Hollywood sure seems to love its glamorous criminals. I'm sorry, but if your average thief looked as gorgeous as Catherine Zeta-Jones does in 'Entrapment,' she wouldn't be worrying about stealing diamonds, she'd be wearing them on the cover of Vogue. I know these type of fanciful caper flicks are supposed to be fantasies, but still -- why not a band of crooks with big noses, bad acne and waistlines more like Rosie O'Donnell for a change? Ah, but I digress...
The plot of 'Entrapment is pretty standard-issue heist fare. Connery stars as Robert "Mac" MacDougal, a criminal mastermind who has evaded the authorities through four decades of hi-tech thievery. Zeta-Jones portrays Virginia "Gin" Baker, the covert insurance investigator who is obsessed with finally catching Mac in the act. Of course, while posing as his partner in an elaborate heist engineered to take advantage of the hysteria surrounding Y2K, Gin finds herself attracted to Mac, leading her to question her own loyalties. And as the plot gets even more twisty, all may not be what it seems -- just who is playing whom here?
I criticize 'Entrapment' for being yet another tale of good-looking, almost super-human thieves wearing designer clothes, driving fancy cars and making crime look fabulous. But ironically enough, the problem with 'Entrapment' may also be that it is not stylish enough. Unlike say, the recent 'Ocean's Eleven' flicks or the 1999 remake of "The Thomas Crown Affair,' whose lead characters were all so dashing, sexy and debonair that I left the theater oozing with envy, I really didn't want to Zeta-Jones and Connery rip each others' clothes off and get it on. Okay, Zeta-Jones of course always looks fantastic. And I guess Connery is handsome for a guy, like, older than one of the dinos in 'Jurassic Park.' But really, isn't the idea of these two together a bit creepy? Father and daughter, that I could believe. Instead, 'Entrapment' plays like 'Harold & Maude' with thieves. Ick.
Aside from the uncomfortable kissy-faces the pair keep making at each other, the rest of 'Entrapment' works fairly well. I was kind of intrigued to see how the whole millennium caper thing would work out -- such Y2K nonsense instantly dates 'Entrapment,' but a good thriller plot is a good thriller plot, timely trappings aside. I also liked the fact that the characters don't rely too heavily on gadgets to get them out of a jam -- just their wits and charm. And t hough I can hardly remember a single other character in the movie five minutes after watching it (Will Patton is in it, as is Ving Rhames, doing his usual 'Mission: Impossible' shtick), director Jon Amiel keeps things fairly stylish, and the pace moving along. So even if I was never blown away by 'Entrapment,' I was never bored.
I made the mistake of watching this disc's theatrical trailer for 'Entrapment' before watching the movie, and my expectations immediately sank a few feet below sea level. It looked dated and fuzzy -- more akin to a film from the late '80s than the late '90s. Thankfully, the actual 1080p/MPEG-2 transfer for the movie is much, much better. No, it's not a revelation, but it is one of Fox's better Blu-ray efforts for a '90s catalog title (see my review of Connery's 'Rising Sun' for a presentation that suffers by comparison).
That said, this film can definitely be soft. Adding to the late '80s feel is the use of a good deal of hazy-filter photography. The opening shots that pan over the city skyline are quite misty, as if they had been shot through a pair of Catherine Zeta-Jones' pantyhose. The rest of the movie is somewhat sharper, but not by much. Otherwise, there is nothing remarkably unique about the source material. It's in great shape, with zero blemishes, excellent blacks and no compression issues, such as posterization or noise. Even grain is pretty much absent, which is rather unusual for a flick from 1999. And detail is better than I expected. For example, about twenty minutes into the film there is a high overhead shot of Connery training Zeta-Jones in a stone courtyard, where I could see even small indentations in the gray brick, and the shape of leaves blowing about in the breeze. Very nice indeed.
The overall look of 'Entrapment' does lessen its pop. I suspect the film never went through modern digital post-production processes, so by today's standards contrast does not have that high-key sheen that screams high-definition. There also appears to be some artificial edge enhancement to balance out the soft-filter photography. Colors are natural and smooth, but hardly intense. Even the reds -- this film really loves its red laser beams -- are not particularly striking. All in all though, 'Entrapment' is a very solid, very good-looking catalog title.
Alas, 'Entrapment's DTS HD Lossless Master Audio 5.1 surround track didn't do as much for me as its video transfer. The problem is the film's sound design. It is fine all on its own -- and a couple of heist sequences really deliver -- but it still can't match today's highly aggressive, exciting soundtracks. I did like it; I just wasn't blown away.
The film is very front-directed. Only three heist scenes benefit from lively discrete effects. Surrounds are employed pretty consistently during these sequences, not only for atmosphere and dynamic stingers, but also the score, which bleeds nicely to the rears. Fidelity is also pretty good, but only just -- low bass is decent and mid-range slightly flat. Dialogue didn't sound entirely natural, either, and I had trouble hearing some of Catherine Zeta-Jones' quieter dialogue (a bit of volume adjustment did the trick). In short, outside of a few sequences that really popped, I was never totally wowed by this soundtrack.
'Entrapment' was released twice on standard-def DVD -- first as a dreadful, bare-bones disaster, then as a much-better special edition double dip. The latter was a pretty spiffy affair, with an audio commentary, a making-of featurette, some good deleted scenes and the usual trailers and TV spots. Unfortunately, here Fox continues its lackluster support of supplemental features on its Blu-ray catalog titles, and has jettisoned most of the material. It continues to perplexe me why the studio can't just squeeze these standard-def extras on the disc. If they won't fit as is, switch to a more space-saving codec, and/or boost up the release to a BD-50 already. At a $39.95 list, Fox continues to charge more for less.
In any case, the major attraction here is the screen-specific audio commentary with director Jon Amiel. He's quite the chatty guy, with the perfect dry British voice, ans loads of production info to share. I always like tracks like this -- they make even marginal films like 'Entrapment' more enjoyable. Really, how can you go wrong with a story about Catherine Zeta-Jones and a rat? Or that the oft-used trailer image of her writhing through red strings with her butt in the air was "everybody's favorite shot" in the movie? Though I doubt Sean Connery was as "delightful" as Amiel makes him sound here (really, isn't he a big ol' grouch?), the director gushes enough that I'm sure he believes it. Aside from a few lags (perhaps Amiel was having some tea and crumpets), this is a rather delightful commentary.
The only other extra is the film's Theatrical Trailer in full 1080p, plus promos for other Fox Blu-ray titles.
'Entrapment' works fairly well as a heist thriller, but I personally found the Sean Connery-Catherine Zeta-Jones romance thing creepy. (Not that Zeta-Jones' real-life romance with Michael Douglas is any less creepier). This Blu-ray release boasts a solid transfer and soundtrack that hold up well. I also liked the director commentary, which was quite upbeat. But with another $39.95 list price from Fox, this is a tough sell for all but the film's most dedicated fans.