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I had not seen Luis Mandoki's Trapped since I went with my mom to the theater opening weekend back in 2002. I enjoyed it then for what it is: a trashy, B-movie thriller full of melodrama that might have been made for Lifetime TV if not for its violence, language and A-list cast. The film holds up decently after 18 years, thanks in large part to convincing performances by Charlize Theron and a young Dakota Fanning. This child-endangerment thriller certainly does not rival movies like Ransom or Man on Fire in technical merits or dramatic heft, but it does offer pulpy thrills. I still maintain the inclusion of musician Courtney Love in a supporting role is one of the film's best qualities, and Trapped moves through its plot at a brisk pace. The surface drama is fairly tame, but there are some surprisingly unpleasant undertones here, which keeps Trapped at least somewhat grounded in reality.
The film opens with a quick look at what happens when Joe Hickey (Kevin Bacon) kidnaps a child: The family pays a hefty ransom, the child stays alive, and Joe gets away. Things do not go quite as planned when Joe organizes the kidnapping of Abigail Jennings (Fanning), the daughter of wealthy doctor Will Jennings (Stuart Townsend) and wife Karen (Theron). Joe nabs Abigail from inside her home and hands her off to his cousin, Marvin (Pruitt Taylor Vince), who guards Abigail offsite as Joe stays behind to torment Karen and lay down the ground rules. After a handful of successful kidnappings, Joe considers himself a pro, but his research failed to uncover that Abigail is severely asthmatic, which throws a wrench in the entire plan. Karen desperately fights with Joe to save her ailing daughter, while Will is accosted by Joe's wife Cheryl (Love) in his hotel room while attending a conference. As tensions rise, Joe desperately tries to salvage the operation, Abigail fights to breathe and stay alive, Karen attempts to manipulate Joe, and Will appeals to Cheryl's humanity.
This is the second time I have reviewed Trapped. The first time was as a high schooler for my local newspaper. I served on the "Teen Panel" of writers back in 2002, and I gave the film a thumbs up as an entertaining thriller. I support my 16-year-old self's recommendation, though I now more candidly acknowledge the film's melodramatic flaws. Subtle and expertly scripted Trapped is not; sorry Greg Iles. The film is based on his 2000 novel "24 Hours," which I have not read. The film flirts with lurid sexual violence, and it is implied that Joe rapes or at least heavily coerces the mothers of his child victims to make their own payments in flesh. Trapped flirts with the ugly truths of these kidnappings but never quite goes there. People are violated and hurt, but the film almost sanitizes what a terrible guy Joe is. Bacon plays the kidnapper to leering perfection, and his portrayal of this predator is almost charming. He puts Karen through the ringer, forcing her to pretend to a nosy neighbor that they are having an affair to avoid detection. Cheryl is less deranged and begins to crack under pressure in Will's hotel suite.
The material is TV-grade, but the acting is pretty solid. Fanning, especially, is revelatory at a scant seven years old, and shows genuine emotion throughout. Theron is also excellent, and teeters between bereaved, helpless and incensed with ease. Bacon does well with his sleazy character, and Love shows surprising depth. She is tasked with some heavy lifting, as Townsend makes little impression, and brings humanity to her character and the entire situation. By the time Trapped rolls into its action-packed finale, complete with diving airplanes and exploding tanker trucks, any hope of a low-key resolution is all but diminished. Trapped is nowhere near the top of Theron or Bacon's filmographies, but it is certainly an entertaining, B-movie diversion.
The film makes it Blu-ray debut courtesy of Mill Creek Entertainment, and the 1.78:1/1080p/AVC-encoded image is definitely sourced from an older master. That is not to say things are all bad, as the film offers decent fine-object detail and texture, reasonable shadow detail in interior settings, and a natural layer of grain. Some earlier scenes look a bit anemic and washed out, but contrast and color saturation improve as the film moves forward. There is some moderate black crush and a bit of clumping grain in darker scenes, and viewers expecting a razor-sharp HD experience may be disappointed. Nevertheless, this transfer at least is free of digital tinkering or print flaws.
The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio mix is acceptable but nothing spectacular. Element spacing is appropriate, and the track comes alive during some of the action sequences. Dialogue is clear and uncrowded, and the score is decently deep. English SDH subtitles are available.
None, despite the original DVD release from Sony being fairly stacked.
This 2002 suspense thriller offers an A-list cast and melodramatic thrills. This disc is lightly Recommended for fans of the film. Trapped's Blu-ray debut offers decent but dated A/V specs and no extras. The uninitiated can likely find this streaming for free.
William lives in Burlington, North Carolina, and looks forward to a Friday-afternoon matinee.