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TREASURE-HUNTING `TRESPASS’ IS FAST-PACED, EFFICIENT THRILLER

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TRESPASS - * * 1/2 - Bill Paxton, Ice T, William Sadler, Ice Cube; rated R (violence, profanity, drugs); Cineplex Odeon Broadway Centre, Holladay Center, Midvalley and South Towne Center Cinemas.

Aspiring to be something of a '90s urban twist on John Huston's "The Treasure of the Sierra Madre," with elements of John Ford's "Rio Bravo" thrown in, the new thriller "Trespass" is surprisingly well made.Claustrophobic, taut and efficient, like a streamlined car designed to simply get you there, "Trespass" wastes no time in setting up its premise - and then just barrels along with an in-your-face attitude and plenty of tightly wound tension.

The premise is quickly set up under the opening credits: First we see a gang of thugs watching a video that shows one of their number being bumped off by a rival in East St. Louis, Ill. Then the action rapidly shifts to Arkansas, where a pair of firemen (nice guy Bill Paxton and greedy William Sad-ler) unexpectedly find themselves in possession of a treasure map.

While putting out a fire, they are accosted by a guilt-ridden man who passes along the information. It seems that a cache of solid-gold religious artifacts, stolen from a church some 50 years earlier, is hidden somewhere in a building located in East St. Louis.

After the credits, Paxton and Sadler drive there to check it out. What they find is a commentary on urban blight. The building rests in the midst of a remote, decaying industrial park. The firemen hide their car, move into the building and start tearing the place apart.

Naturally, things do not go well. First they encounter an old homeless man (Art Evans), whom they are forced to bind and gag. Then, the aforementioned thugs arrive on the scene, led by kingpin Ice T.

When Paxton witnesses a killing, he becomes a target. But quick-thinking Sadler grabs Ice T's younger brother (De'Voreaux White), a squealing junkie, as a hostage.

It's a no-win standoff, of course, as they fend off Ice T's gang. And it doesn't help that Sadler still has gold fever and wants to find that treasure.

If that's not enough, these yuppie mobsters (a funny running gag has Ice T using a cellular phone to communicate with his gang) have to deal with more than a little dissension in the ranks, led by Ice Cube.

Most of the film is made up of cat-and-mouse antics that lead to a conclusion that is not unexpected but still manages to satisfy.

All of the actors here are excellent, especially Paxton, Ice T, Sadler and Evans. But since this is an action film, the emphasis is on violence and suspense. Unfortunately, the many opportunities for character development and the exploration of race relations quickly fall by the wayside.

In fact, it's fair to say that as written by Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale (the "Back to the Future" films) and directed by Walter Hill (the "48HRS." films), "Trespass" settles for being an efficient thriller with no pretensions.

But on its own modest level, it certainly succeeds.

"Trespass" is rated R for the expected violence and profanity, with some drug abuse.