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|Index||138 reviews in total|
Rating: *** out of ****
One of the more pleasant surprises of the year, Trapped stars Kevin Bacon as a clever kidnapper who gets more than he bargained for when he and his partners (Courtney Love and Pruit Taylor Vance) hold a rich couple's (Charlize Theron and Stuart Townsend) daughter for ransom. Director Luis Mandoki knows how to pile on the tension to this chilling premise, delivering genuine suspense and thrills every minute without losing momentum. The story even holds a few decent surprises that caught me slightly off-guard, if not necessarily shocked.
As well-tuned as the direction was, what impressed me the most were the performances. The central story focuses on Theron and Bacon, and both make for one of the more effective protagonist/antagonist duos in recent memory. Dakota Fanning also shines as the kidnapped daughter; this is one of the best performances from a child actor all year (the other is from Fanning herself in the miniseries Taken). Stuart Townsend and Courtney Love aren't as effective as Theron and Bacon, but come through with solid performances.
Trapped is still a very flawed movie, considering the script is hardly original and the subject matter itself is a little unsavory and disturbing. The tit-for-tat matches between kidnapper and hostage can get a little repetitive, but the fact that it revolves around three pairings does add more tension to the proceedings. Still, the movie nicely builds to its thrilling conclusion, a climactic sequence that is a bit overdone but nonetheless exciting. It's a pity Trapped was ignored at the box office, since it's easily far superior to recent similarly plotted kidnapped thrillers such as Don't Say a Word or Along Came a Spider.
The storyline of "Trapped" is broken down into three parts, which are set in three different locations (the house, the cabin in the woods, the hotel room). The first two work better, thanks to the smashing performances of Kevin Bacon and the perpetually underrated Charlize Theron, and the outstanding one by Pruitt Taylor Vince (I'm talking about the kind of performance that, in a higher-profile film, would surely have gotten him an Academy Award nomination). The third part is not as good, because Courtney Love is rather poor in her role and Stuart Townsend is too young and too bland for his. The film never succeeds at being anything more than a formulaic kidnapping thriller, but the director, Luis Mandoki, knows how to handle the formula and which buttons to push to keep it reasonably taut....until the overblown climax. (**1/2)
"Trapped", the top-of-the-heap video release for this week, tells of a a well to do couple whose daughter is kidnapped by a man who wants more than just money. What begins as a stylish thriller with good psychodramatic potential abandons the mind games at the half way point, trades nuances for sledge hammer blows, and disintegrates in a ball of Hollywoodish convoluted anything-for-the-thrill fire. Nonetheless, "Trapped" is probably worth a look for those who aren't too analytical and just want some no brainer excesses. (B-)
Average. The movie is full of clichés and most of all, the ending is
totally unrealistic and overblown.
Otherwise, if they had stuck to the basic plot, this could have been a nice little thriller, especially because on average, the acting was pretty good (especially Charlize Theron and Kevin Bacon). As usual, for some reason Hollywood producers (or Directors) feel it necessary to cram movies with tons of unnecessary subplots most of the time, as well as add minutes of ridiculous 'action scenes' which usually make the films look unreal and unbelievable to the audience. Do they really think the average moviegoer is a moron? In this case, the ending definitely ruined what could have been a good thriller...
Love the beginning. The premise of the movie is set up beautifully, tightly, but a garbled ending with too many plot lines begun in the last third of the movie dooms the project. It dissipates interest when a director arbitrarily introduces motives that had not been foreshadowed. Competent actors in what is eventually a lifeless vehicle, despite the chase, collisions, smoke and noise.
Stupid criminals meet Wonder Woman and Steven Seagal, who are in disguised as a mild mannered interior designer and doctor, respectively. While the criminals have their daughter locked away in a cabin with orders to kill her if they don't call every 30 minutes, our hero wife and husband does everything in their power to get the poor little girl killed. This includes fighting the criminals at every single turn. I mean, geez, if your daughter was kidnapped, would you really be this DIFFICULT? The movie tries to throw a curveball with a superfluous subplot, supposedly to "explain" why the husband and wife are so combative to their daughter's detriment, but it reeks of stupid writing anyhow. Seeing how everyone has reacted, I was tempted to root for the sexual deviant played by Kevin Bacon. How bad is that?
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I sometimes wonder if the actors who agree to appear in movies featuring
Kevin Bacon do so because they have a secret desire to become a primary
in that ever-popular parlor game known as Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, a
destined to assure them of at least some chance at screenland immortality.
