We love heist films. They are one of the most exciting genres in cinema for a number of reasons. These movies allow us to imagine being part of something that will never do in real life. They present us with amazing characters, complicated plots, interesting twists, and, of course, the anxiety caused by not knowing if the team of thieves is going to be able to pull off the heist with success. So, when looking to create a new narrative around this type of story, Solid Rock Trust tries to go in the least expected way, and it works, to a point.
Solid Rock Trust is a film written and directed by Rick Ives, and stars Koko Marshall, Alexander Hearth, Ving Nguyen, and Summer Rain Menkee. The film tells the story of Maddie, a talented hacker that has managed to gather a team of like thinkers to her cause, robbing a bank and getting away with it. However, when things start spinning out of control, Maddie must make use of her cleverness and talents to come out on top, or she might be losing a lot more than millions of dollars.
One-location films are often the result of a low-budget production. And yet, if the story is compelling and the characters are worth following around, the one location aspect of the movie can be overlooked. And in the hands of a good director, it can even be taken as an advantage in creating a memorable location that will stay in people’s minds even after the credits roll. Solid Rock Trust tries to be all these things, and while it works as a thriller with a wonderful main character, some things make it stumble a bit throughout its runtime.
The first thing to notice about the movie is that it is actually very well-edited. From the moment the intro starts rolling, it becomes apparent that this will be a movie that tries to keep up the pace and flow of the story with as much strength as it can. The second thing is, of course, Koko Marshall herself, the actress carries the film on her shoulders from beginning to end, even when she is not the only character to appear on-screen. She is in fact alone for most of the movie, and that is a huge acting challenge because she alone has to be enough to keep people watching.
Solid Rock Trust is successful in that last part because the character Marshall is building here is quite interesting. She is capable, has a plan, it has incredible amounts of determination, and yet, she is not unbeatable enough that she is not able to feel doubt or fear when things start not going according to plan. Maddie quickly becomes a character we can be invested in and learn about what has pushed her to be At this moment, orchestrating the heist, is an interesting story.
However, the same cannot be said for the rest of the characters or the way the narrative presents them. On paper, having a character spend most of the movie’s runtime talking over the phone is not something new. Phone Booth, and Locke, to name a few, have done it before, Locke especially excelled at creating a mystery surrounding the past of the character and why he was doing what he was doing. Solid Rock Trust does the same with Maddie, but the secondary characters suffer quite a bit.
This is a very dialogue-heavy film, which is not bad, but at times the tool feels like it is overextending its use. Especially when in the middle of a heist. There are some very frustrating conversations when you can see in your mind the other characters just stopping in their tracks, in the middle of the heist, to have petty discussions with Maddie over the phone. It is a choice that really takes a lot of urgency from the heist and the entire situation.
This is not something that we have seen before. For example, in Money Heist, the Netflix series, we see the character of the Professor orchestrating the heist while talking with the people inside the bank in real time, all at once. There are plot reasons why Maddie cannot do this, but receiving individual calls from each of the robbers and having really extensive discussions with them over petty things is frustrating and makes the other characters look bad. You can definitely feel a level of unprofessionalism from the other members of the team. This could be intentional, but it is still frustrating.
Visually, the movie doesn’t really come across as something worth watching, the budget is minimal, and Ives doesn’t seem to take advantage of the place as much as he can. It isn’t easy, the entire movie takes place in one rundown garage, but maybe the style of cinematography chosen for the movie wasn’t the right one when you really have nothing to show. The camera moves around a lot, but the view stays the same. It does create another sense of suspense and frustration at wanting to get out of that place and see other places.
Solid Rock Trust is a low-budget effort that knew it had to focus on other things to stand out. In this case, a really great main character, played by a great performer. The script has some frustrating bits that feel more like filler than anything else, but at the end of the day, the story is interesting enough to keep you watching for 90 minutes. It is a good effort in trying to make something different with the genre, and this could be an idea that could be improved with further iterations until it reaches the state it should be in.