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If you get kidnapped, make sure you get really angry and defiant, then you’ll be OK.

Movie
The premise of Trapped seems convoluted but is actually quite simple. Kidnapping duo Joe (Kevin Bacon being scary again) and Cheryl (Courtney Love, and what kind of name is Cheryl for a criminal?) have been extracting ransom money from unsuspecting young families for a long while, completing four kidnap-ransom exchanges before the big one we see in the film.

Trapped (Rental)

The plan this time is to kidnap the daughter of a young couple and squeeze a hefty ransom sum out of the husband. Karen (Charlize Theron) and Will (Stuart Townsend) look like a wealthy and successful pair; she’s a designer (and cute as a button to boot) and he’s a doctor who works hard to give the best he can to his family. When little Abby (Dakota Fanning, again with a maturity far beyond her years) is snatched by stupid third-party kidnapper Marvin (Pruitt Taylor Vince), Joe and Cheryl swoop on the other two. Joe corners Karen and looks like he might either hurt her or kiss her right on the spot, while Cheryl bails up Will and looks like she could do absolutely anything.

The rest of the plan is your typical rock-solid theory where no one will get hurt unless they have to. If any funny business goes on then Marvin will be instructed to pull the trigger on Abby. They even have to check in at specified times otherwise some damage will be done, and by the looks of Joe and Cheryl they’re not afraid to carry the plan out in full. But, of course, Karen’s got other plans, fuelled by motherly love and the knowledge that her little girl is a chronic asthmatic and may well die anyway if she doesn’t get any medication. Will seems like a bit of a putz but eventually something clicks and he tries to wear down the erratic Cheryl as they sit around the hotel room.

Things are pretty grim-looking from the outset and not much changes as we quickly move from the initial snatchings to the mundane action as the three pairs await a transfer of funds. The effect of trapping the characters and the audience in the situation works well but doesn’t let up until an exaggerated final act that’ll either have you laughing or shaking your head in disbelief.

Trapped (Rental)

Director Luis Mandoki (Message In A Bottle) tries quite hard and makes what is ultimately a watchable but stock-standard thriller. His use of a hand held camera with a zoom lens looks shabby at times and does take a bit of getting used to, but there are certain instances where it’s really warranted. The characters aren’t given enough time to display their motivations for anything, instead (in the case of Joe and Cheryl) having them pour out in a moment of anger as they attempt to explain to the audience why they’ve decided to turn so ‘bad’. Mandoki doesn’t resort to many artificial scares, like the ones where a character appears out of nowhere accompanied by a high pitched screech from a quartet of violins, and instead turns to a smoldering, knife-edge set of scenarios that try ever so hard to have you glued to your set. But one can’t get away from the fact this is all too familiar, and when the disastrous finale hits the screen you’re pretty much beyond caring anyway.

Basically, there’s not a lot to explain about this film, just that it’s your stock-standard thriller with a half interesting premise that isn’t quite played out like it should. Bacon seems to enjoy playing another bad guy as does Love, while Theron is her usual self in one of her rare roles where she doesn’t get all her gear off. Fans of any of the three may find something of value in the film when you pick it up off the rental shelves, just don’t go expecting anything brilliant.

Video
Another fine transfer from the folks at Roadshow, with their quality control department still on the ball when it comes to creating great-looking DVDs. Here we have a 1.85:1 anamorphic presentation that looks great even with the deliberately over-exposed opening sequence. Sharpness is quite good and the colours look vibrant despite the muted palette. With most of the action taking place during the evening the visuals seem to struggle a little with the blacks at times, while others appear to be quite deep and consistent. A pretty good transfer on this one, with a clean print that’ll ensure you don’t lose focus thanks to any visual nasties.

Trapped (Rental)

Audio
The Dolby Digital 5.1 track included on the disc uses the rare moments of action to pump out some pretty good surround sound. The plane in the opening ten minutes is the perfect example; not the most extravagant effect but used well in context with the film it really works. The film was scored by John Ottman, a veteran of orchestral movie scores with films such as The Usual Suspects and X2 under his belt. The music in Trapped sounds quite good and often makes its way into the rears for added effect. In all, not a bad little audio mix.

Extras
A pretty good package has been assembled for this one, starting with the commentary tracks. First up there’s Luis Mandoki’s tracks, where he carefully chooses his words to create a rather interesting commentary on the film. There are some pauses and Mandoki seems a little lost at times but on the whole it’s worth a listen. He describes what kind of effect they were going for in certain scenes and really leaves it up to the viewer to decide whether they were effective.

The second commentary is with writer Greg Iles, who recounts how the film changed over time and looks at the way the writing works with the visuals. He can’t seem to hide his admiration for the actors which loses a bit of the focus of the track, but it’s still riddled with some great info along the way.

The next piece is a making of featurette, which looks at Charlize’s large role in the film and the efforts of the cast and crew. As usual it’s pretty congratulatory but there are some interesting interviews with director, writer and cast. It’s probably a little too heavy in the clips section so that drags the whole piece down a little.

Trapped (Rental)

Moving on, there’s also an alternate ending and deleted scenes to peruse. The alternate ending is very vague and it might take you a while before the actual point of the whole thing sinks in. The deleted scenes, five in all, also come without commentary or explanation, but are actually well worth a look. The first scene is probably the best, adding some closure to what we eventually see as the opening sequence.

Rounding out the quality extras package are some filmographies of all the main players and the theatrical trailer, which tries to give way too much information away yet still manages to raise a little interest in the film.

Overall
It probably won’t knock your socks off and it’s definitely far from original, so thankfully the disc comes out as a rental as well so you can at least give the film a go. It’s not dire by any means but the exaggerated ending doesn’t help to keep you interested. The video and audio are very good and the extras package has some real value, so as a disc this one is quite good.


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