The actors co-starring with him in `Trapped' - an aptly named film that is
little more than a 99-minute wallow in pointless, unadulterated sadism -
include Charlize Theron, Courtney Love and Stuart Townsend, not exactly
no-name nobodies but not quite Hollywood A-list players either. But
your soul for eternal fame often comes with a hefty price tag, and I have
the rather sneaking suspicion that these latter-day Mephistopheles' would
just as happy if we forgot that they were ever associated with this
perfectly dreadful, would-be thriller - Kevin Bacon and all. Even a
at cinematic immortality can't be worth appearing in a movie this awful.
Is there a more sensitive subject these days than child endangerment and kidnapping? And can any filmmaker, daring or foolish enough to take it on, really do so without calling into question his own personal aims and motives? Do we really want to see traumatized children torn away from their parents or threatened with strangulation all in the guise of `popular entertainment'? It has been done successfully in the past, of course. One of the greatest thrillers of all time - the 1964 British film `Séance on a Wet Afternoon' - used the subject of child abduction as the source for its drama, but that film was a work of art, a poignant, psychologically compelling study of a woman on the verge of insanity. It takes a fine sensibility and a steady hand to keep a touchy issue like child endangerment from turning into an exercise in cheap exploitation, and, I'm sorry to say, neither of these qualities appears with much abundance in `Trapped,' the latest variation on the theme. Indeed, `Trapped' is about as far from being a work of art as it is possible for a film to get.
Bacon plays the leader of a trio of child kidnappers whose modus operandi is to target wealthy couples, hold their children for ransom, then release them when the parents have coughed up the demanded sums of money. The threesome claims to have `successfully' pulled off this little trick four times already - in each case ending with the parents being reunited with their children, no questions asked. The fifth and current abduction involves little Abby Jennings, the young daughter of Will and Karen Jennings, he a high-priced, seemingly world-renowned anesthesiologist, and she a doting mother with a few self-defense tricks up her sleeve (or in her panties to be more exact). And as if being forced to watch this poor little girl being threatened by a bunch of third-rate bullies weren't bad enough, we also have to witness her gasping for breath in any number of asthma attacks brought on by the stress of the experience. Well, what with `Signs' earlier and now this film, I guess asthma has become the childhood ailment of choice this movie season.
All throughout the film we keep being told how brilliant these kidnappers are supposed to be - yet they seem to do everything in their power to afford their victims ample opportunity to turn the tables on them. One, Bacon's wife, conveniently falls asleep so that the good doctor can casually remove all the bullets from her gun; another, Bacon's dull-witted, oafish cousin, a-kidnapper-with-a-heart-of-gold, goes into the kitchen to warm up some soup so that the unrestrained little girl can walk out the front door, cell phone in hand, to look for help; even Bacon, the `brains' of the outfit, allows Mrs. Jennings to go unaccompanied into the bathroom where she proceeds to rummage through the medicine cabinet for what seems like ten minutes until she finds a scalpel which she then proceeds to hold to his private parts after he has made himself thoroughly vulnerable by completely disrobing in anticipation of getting a little nooky on the side. One wonders how these world-class bumblers ever managed to pull off even one successful kidnapping, let alone four. The film even includes that oldest of all kidnap-scenario clichés - the obligatory nosey neighbor who drops by at the most inopportune moment and has to be fobbed off by the desperate victim without arousing suspicion. And, of course, we must have Ms. Theron strip down to her undies (and Mr. Bacon strip down to his birthday suit) just to up the sleaze quotient a bit.
The film is not only ugly on a moral level, but on a visual level as well. The cinematography by Frederick Elmes and Piotr Sobocinski is drab, mundane and colorless, and director Luis Mandoki's `style' consists mainly of having the camera jump up and down wildly whenever a character gets excited or the story threatens to undermine the audience's attention span. The finale involves a massive multi-vehicle pile up on an Oregon freeway that is as ludicrous as it is unconvincing.
`Trapped' pretty much says it all - for the actors, the filmmakers and, above all, the audience.
I hadn't even heard of this movie and was surprised to find not one or two
but 5 great actors in this movie. And I can see why. This is a smart
thriller about a kidnapping. This sort of starts off as a typical Hollywood
blockbuster and it certainly ends like one but the story and the way it
unfolds is very good.
This was a strong script with beautiful cinematography (again, in Vancouver), great acting. Theron proves here once more that she is a strong actress with much skill and much more potential. To boot, this has a really great action sequence near the end. A good, entertaining movie, this is a definite watch.
