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Entrapment (1999)

by on 2010/12/27

Some people are really into Crank flicks.  I can be one of them on occasion but, when I’m not in the mood to see people shot in half, set to a speed metal score, with no edit exceeding one second . . . well then it’s time to reach for a movie like Entrapment.

A thinking person’s action movie, it sits comfortably on the conceptual shelf somewhere between The Thomas Crown Affair and The Saint.  A heist, a caper, a cat and mouse game, whatever you call it, it’s terrifically junky brain food fun.

As we are reminded periodically by the subtitles, the time is mere days “to Millennium”.  Beginning in New York City and moving through Britain to Kuala Lumpur, Entrapment tells the tale of Virginia “Gin” Baker (Catherine Zeta-Jones).  She’s an insurance investigator on the trail of notorious art thief Robert “Mac” MacDougal (Sean Connery).

Nobody believes she has the right suspect, so it’s up to her to find proof.  It’s a race against time, however, because on New Year’s Eve between 1999 and 2000, an eight billion dollar cache in Kuala Lumpur becomes vulnerable through a timing glitch.

At sixty years of age, Mac demonstrates his capacity for survival, and we share in his intricate, meticulous process.  He plans, he practices, and — when there are surprises, because “there are always surprises” — he improvises.  He’s a master in strategy and tactics, both conventional and lateral.

But could he be weakening?  If the years don’t do him in, a weakness for his pursuer might.  Gin disrupts his best laid plans, accelerates his schedule, and even goes as far as trying to seduce him.

Or maybe the entire plot is none of the above.  Entrapment is an affair where the story itself is not above being taken, moved, changed, and replaced.  Layer upon layer of twists and double-crosses mark its nerve-wracking evolution.  Every new character in this impressive cast — including Whale Music’s Maury Chaykin and Mission Impossible’s Ving Rhames — serves to change the game.

Sure I could mine its production peaks:  the Zeta-Jones-centric photography, the revolving fade-cut edits, and a Christopher Young score which melds Eric Serra’s GoldenEye with Angelo Badalamenti’s The Beach.  However, in the midst of the whole experience, I doubt you’ll be concerned with such distractions.

It’s fast, it’s fun, and it’s like That Damned Puzzle Game you wrestle with every once in a while.  You’ll worry it to bits, triumph and walk away, returning to start from scratch in another year.  Entrapment is just such a compulsion, one I’ll be back for.

* * * *

Rated PG-13 for lanugage, mild nudity, and mild violence

113 minutes

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