Trapped (2003) Movie Review

It’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 (“Queen of 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 daughter killed.

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.

Luis Mandoki (director) / Greg Iles (screenplay)
CAST: Charlize Theron …. Karen Jennings
Courtney Love …. Cheryl Hickey
Stuart Townsend …. William Jennings
Kevin Bacon …. Joe Hickey
Pruitt Taylor Vince …. Marvin
Dakota Fanning …. Abigail Jennings

Buy Trapped on DVD