It's unfortunate that Columbia/Sony is not pushing this movie -- there's
some convincing acting here (Theron does the woman-in-jeopardy thing well;
doesn't hurt that she's easy on the eyes too!) and three different
storylines interwoven by the writer quite nicely. Some good setups and
payoffs as well (though one involving the waggling of a plane's wings is
kinda corny, but it worked). My only criticism is that some of the
is predictable (the bad guys says exactly what we expect him to say in
Courtney Love plays a white trash wench pretty well, but that's not
surprising given her vagabond background.
BOTTOMLINE: If you like thrillers, go see this on a matinee -- worth seeing on the big screen for some beautiful cinematography of the Pacific Northwest and the climax. IMHO a big step above ALONG CAME A SPIDER and HIGH CRIMES. I haven't seen Mandoki's other flicks, but I plan to rent them now. I just hope Charlize Theron chooses some more challenging dramatic roles, or her career will probably suffer for it.
Nowadays everyone talks about Charlize Theron. Her new movie "North
Country" claims she'll be nominated for the Oscar next year, and who
knows, maybe win it again. The thing is I've known her as an actress
for a long time, and have watched most of her films; but after what
"Monster" was, and after who she is now, I feel like going back and
analyzing, if she's just having luck, or if she's always been a good
With no intention of adulating her, I can declare she's always played interesting roles. Take "Mighty Joe Young", Disney's film, for example. She played the "heroine", an easy role, and I was a kid but she didn't look like the everyday heroine, she had managed to achieve a different approach. Next came joining Johnny Depp in the difficult acting journey that was "The Astronaut's wife", a movie that sucked in content but delivered in performances.
Besides being dimmed by stronger people that same year in "The Cider House Rules", 2000 was her strong year, where she left me breathless with her portrayals in "Men of honor" and "The legend of Bagger Bance"; and showed me her dark and betraying side in "The Yards" and "Reindeer Games" (with the great Gary Sinise). So in my quest of "rediscovery", I found "Trapped", one of her last movies before her Oscar-film.
The movie is very good, and so is her performance. The traumatized look she obtains in some occasions is horrifying. How her whole body moves, quietly and alert, because her character knows the danger she's in, but tries hard to be strong and intelligently fight what awaits her. Never has a woman looked so beautiful in underwear but at the same time so disgusting; because there's no pleasure in her position.
There's no pleasure at all in this movie. Karen's (Theron) daughter is kidnapped (data: she's played by Dakota Fanning two years before she was kidnapped again in "Man on Fire"; if she keeps getting kidnapped in movies she might disappear some day), and no secrets are held. We meet the man who planned the kidnapping, Joe (Kevin Bacon), his partners Marvin (Pruitt Taylor Vince in disturbing mode) and Cheryl (second-billed and unfitted Courtney Love) and their plans; including where they keep the kids, and how and when they take them back to their families.
The group has done the same kidnapping strategy four times, succeeding without being caught; Joe always makes boast of it. What the movie announces is that this time will not be perfect, because Karen is not like the other moms, her husband Will (Stuart Townsend looking as always) is not like the other dads, and more importantly, their daughter Abby is not like the other kids. After the group realizes about this miscalculation, writer Greg Iles' character development starts functioning.
I don't know if Iles ever lived it, but the environment seems so real. "How do you pick the families?", Karen asks Joe. "Well; they have to be rich, the children need to have a permitted age and the mother has to be beautiful". Eventually, Karen tries to find out why they do it, and as I said, there's no pleasure, because they don't have fun doing it.
During these scenes, a tense relationship between Karen and Joe emerges, and in terms of performance, they are nothing but moments to make clear the risky actor Kevin Bacon is, and the dedication he gives to his characters. The way he talks to her, the way he resolves the problems with a look; later (you need to pay close attention), the way he moves his hand when he drives, because he hasn't slept and can't control his pulse The story hidden behind the "why" is very strong, but when the movie decides we should learn it, there's no intention of an emotional impact, which is another remarkable screenplay detail. It is discovered so unexpectedly that there's no time to mediate about it; it wouldn't feel real. Mexican director Luis Mandoki accompanies the environment with a first scene shot in blurry blue, and then creating lots of empty shots of places that are instantly occupied by the characters Very original.
What is probably not original or mistaken is the resolution. I'm not saying it couldn't end like that; I'm just saying that because of the movie's progress, I was expecting something else. Anyway, the typical wins: but that doesn't diminish the quality of a film.
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