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Gilded Pleasure

By Rita Kempley
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, April 30, 1999

  Movie Critic


Entrapment
In "Entrapment," Sean Connery and Catherine Zeta-Jones are drawn to the finer things in life – and each other. (20th Century Fox)

Director:
Jon Amiel
Cast:
Sean Connery;
Catherine Zeta-Jones;
Ving Rhames;
Will Patton
Maury Chaykin
Running Time:
1 hour, 52 minutes
PG-13
Profanity, violence and drugs
By all rights, Sean Connery's creaky stud ought to be sunning in the pasture, yet 37 years after inaugurating the 007 franchise, he's still nuzzling long-necked fillies like "Entrapment" co-star Catherine Zeta-Jones. The only chemistry between these two probably comes from a bottle of Viagra.

Even the most ardent fans of the natural-born Bond are more apt to be shaken than stirred by the 68-year-old's implausible feats in this inert romantic adventure. Connery doesn't lack for swagger or savoir-faire as a dapper thief, but Granddaddy swinging from a skyscraper? Not on your life.

It's hard enough to buy such derring-do from youngsters like Keanu Reeves, much less senior citizens like Robert "Mac" MacDougal (Connery), who swims like a merman, runs like a Kenyan marathoner and melts the macadam like Robert Mitchum in "Thunder Road." Sillier still, Mac supposedly possesses more speed, stamina and smarts than Gin Baker (Zeta-Jones), the fit and resourceful 29-year-old insurance investigator who may or may not be out to catch this thief.

When a Rembrandt is swiped from a New York high-rise, Gin's employer will be out $24 million if the painting isn't recovered. Gin, who links the theft to Mac, talks boss Hector Cruz (Will Patton) into sending her to London to set a trap for him. She'll pretend to be a thief, ally herself with the debonair bandit and nab him in the act of filching a priceless Chinese mask.

Though he never quite trusts her, Mac agrees to help her steal the mask from a British museum where it is protected by a cat's cradle of laser beams and guards. The two repair to Mac's castle in Scotland, where they prepare for the complicated heist.

Though the movie is mainly a throwback to such sprightly '60s capers as "Topkapi" and "Gambit," it also draws inspiration from "Star Wars." At least, Mac brings Obi-Wan Kenobi to mind as he puts his luscious accomplice through her paces. Along with a daily two-hour swim through heavy gray chop, Gin runs around the island, trying to keep up with Mac's pace.

Later in the day, the limber, leotard-clad former gymnast repeatedly wriggles and slithers through an intricate string replica of the laser beams around the mask. Mac, an unsympathetic taskmaster, forces her to do it again and again until she can negotiate the course blindfolded. Then it's off to pinch the mask, which Gin has promised to turn over to her fence in Kuala Lumpur. Mac doesn't know it yet, but she also plans to pull off a multi-billion-dollar bank heist while the two are in the Malaysian capital.

Heretofore, Mac has turned away Gin's advances, citing his ethical code, solitary ways and advanced age. But she persists and he is increasingly drawn into the sexual sparring. Can 0068 maintain his avuncular posture? Or will he succumb to Gin's allures?

Frankly, the suspense isn't killing anybody. The screenplay by Ron Bass ("Rain Man") and William Broyles ("Apollo 13") is as prosaic as rice cakes, and despite their hidden agendas, the same can be said for secondary characters like Mac's thuggish secret accomplice (Ving Rhames) and a black-marketeering drag queen (Maury Chaykin).

Jon Amiel, who directed the superior psychological thriller "Copycat," doesn't really connect with this material. Basically, the movie is about the tools of the trade--pricey, cutting-edge gizmos that all too often steal the show from Connery and Zeta-Jones (though it's more likely to be their stunt doubles doing the dangerous duty).

"Entrapment" doesn't scrimp on action, although too much of it involves coordinating watches, peering into computer screens and clipping wires. The end product is polished, the scenery exotic and the chase scenes properly paced. Alas, the film is a love story at heart and nobody really wants to see the leads get together. Even Mac tries to convince Gin he's too old for her, but she won't be dissuaded.

Did I forget to mention that Connery was the movie's executive producer?

   
© Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company

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