EntrapmentEntrapment (1999)

Starring Sean Connery, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Ving Rhames, Will Patton, Maury Chaykin.
Written by William Broyles and Michael Hertzberg.
Directed by Jon Amiel.

Grade: C+

Review by Carlo Cavagna.

While not quite the action-packed, thrill-a-minute crime caper film that's been advertised, Entrapment still makes for an enjoyable two hours. Catherine Zeta-Jones is Gin Baker, a beautiful young insurance investigator who is convinced that the mysterious Robert MacDougal (Sean Connery) is responsible for a series of seemingly impossible art heists. She persuades her boss (Will Patton) to let her go undercover and worm her way into MacDougal's confidences. Although MacDougal is suspicious of Baker's offer to join forces in order to steal a priceless Chinese mask, they are soon working together. Catherine Zeta-Jones

Entrapment features stunts of the gadget-oriented variety, like the older James Bond movies. As a result, Entrapment is not a visually breathtaking film, but, in a way, that's a refreshing change of pace from the explosive special-effects of other summer fare. There's more focus on the plot. The dialogue is not polished (it contains such clunkers as Baker whining to MacDougal, "Why won't you be nice to me?"), and Zeta-Jones' dramatic skills are lacking, but for the most part Entrapment holds your attention. For a long time it's not clear what Baker's true motivations are for pursuing MacDougal, and there are a few surprises in store, followed by a fitting ending that answers all the unanswered questions and ties up all the loose ends. Unfortunately, that satisfying ending occurs about five minutes before the tacked-on, contrived, Hollywood ending.

Entrapment does require a hefty amount of suspension of disbelief. We must believe that 29-year-old Zeta-Jones is an trusted and experienced investigator and that 68-year-old Sean Connery (playing a 60-year-old character) is an intrepid and agile thief. (In a concession to the character's age, Connery does huff and puff after physical exhertions.) We must also believe that there is a cross-generational romantic spark between MacDougal and Baker. The romantic subplot should have been the worst element of the film. It should have been atrocious. However, in their handling of the romance, director Jon Ameil and the writers do a lot of things right. First, they cast Sean Connery. If there's anybody who can play a romantic lead at 68, it's him. Connery looks like he hasn't aged a day in ten years, and he still retains every bit of the magnetism on screen that he had when he was young. Second, and more importantly, Connery and Zeta-Jones do not try to play the romance straight.Sean Connery

Most movies would have either ignored the age difference between Connery and Zeta-Jones or given it only a passing mention. One character might say, "Oh, ha, I'm too old for you," and the other might respond, "Nonsense!" Six Days and Seven Nights and innumerable other films contain a scene such as this. Instead, Entrapment weaves the age difference into the fabric of the movie. MacDougal is drawn to Baker in both a fatherly way and a sexual way, and he is clearly uncomfortable experiencing both emotions at the same time. He doesn't know what to do, so he keeps himself distant. Similarly, Zeta-Jones gives Gin Baker a strong Electra complex--although composed and collected with everyone else, Baker reacts to MacDougal girlishly and craves his approval. The result is that the romantic element is far more realistic than it had any right to be. We are supposed to be rooting for Baker and MacDougal to get together--and I must reluctantly admit that I did--but Entrapment at least acknowledges that there is something inherently twisted about their attraction for one another.

I try not to let an actor's physical appearance enter into my analysis of a movie, but sometimes her appeal is so irresistible that it can affect one's perception of the film as a whole--Michelle Pfeiffer in Batman Returns is the quintessential example. Zeta-Jones is simply stunning, and director Jon Ameil takes full advantage, showing us extended footage of Zeta-Jones in a leotard doing contortions around laser beams on not one, but two, occasions. Later, in a subway station, Ameil indulges in several slow, loving pans across Zeta-Jones' face. Frankly, I would have been perfectly happy watching two hours of just that.

Review © May 1999 by AboutFilm.Com and the author.
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