Entrapment (1999)

D: Jon Amiel
S: Sean Connery, Catherine Zeta-Jones

If any proof were needed that Catherine Zeta-Jones has attractive buttocks, then Entrapment provides it. This half-baked, overdressed caper movie has little other obvious point other than to showcase its female star in a variety of figure-hugging outfits, especially in situations where she performs, displays, or otherwise ensures that the audience is given ample opportunity to examine her curves. Okay, so she is meant to be an undercover insurance investigator posing as a cat burglar. Yes it is part of her character's plan to ensnare master thief Sean Connery with the promise of a romantic liaison with the younger beauty. Still though, it is difficult to keep a straight face as director Jon Amiel lavishes the kind of attention upon her body that Hitchcock and Von Sternberg used to give to their leading ladies' faces. This is almost as fetishistic a representation of the female form as that seen in 1998's The Avengers or 1997's Batman and Robin, and though the film itself is not as bad as these (not much could be), it certainly doesn't ask much of its audience other than to stare open-mouthedly at its heroine while she dances, slinks, leaps and otherwise moves about with little real narrative purpose simply in the name of spectacle. As such it is probably best suited to twelve year old boys, who will firstly find themselves hypnotised by all of this and secondly, having not seen examples of this genre in the 1960s and 70s, may find the other on screen antics relatively fresh.

There is a plot in there, such as it is (co-scripted by Ron Bass of My Best Friend's Wedding), and it throws up plenty of (predictable) twists and some stock characters. The film is really just a succession of set pieces though, with the familiar trappings of this nearly-dead genre (it's been a long, long time since Connery starred in The Anderson Tapes, and even since Hudson Hawk pulled the trigger which left it fatally wounded, to receive the coup de grâce from The Real McCoy), including an obsession with gadgets, elaborate security systems and implausible acrobatics in cool black outfits. It has a certain slickness to it thanks to Amiel (Sommersby), and it provides occasional amusement (it is depressingly juvenile though), but the narrative is loose and flabby. Without the professionalism of Connery and the enthusiasm of Jones, it would probably prove unwatchable. The former more or less sleepwalks through his part. He is capable enough a performer to hold the screen even when he's given nothing to work with, and his natural charisma has bolstered many a bad movie in recent years (Medicine Man, The Rock). The latter acquits herself with the demeanour of an equally professional performer, but if the truth be told she does little enough to warrant the kind of apologetic admiration she has been receiving for the film. It is certainly a come-down after The Mask of Zorro, and here her 'feistiness' is as contrived and artificial as the rest of the proceedings, and equally ineffective.

As high-gloss, low-IQ summertime pulp, it rates somewhere in between fun and routine. Though it is mercifully above the level of the cynical dross of the past two summers, this is only because its leads seem genuinely able to distinguish between entertaining their fans and going through the motions. As such, it is most likely to appeal to those who admire them. Casual viewers will be quickly bored and leave the theatre wondering what else is playing to take away the empty feeling it leaves.

Review by Harvey O'Brien copyright 1999.