Directed by Jon Amiel
Cast: Sean Connery, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Will Patton, Ving Rhames,
1999 110 minutes
Rated: (for profanty and mild violence).
Reviewed by Dustin Putman, May 1, 1999.
For anyone who has caught on to my overall taste in movies, you know that, while I give everything a chance, espionage/spy/thief action pictures are definately not my cup of tea. They all seem very much the same, and I find the large majority of them either dull or crushing bores. But with that said, I liked "Entrapment," in a kinda-sorta way, thanks to the wonderful repartee of Sean Connery (in his first good film in a long time) and Catherine Zeta-Jones, who is a sparkling new talent that I have instantly fallen in love with. Sure, she's absolutely beautiful, but she also has a sneaky way with words and is able to modify her mildly underwritten character into a wholeheartedly believable, not to mention likable, creation.
Virginia "Gin" Baker (Catherine Zeta-Jones) is a New York insurance investigator who has tracked down and been following the expert art thief, Robert "Mac" MacDougal (Sean Connery). After spying on him on one occasion, she is awaken in the middle of the night by Mac, who reveals that he is one step ahead of her. Posing as a thief herself, Gin makes a proposal to him: help her steal an ancient Chinese mask worth millions. As the last days of 1999 close in, which will inevitably cause a "millenium bug" in all of the computers, Gin also forms another plan, this one with the stakes heightened: steal $8-billion from the largest and tallest bank in the world (located in Malaysia) and they will split the money, but the theft has to be done during the last ten minutes before the new year.
"Entrapment," like the similar, but in my opinion inferior, James Bond films, spans across the globe from the already-mentioned Nfrom the already-mentioned New York to Malaysia to Scotland, where Mac's castle is located. As Mac and Gin get deeper and deeper in over their heads, Mac grows suspicious of Gin's possible false identity and her motives, while Gin fears that she, through all of their bickering, might actually be falling for him. In case this subplot is unbelievable, don't worry. Although Zeta-Jones is 28-years-old and Connery is 68, this is the least to worry about when you're dealing with such a preposterous, but admittedly entertaining, story. Besides, Connery has aged very well (like Warren Beatty and Robert Redford), and so their budding romance isn't quite as much of a stretch as the downright ragged Clint Eastwood and his near-laughable womanizing character.
Although never a particular fan of Connery's (who played James Bond himself, primarily, in the '60s and '70s), he is very charismatic and enjoyable here, even when we aren't sure if his character of Mac should be trusted. Matching, and actually surpassing, his performance is Zeta-Jones, who was last seen in "The Mask of Zorro" (which I opted to skip when it was in theaters) and will be appearing in "The Haunting" this July. She has a lovely, innocent, but at the same time experienced, face that you could stare at for hours on end, and a fetching personality to play. I loved, for example, the scene in which Mac asks her if there has ever been someone she hasn't been able to seduce, and without a moment's thought and with a sly grin, replies, "no." Without Connery and Zeta-Jones, and without the fun that is had concerning the tension between them, "Entrapment" wouldn't have been nearly as successful, and it is their casting that, to me, was the most vital element in making the whole picture.
The two action set-pieces, one in which they attempt to steal the Chinese mask, and the climactic sequence in which they set out to steal billions from the bank, are stylishly and expertly crafted. Back at Mac's Scottish castle, he trains Gin to be able to slink through the invisible criss-crossing laser beams in order to get to the mask, and a great deal of suspense is stirred up in this scene. The climax, also, is breathtaking, with Mac and Gin being spotted stealing the billions and in their desperation to escape, must crawl out onto an unsteady wire seventy stories in the air, above a prestigious New Year's celebration.
When all is said and done, "Entrapment" is a fun and completely amiable precursor to the upcoming onslaught of Summer movies. There's nothing extraordinary about it, it isn't likely to stick in your mind as some of the best films do, and the plotting leaves several holes. The supporting characters are all wasted, including Ving Rhames as a friend and gadgetry-supplier of Mac's, but that was fine with me since the heart of the film belongs to the delicate and nicely-acquired relationship between Connery and Zeta-Jones. "Entrapment" isn't a particularly fulfilling experience, but it easily gets the job done.
©1999 by Dustin Putman