I've got a proposition...
"Entrapment" calls to mind the caper flicks of the Sixties, most notably "The Thomas Crown Affair", which itself has been remade and due in theaters later this summer. Unfortunately, despite the star presence of Sean Connery (presumably attempting to make up for his appearance in last year's "The Avengers") and the stunning Catherine Zeta-Jones ("The Mask of Zorro"), this latest addition to the caper genre quickly becomes mired in a ridiculous plot that fails to stand up to even the most cursory level of scrutiny.
First we try, then we trust.
Roughly two weeks before the end of the Millennium, a wily figure clad in black manages to break into a well-guarded office tower and make off with an almost priceless Rembrandt. When the news reaches the painting's insurer, the head of the investigations division, Hector Cruz (Will Patton of "Armageddon"), is convinced by top investigator Virginia Baker (Zeta-Jones) that the theft was perpetrated by Robert 'Mac' MacDougal, an aging but well-off art thief with a castle in Scotland (à la "The Thomas Crown Affair"). Unfortunately, the evidence linking Mac to the crime is circumstantial, so Virginia puts forth a proposal to trap the master thief-- she will go to London, track Mac down, and entice him to help her steal a priceless Chinese mask out of a British museum.
It was you who stole my luggage?!
I'm a thief... so sue me!
It doesn't take long for Mac to notice the fetching young woman following him around, and even though he does not trust Virginia, he is intrigued by the challenge of the heist she is proposing. Wasting little time, Mac and his new protege leave for his castle in Scotland, where they make preparations for stealing the mask, and hook up with Mac's 'business associate', Thibadeaux (Ving Rhames of "Con Air"). However, as the plot thickens, which eventually leads the two partners to Kuala Lampur on the eve of the Millennium, Virginia's loyalties are called into question when it seems that she is playing both sides, straddling the fine line between turning Mac in and lining her own pockets in the crime of the century.
You're playing both sides!
Though the premise of "Entrapment" sets up some interesting dramatic possibilities with Virginia's eventual displacement of loyalties, they end up becoming lost in the messy machinations of the film's nonsensical plot. Though the relationships between the main characters undergo many twists and turns, the startling revelations made wind up violating the film's own internal logic. Though some of the plot twists may seem clever at first glance, further examination reveals them to be illogical in the context of what had been established in the prior scenes.
This is called entrapment!
No, this is blackmail. Entrapment is what cops do to thieves.
Furthermore, tangential to the film's logical inconsistencies, there are a number of scenes that suffer from 'lazy writing syndrome', in which the scribes, Ron Bass ("What Dreams May Come") and William Broyles Jr., paint themselves into a corner plot-wise and then either change the rules or create an unrealistic set of circumstances in order to resolve the problem. This form of lazy storytelling was the most infuriating aspect of "Entrapment", since the artificial situations it created made me throw up my hands in despair on numerous occasions. These were most conspicuous in the film's not-so-tension-filled climax, in which Mac and Virginia manage to evade seemingly inept security systems and SWAT teams, and the denouement, in which the writers tried too hard to provide a happy ending.
Furthermore, unlike the star-crossed romantic fireworks that occurred between George Clooney and Jennifer Lopez in last year's "Out of Sight", the chemistry between Connery and Zeta-Jones never quite gels, which is unfortunate, since the romantic aspects could have made "Entrapment" a more interesting film. Besides the obvious age difference, the sexual tension is minimal between Mac and Virginia, and their inevitable romantic entanglement comes across as forced. This is partly due to the performances that Connery and Zeta-Jones turn in-- lackluster. Connery, while still the charismatic Scotsman, seems to be just going through the motions in this film. Zeta-Jones, while certainly an alluring actress, delivers a performance that ventures close to line-reading on numerous occasions, with nary a hint of the spunk and promise she showed in "The Mask of Zorro". In fact, Zeta-Jones' role in "Entrapment" seems purely exploitational, given the number of gratuitous shots of her curvature that pepper the film.
Overall, "Entrapment" is all sizzle and no steak. While moviegoers will certainly be drawn to the local megaplex with the Connery name and the easy-on-the-eyes Zeta-Jones, the promise of a smart and sexy techno-caper quickly rings hollow after the lights dim down. Laced with unforgivable plot holes, narrative inconsistencies, and tired performances, this otherwise lavish production creates confusion instead of suspending disbelief.