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Entrapment, an end-of-the-millenium thriller
starring Sean Connery and Catherine Zeta-Jones, promises to be a different kind of action
movie - one that is character driven instead of plot driven. The only problem with it is
that it doesnt have any characters.
Connery plays Robert
"Mac" MacDougal, reputedly the worlds greatest art thief. Mac differs from
other master art thieves in that he has a genuine appreciation for the paintings that he
steals. The authorities cant even find - much less catch - this ascetic will o
the wisp. Zeta-Jones plays insurance investigator Virginia "Gin" Baker, who
convinces her boss to let her lay a trap for Mac. Posing as a fellow art thief, Gin
entices Mac into joining forces with her in the theft of a priceless Chinese mask. Mac
whisks her away to his Fortress of Solitude, a stunning castle dotted with Modiglianis
from Macs past heists, where the two plan and rehearse their scheme.
about Gins true motives arise: is she really trying to bust Mac or has she gone over
to the other side? Just as inevitably, Mac and Gin are drawn to each other, but when Gin
finally verbalizes the vibe that is hanging in the air between them, Mac lays down
"The Rule": professionals do not get involved with each other - the job is
everything. It is at this point that Entrapment runs into real trouble. When Gin
asks Mac why The Rule has to run their relationship, Mac refuses to tell her - or us. Yet
much of the movie is given over to close-ups of an anguished Mac as sensitive piano music
tinkles in the background. This failure to explain, even in part, Macs solitary
lifestyle keeps him from becoming anything more than a screenwriters conceit, as if
his mere Sean Connery-ness can substitute for a character.
Once the mask is in
their possession, the two turn their sights to really big game, a plan to break into the
Kuala Lumpur offices of an organization that oversees international trade and, at the
stroke of midnight on New Years Eve 1999, take advantage of the computers Y2K
conversion routine to download $8 billion into a private account. As their plans proceed,
Gins character walks a tightrope that keeps Mac, her suspicious supervisor, and
presumably some members of the audience guessing where her sympathies lie. The artificial
double-crosses and plot twists pile up until the entire movie cancels itself out, and the
audience is forced to seek diversion in the shots of Malaysian street life or
Zeta-Jones ill-fitting trench coat.
Zeta-Jones has a
real problem on her hands. She is sharing the screen with one of the most charismatic
stars in recent cinema history. When Connery turns on that Zen-master shtick that
hes been polishing for twenty years, Zeta-Jones comes across like a bantamweight
whos been forced into the ring with Evander Holyfield. For once, the age difference
between two stars is unbelievable not because the young woman would never want a man
thirty years her senior, but because the young woman is so uninteresting that no
experienced older man could stand to be around her very long.
Entrapment aspires to
something higher than most current action movies, but it remains a light labor to sit
through. The lack of any real wit - and wit is what makes good heist movies such great
entertainment - has Entrapment trapped in a rut.
- Tom Block