Weekly Wire
Metro Pulse To Catch a Guru

Connery and Zeta-Jones entrap, more or less.

By Zak Weisfeld

MAY 10, 1999:  The life of a thief is a lonely one—all castles, tailored jackets, and jet-setting—and not a single, nubile young starlet to love and cherish and trust and call one's own. This, in essence, is Sean Connery's dilemma in the latest version of Hitchcock's To Catch a ThiefEntrapment.

In Entrapment, Connery plays Robert Macdougal: master thief. Mac, as he's known in international insurance circles, is not the kind of guy you find with his face blurred out on Cops. No, Mac is the kind of thief who is actually a status symbol. To be robbed by him implies both great wealth and great taste—not to mention technological sophistication. In fact, having your well-insured Rembrandt lifted by Mac is far more glamorous than owning such a drab piece of canvas in the first place.

Connery is fairly game as Mac, though you know you're getting old when your character is billed as 60 and the role still requires a toupée and a vigorous regimen of alpha-hydroxy treatments to make you look younger. Still, Connery's gruff Scottish charm and well-honed chops carry him easily through the undemanding script.

The trouble begins when he meets Catherine Zeta-Jones, who plays the comely insurance agent Gin Baker. By now, of course, the invention of Viagra has made plausible such unsettling unions as Jack Nicholson and Helen Hunt, but Entrapment may be taking the case too far. Zeta-Jones isn't just young enough to be Connery's daughter, she's young enough to have been taught by his daughter in sixth grade social studies. And Connery, perhaps to his credit, has never been able to summon the kind of feral lust that Nicholson seems all too ready to release. Connery's affection for Zeta-Jones is never overpowering—it seems paternal, even grandfatherly. Which is pleasant, in a way, but leaves the plot wanting in the love department.

Strangely, Zeta-Jones helps cool things down even further. There's no arguing that she is a beautiful woman, even a lively and intelligent one. And having watched her slither through a laser security system in a black rubber suit, I can also attest to her strength and athleticism. Still, no one would mistake her for the best actress of her generation. In The Mask of Zorro, Zeta-Jones was well-cast—she has a sense of fun and a good comic touch. What she's lacking is a sense of drama. Pouting seems to be her deepest, most heartrending emotion. In one particular scene, Connery threatens to drown Zeta-Jones for double-crossing him. This is a critical moment, a turning point for the entire film, he's got her by the hair, she pulls a knife, and the scene has about as much tension as Must See TV.

Together, Zeta-Jones and Connery make Entrapment's already light screenplay practically Zima-y. The script, by Ronald Bass and Michael Hertzberg, is the weakest part of the film. Beyond its staid dialogue, the writing particularly suffers from its obvious reliance on action movie tag lines. The worst example of this is the trailer's, "First we try, then we trust." Halfway through the film I had heard the line so often I began to think I was watching an elaborate commercial for a couples' counseling group or an aggressive online brokerage firm.

Apparently, director Jon Amiel finds this quite acceptable. There are moments when Amiel does seem to get engaged with the film—especially the aforementioned slithering scene—but for the most part he seems determined to avoid intensity at all costs. It is as though he has taken an oath to avoid conveying the sense that anything in Entrapment really matters.

Eventually, this sense of distance—that I was just watching a movie—became rather pleasant. Entrapment is so good-natured that it more closely resembles its charming ancestors, like the aforementioned Hitchcock/Cary Grant vehicle,than any movie released in the '90s. There are no real bad guys, no major explosions and, perhaps most amazing of all, no one dies. Entrapment is probably the quietest, least violent thriller to hit the big screen since the '50s. For that alone it's probably worth a trip to the theater.

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