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Entrapment   Starring: Sean Connery

  Genre: Action

  Running Time: 112 Minutes

  Rating: Rated PG-13 for language/violence.

  Video Release: 23 November 1999

  Tagline: "The trap is set."

If I were preparing a review for best trailer by a savvy marketing crew, then Entrapment would, hands down, get the gold. But... this isn't, so... it doesn't.

Probably every red-blooded American boy remembers the trailer. The sleek Catherine Zeta-Jones stretching and dipping her way through a laser beam web -- like a cat -- maneuvering up and down, rolling her shoulders, arching her back as she circumvents the maze. Powerful. Sexual. Enticing. While it makes a good "preview," the film as a whole reminded me of the old woman from the Wendy’s commercials of the 80’s: "Where’s the beef?" While Entrapment delivers lots of eye candy, it is the story (the beef) which falls hopelessly by the wayside.

Robert "Mac" MacDougal (Sean Connery) is a legendary art thief who is showing no signs of slowing down in his old age. At his feet is Virginia "Gin" Baker (Catherine Zeta-Jones), an insurance company worker who sets out in pursuit of MacDougal after a Rembrandt painting is stolen in a spectacular skyscraper theft. Her plan is to lure MacDougal into another job and then turn him over to the authorities...or, we are led to believe. Rounding out the cast is Gin’s boss Hector Cruz (Will Patton), Mac’s sidekick Thibadeaux (Ving Rhames) and Conrad Greene (Maury Chaykin).

The film’s opening sequence is a piece of art in itself. Filmed by cinematographer Phil Meheux, the NYC night skyline is a mirage of glossy reflecting skyscrapers making the Big Apple appear near mythical, seducing you into the criminal act that follows. The next sequence occurs seventy flights up with an array of gizmoeds and gadgets giving us the feel that Connery is back as Bond.

But this is no "Bond" picture. While the action starts off fast, it slows down considerably as we enter a whirlwind of "Who’s on First? What's on Second?" In an attempt to outsmart the audience, the filmmakers throw at us twist after twist resulting in a state of puzzling detachment. This constant redirection doesn't allow us to establish any loyalties with the film's characters and any enthusiasm is quickly whisked away as the carpet is pulled out under our feet time after time.

Another problem with the film is the antagonist or (more precisely) lack of. There isn't really any true villain whom the audience can root against and while one wants to cheer on Mac and Gin, it’s difficult for the element of trust is constantly shaken. The word ‘trust’ is key here as Mac states to Gin: "Trust is crucial to a successful job." Perhaps the filmmakers should have taken his advice.

The film’s climax is almost anti-climatic as the majority of the story focuses on the first of two heists (the one where Jones works the maze) in which they plan to steal a valuable Chinese mask. The second job entails a multi-billion dollar bank robbery (shot spectacularly around Kuala Lumpur’s Petronas Twin Towers) that seemed a bit forced. Mac states (when Gin told him this new job was to be done tomorrow): " needs more time." While the suspenseful editing manages to make the scene generate some of the best excitement in the movie, it's more icing than cake.

There are several "technical" problems with Entrapment as well, from poor ADR editing to spotty cliff-hanging action sequences to much needed homework on Y2K problems. The gadgets used throughout the film are quite interesting but when the gadgets are more memorable than the storyline or characters, there usually is a problem.

With the ever dapper Connery and luscious Zeta-Jones, the film has a definite slickness (like many Hollywood blockbusters) but unfortunately too slick for its own good. Any hints of characterization or storyline are wiped away, like so much dust on a shiny new floor, leaving only a shallow product.

While there are many products out there with more glitz than substance, Entrapment is visually well done, features some cool stunts and can be a pleasant diversion. Give it a "3."

© Terrence J. Brady

The ratings for "Pan & Scan" are broken down into a simple 1-5 scale as follows: 5 = "Forget renting it - BUY IT!"; 4 = "Definite Must Rent"; 3 = "Coin Toss" (Rent it OR wait for cable); 2 = "Wait For Cable"; 1 = "Ignore It!" (Even when it's on network TV).