Trapped (2002)
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Review Date: September 20, 2002
Director: Luis Mandoki
Writer: Greg Iles
Producers: Luis Mandoki, Mimi Polk Gitlin
Kevin Bacon
Charlize Theron
Courtney Love
A creepy man who is convinced that he has the "perfect plan" to kidnap children from wealthy couples in exchange for ransom, succeeds in four such endeavors with his co-conspirators, and prepares for a fifth. The unlucky mother of his next effort discovers him in the house one day and is given 24 hours to exchange a mountain of green bills for her child's safe return. Thrills ensue.
Wow, what a surprise. Both the trailer and title of this movie gave the impression of a typical straight-to-video B-movie with decent-sized named actors, and after all screenings for the flick were 86'd by the studio last week, everyone (including yours truly) prepared themselves for the worst. Well, what do you know...the movie is actually pretty good! In fact, how surprised was I that at about the halfway mark, I was honestly considering it as one of the best thrillers of the year? I'm serious! If you groove on suspense thrillers, appreciate films with engaging premises, many tense and claustrophobic moments, a solid cast, interesting characters, as well as some pretty neat twists and turns...I'm pretty sure that you will enjoy this jelly-bean as well. I certainly did and unless I'm seriously out to lunch on this one, I can only assume that the studio kept this puppy under the radar because of the "bad timing" of its subject matter (the abduction of children) and the recent media focus on many such real-life cases. The movie also features a very ritualized plan on how to kidnap kids and get away with it (a plan that actually seemed quite plausible), which I am sure nobody really wanted to promote at this point in time. Having said that, I was able to forego the real-life connection and just try and relate to what was on the screen, and much of that was entirely suspenseful, extremely well-paced and ultimately...dare I say, entertaining!

Sure we've seen a lot of thrillers of this type before, but one of the twists to this adventure was that it all took place within a period of 24 hours. The characters, all played very believably by all involved, also came through as well developed (although some more than others) and I ultimately really cared about the kid, the wife and the husband enough to commiserate. Charlize Theron was especially convincing in a role which she knows only too well, playing the "trophy" wife, but one who is not going down without a fight. She cries as much as I've ever seen her cry in any of her flicks (and this lady's bawled with the best of them!) and I for one...bought it! What I didn't appreciate was that she didn't drop her top at the drop of a hat, as per her usual style, but alas...we can't have it all. Having said that, there were a couple of scenes that were particularly charged in this film, one of which was an incredibly uncomfortable "bedroom" scenario between Theron and Bacon (no "bacon" for the ladies either). I also enjoyed Bacon's energetic performance (to be expected of him-solid actor), as well as Pruitt Taylor Vince's "dumb guy with a big heart" routine. Now that I think about it, none of these actors were really "stretching" here (and God, don't get me started on Courtney Love as the inebriated battered wife...yawn), but in the context of the script, which tossed you right into the mix early on and kept things moving until the very end, as well as the directing, which went a little "over the top" at times, but managed to create a whole lot of uneasiness...everyone fit this flick to a tee.

I also appreciated the small bits of humor injected here and there, especially the entire sequence with the neighbor. Funny stuff. What didn't I like about the picture? Well, like I said before, some of the directing seemed a little overboard at times, especially the opening sequence which freakily reminded me of the dismal ROLLERBALL (not a good omen), some of the shaky cam stuff and the ending, which didn't feel as "in tune" with the rest of the movie (although the action stuff was pretty cool). But overall, I didn't have too many issues with this solid thriller. I'm actually very surprised as to why it was treated the way that it was on a marketing level, but then again, maybe the movie sucks and I just didn't see that. Either way, I would recommend this movie to anyone who enjoys taut thrillers, well-paced, dark suspensers in the same mode as PANIC ROOM and anyone who wants to see Charlize Theron strutting around in black undies (that last part will probably convince more people to see this movie than anything else I've said). Whatever the case, I'm happy to report that TRAPPED wasn't the stinker that it seemed destined to be, that I most certainly enjoyed my time with it and that it will hopefully get seen (and appreciated) by more people when it hits video shelves in a few months.
(c) 2018 Berge Garabedian

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