The debut feature of British director Adam Smith is set in a community of Irish travellers who have established a makeshift trailer park in rural England.

The focus is the Cutler clan, led by track-suited patriarch Colby (Brendan Gleeson), who still insists the earth is flat and his grandchildren won’t benefit from a proper education. This outlaw family steal cars, rob the locals and antagonise the police, but for some reason have never been apprehended.

When ringleader and devoted family man Chad Cutler (Michael Fassbender) decides to leave the transient life behind for a better one, his da has other ideas and the ensuing conflict threatens to tear the family apart.      

Trespass Against Us evokes Guy Ritchie’s Snatch, albeit without the colourful geezers, manic energy and layer of grunge that goes with the territory. Careening from one crime spree and car chase across an open field to the next, the action scenes are well staged and the family drama grim, but it’s hard to become fully invested in this family’s fate.

That leaves Gleeson and Fassbender to deliver the goods and they don’t disappoint, despite being hindered by underwritten roles. Gleeson can play this kind of lowlife in his sleep and Fassebender, while magnetic as always, is miscast in terms of being far too dashing for the itinerant (and illiterate) rogue he’s playing.

More dysfunctional family drama than crime caper, Trespass Against Us is mild when it should be mad and works best as an actors’ showcase.

In cinemas: February 16, 2017star-3
Starring: Brendan Gleeson, Michael Fassbender, Sean Harris
Directed by: Adam Smith