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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

Entrapment (review)

Daddy Dearest

I’m not quite sure how to feel about Entrapment. On the one hand, I enjoyed it a helluva lot more than I was expecting to. On the other hand, it could have been a helluva lot better than it is.

Entrapment is your basic high-class crime caper — elegant thieves stealing artsy stuff — no liquor-store knockovers or working-class accents allowed. There’s lots of thrilling gadgetry, the now de rigueur computer hijinks with some Y2K malarkey thrown in for good measure, and the inevitable (thanks to Sean Connery‘s presence) references to James Bond.
When a $40 million Rembrandt is stolen from a ritzy New York office 16 days before the big temporal odometer rolls over, insurance agent Virginia Baker (Catherine Zeta-Jones, from The Mask of Zorro) is on the case. The seemingly impossible robbery is “classic Mac,” she tells her boss, Cruz (Will Patton, from The Postman). She’s referring to never-been-caught Robert MacDougal (Connery, from The Avengers), gentleman thief extraordinaire. Gin convinces Cruz to let her set up Mac — she’ll entice him into helping her steal a priceless ancient Chinese mask from Bedford Palace in England, then they can catch him red-handed. So she’s off to London to insinuate herself into Mac’s world. Who knew insurance could be so exciting?

This is where we start to lose track — in a good way — of who’s working for whom and who’s on whose side. The minute Patton, who’s made a career of playing wily, nasty characters, appeared onscreen, my friend leaned over and whispered, “Bad guy!” to me, but it’s hard to be sure until the end of the film. Ving Rhames (Out of Sight) wanders into the film, his character working with Mac, but is he Mac’s partner, or assistant, or boss? And where do the loyalties of Gin and Mac lie? With each other? With their criminal activities? Or somewhere else entirely? Entrapment keeps you guessing till the end.

The film looks gorgeous, from Mac’s remote private castle in the Scottish Highlands to the magnificent Blenheim Palace standing in for Bedford to the world’s tallest buildings in Kuala Lampur, site of the film’s final set piece. Zeta-Jones is, without doubt, the most luscious woman on screen today, and Connery, at close to 70, is still one of the sexiest, most charismatic men in filmdom. Rhames, one of the most underrated of actors working today, actually steals a scene from the powerful Connery.

But I’ve got mixed feelings about the relationship between Gin and Mac. The previews for the film promise sparks between Connery and Zeta-Jones, and much as my head rebels at the thought of an old man and a woman young enough to be his granddaughter gettin’ it on, my heart knows that what films like Entrapment need is romantic repartee. There’s chemistry between Zeta-Jones and Connery, but it’s more the father/daughter type — Mac’s policy of keeping anything personal from interfering with his work effectively keeps the two of them apart, as does an undercurrent of reluctance that had me wondering whether a personal revelation on Mac’s part of a more daring kind was in the offing.

It’s refreshing to see an interpersonal dynamic like Mac and Gin’s get some screentime. This just wasn’t the right movie for it. Entrapment works… mostly. But how much more exciting it would have been if the exhilarating felonious aspects of it were matched by serious sizzle between two stars you just couldn’t wait to see get together.

Ultimately, Entrapment is a decent popcorn flick — you just wish it were even more fluffy than it is.


viewed at a public multiplex screening

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