Entrapment

“Entrapment” is one of those movies that is so much fun to watch you are willing to forgive its shortcomings. The film is also a text book example of how much star chemistry can carry a film.


It doesn’t take an act of courage to give into this globe-trotting caper that features the endurable Sean Connery as an aging master thief and the dazzling Catherine Zeta-Jones as the insurance investigator hot on his trail.

I love crime caper movies, and even though “Entrapment” doesn’t rise to the level of such classics as “To Catch a Thief” and “Charade,” it emerges as grand entertainment. The film comes with a high gloss sheen and enough twists and turns to dismiss some clumsy plot points.

The first hurdle writers Ron Bass and Broyles overcome is the age gap between Zeta-Jones and Connery, who in real life is 40 years older than the 29-year old actress. Even though the writers manage to create sexual chemistry between the two characters, they never allow the relationship to develop, at least during the length of the film. That clears the way for the characters to develop a professional relationship, and that is the film’s backbone.

Even though “Entrapment” is set days before the Millennium, the film has that distinctive 1960’s look of it’s predecessors. Thanks to Phil Meheux’s sumptuous photography and Norman Garwood’s elaborate production design, it’s easy to envision the film with someone like Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn in the leading roles.

Connery is on the mark as Mac MacDougal, a notorious master thief who is the bane of Gin Baker’s (Zeta-Jones) existence. As an investigator for a high profile insurance firm, Baker has been tracking down the elusive MacDougal for years.

When a $40 million Rembrandt is stolen in a daring high rise theft, Baker seizes the opportunity to go undercover and beat MacDougal at his own game. Posing as a master thief, Baker locates MacDougal in England, but immediately has the tables turned on her when he realizes that he’s being followed.

Baker convinces MacDougal that she needs him for a job, and he warily takes her under his wing. Back at MacDougal’s out-of-the-way castle, he learns that Baker has the code for the security system at a museum showcasing ancient Chinese art. Her target is a rare gold mask that under normal circumstances would be impossible to steal.

That doesn’t stop MacDougal, who through his partner Thibadeaux (Ving Rhames, but only briefly), can deliver the most high-tech equipment on and off the market. After weeks of tedious training for the job, MacDougal and Baker make their move, and stage the daring theft.

After a lesson in trust, the two agree to team up for one final job. From that moment on, “Entrapment” kicks into high gear and doesn’t let up until the finale. There are way too many plot twists and turns to mention them here, and doing so would only ruin it for those with a real desire to see the film.

As is visible in his previous work (“Sommersby,” “Tune in Tomorrow”), director Jon Amiel knows how to mix style and substance into a strong whole. Even at its weakest, “Entrapment” is still thoroughly engaging. The director stages several spectacular stunt sequences that are truly breathtaking. One involving a high wire act between the world’s tallest buildings is a real nail- biter.

The cast in uniformly good, from Connery’s wise master thief and Zeta-Jones’ seductive yet strong investigator, to Will Patton’s smarmy supervisor who suspects that Baker is more than she pretends to be. Unfortunately, the dynamic Ving Rhames isn’t on screen long enough to make a difference even though he leaves an impression.

The only one-note performance belongs to Maury Chaykin, whose over-the-top effeminate underground broker borders on caricature. In this case, less would have been more.

I appreciate that the filmmaker’s were able to pull all of this off within the confines of a PG-13 rating. It’s nice to enjoy adult entertainment that doesn’t feel the necessity to push the envelope just to prove it’s adult entertainment. Smart dialogue, engaging performances and strong direction seem to be enough, and “Entrapment” has them all.

AN ARRESTING “ENTRAPMENT”

ENTRAPMENT

Sean Connery, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Ving Rhames, Will Patton, Maury Chaykin in a film directed by Jon Amiel. Rated PG-13. 121 Minutes.

LARSEN RATING: $6



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