by his father, Colby (Brendan Gleason). Chad does not hide this from his children. They know that the neighbors they live with in their makeshift trailer park commune are considered bad people. The kids know to not talk to cops, they run away from school, young Tyson even tries a few times to get in on the action by stowing away in the back of dad's getaway vehicle.
Colby couldn't be more proud of his life, setting up these deals for his son and neighbors. He constantly undercuts his son to make sure everyone understands that he is the one in charge. If Colby wants the robbery to happen on your day off, it's happening on your day off. If grandpa wants the kids to skip school to head to the dog fights, they aren't going to school. Mom says it's time to go to bed, but it's not time until grandpa says it is. Colby has total control over his family and Chad feels emasculated by it.
While Trespass Against Us is supposedly a tale about white trash gangsters in Ireland, it's the family story that is the beating heart that really impresses. The action scenes are fleeting, leaving you with plenty of time to really feel Chad's frustration at his father and his kids with every second of Fassbender's beautiful performance. They make reference to the fact that Chad is an artist, yet we never see the evidence anywhere but on his pained face. We only see him chain smoke and give chase to the cops because he has all but given up trying to live his own life and has instead focused on making his kid's lives better. Gleeson is intimidating as the tough as nails patriarch that would be perfectly happy if in a few years Tyson is doing his own jobs and pissing off the police.
The few action scenes are well paced and give a nice break from the family drama at the center. Chad is always the driver while his lackeys do the dirty work of getting in and out with the goods. Watching them narrowly escaping the bumbling police a few times is really fun, particularly in one scene involving a car that has been completely covered in yellow paint except for a small pinhole on the drivers side. Chad races across yards and through narrow underpasses at high speeds to evade and ultimately annoy the cops.
The only thing that Chad wants is for his kids to realize that this isn't a way to live. At the end he tries to get this point across by falling on his sword to try and teach them this lesson, and in the last few moments we don't really know if the message has rubbed off on them. We can only hope along with Chad that his father's influence hasn't won out. It probably hasn't, but you can hope.