t's probably saying a lot that, about 2/3rds of the way
through "Trapped", I was starting to tinker with the notion that I
wouldn't be completely against the idea of sexual predator/sadistic kidnapper
Kevin Bacon winning. This little idle thought came about after sitting through
Greg Iles' ridiculously thickheaded and unbelievably, well, unbelievable
screenplay. Let's just say that if I was kidnapped by 3 psychos and my life
depended on a call every 30 minutes, and I had Charlize Theron's Karen and
Stuart Townsend's Will as my parents, I would kiss my life goodbye.
Another big problem with "Trapped" is this:
despite the fact that Kevin Bacon keeps counting the number of times he's
performed a successful kidnap-for-money operation, the movie almost immediately
undercuts his boasts. Since we can immediately see that things are not going as
planned, it's no longer a question of how long before Bacon's house of cards
tumbles, but how much the audience is expected to swallow before they realize
even a low-life criminal wouldn't stand this much abuse from the people he's
supposed to be victimizing. Not for even a brief minute do we believe Bacon will
get away with it.
Director Luis Mandoki blows the suspense so early that I
was surprised any competent filmmaker wouldn't see that this was a bad idea.
Actually, by the 30-minute mark, after the kidnapping had been effect for the
last 25 minutes, I kept wondering why Joe didn't just shoot Karen and Will and
move on to a more cooperative couple. Toward the end, perhaps realizing that his
screenplay was full of gaping holes, Iles throws in a subplot about a dead child
to try to convince us that there is a reason Bacon didn't kill Karen and Will
even after Karen nearly slit him open from scrotum to neck. It doesn't work,
mostly because no one with an inkling of common sense would allow such combative
"victims" to live for so long.
Kevin Bacon ("Hollow Man"), rumored to have been
in every movie since the dawn of time, is perfectly at home as the villainous
Joe. Even though the screenplay seems unable to decide if Joe is smart or just
too dumb to realize that he's dumb as a rock, Bacon still sells the sadistic
role with aplomb. Courtney Love, last seen trying to convince the world that
she's a musician, plays yet another junkie/air head/skank role. Gee, Courtney,
get pigeonholed much? Pruitt Taylor Vince plays Marvin, the third part of the
criminal trio, whose status as a possible child molester should have been played
up more for suspense.
Charlize Theron, whose character is apparently Wonder Woman
disguised as a housewife/interior designer, still hasn't convinced me that she
can really act. Her portrayal of the feisty wife is one-note and some of her
actions, like the actions of everyone in the film, defy logic. Stuart Townsend
the Damned") is much too young for the role, especially since everyone
keeps referring to him as if he was a man in his '50s, when he looks barely in
his '30s, if that. His character also seems determined to get his kidnapped
Luis Mandoki's action scenes are sometimes too choppy, and
for some reason the director uses handheld cameras to give that chaotic,
"shaky" documentary feel. The less said about Iles' screenplay the
better. The ending sequence, which takes place on a stretch of highway and
involves a plane, is a perfect ending. Why? Because it perfectly showcases just
how silly and logic-defying the whole movie is.
The thing is, I don't think "Trapped" is an
especially bad film. I just think it doesn't make a lick of sense. And nothing
gets my goat more than a movie that doesn't make sense, but keeps telling me
that it does. "Trapped" is ultimately unsatisfying, which is too bad
because with some more brains, it could have proved to be a terrific suspense
thriller. But alas, it's just a really, really dumb movie that expects the
audience to swallow too much.