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movie reviewmovie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: Entrapment

Starring: Sean Connery, Catherine Zeta-Jones
Director: Jon Amiel
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 105 Minutes
Release Date: April 1999
Genres: Action, Romance, Thriller

*Also starring: Ving Rhames, Will Patton, Maury Chaykin, Kevin McNally, Terry O'Neill, David Yip

Review by Walter Frith
2½ stars out of 4

Warning: this review contains indirect spoilers!

As far as I'm concerned, with the exception of 'The Hunt for Red October', the 90's have been a bust for Sean Connery. Consider, if you will, films like 'Medicine Man', 'Highlander II: The Quickening', 'First Knight' and last year's disastrous 'The Avengers'. His obvious hand at calling a lot of the shots on the sets of his movies are a mistake. Connery is the kind of movie star/actor who is better at leaving the creative end to directors and writers because Connery's only real talent seems to be his on screen presence. This is confirmed by his obvious capabilities that won him the Oscar in 1987 for 'The Untouchables'. And, Connery, as we all know, is the best James Bond there ever has been and/or ever will be.

Connery, presumably in his last film of the 90's, has redeemed himself with 'Entrapment'. This film is perhaps one of the cleverest and most shifty eyed and perceptive films of the year and probably has one of the best twists since 1995's 'The Usual Suspects'. Not as multi-layered as that film was, 'Entrapment' has an even tempo with little break away moments of wit that make it seem more entertaining than it really is in many scenes. Its ability to compensate for some of its slow spots and weaknesses are the film's greatest asset.

In 'Entrapment', Connery plays a seasoned veteran of crime. A grand old master of burglary who is still in the game not because he needs the money but because he enjoys it. He is not a small time crook. He lives in a castle in the British Isles that looks like it costs several million dollars. He has pampered his living quarters with many posh and upscale artifacts and is a man of culture. An insurance company in New York City is investigating what they believe is his latest theft --- the disappearance of a rare painting. A former FBI man (Will Patton) is now the head investigator for the insurance firm whose top go getter (Catharine Zeta Jones), is excellent as one of his investigative hot shots and believes she can get close to Connery, plan a job with him and turn him in as part of a sting operation. The audience is thrown into a frenzy of guessing games when it appears that Jones is playing all sides to her advantage in order to walk away with all of the loot herself.

Director Jon Amiel ('Sommersby', 'Copycat', 'The Man Who Knew Too Little') structures the film like a game of chess. He wraps the film in a riddle and the film is not predictable which is its real pay off. You'll wander through 'Entrapment' finding huge plot holes that are large enough to drive NATO's entire force through but the holes will all be closed as the film hits its final mark. Ron Bass and Michael Hertzberg, originators of the film's story do a good job of creating a plot that doesn't drown in its own premise. This is not an action film. Many of the scenes are very much just a two character story with direct interaction between its two leads. It reminded me in many ways of 1972's 'Sleuth', where Laurence Olivier and Michael Caine tried to outwit each other. Will Patton's character as Jones' boss is also a tepid one although he is on screen very little. Shades of Scott Glenn's character from 'The Silence of the Lambs' are the best way to describes Patton's contribution to the film.

One problem I had with the film were the lazy performances encompassed within its story. Connery and Jones seem very relaxed at times and Jones doesn't have even half of the zest that she possessed in 1998's 'The Mask of Zorro'. Ving Rhames, one of the best character actors of his generation and who is often under used in his films, actually steals some of the scenes he's in with Connery as a man whose loyalties are not quite understood until the film's final moments.

'Entrapment' has a genuine look to it that shows the creative forces were aiming to please all the way and while it's obvious that the film under went several re-writes before getting it right, the performances could have used a little spice and keep it from being a good film but one that is not that memorable.

OUT OF 5 > * * * 1/2

Visit FILM FOLLOW-UP by Walter Frith

* * * * * - a must see * * * * 1/2 - don't miss it * * * * - an excellent film * * * 1/2 - a marginal recommendation * * * - can't quite recommend it * * 1/2 - don't recommend it * * - avoid it * 1/2 - avoid it seriously * - avoid it AT ALL COSTS 1/2 - see it at your own risk zero - may be hazardous to your health

Copyright 2000 Walter Frith

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