Review by Gordon Justesen

Stars: Charlize Theron, Courtney Love, Stuart Townsend, Kevin Bacon, Pruitt Taylor Vince, Dakota Fanning
Director: Luis Mandoki
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1
Studio: Columbia Tri Star
Features: See Review
Length: 106 Minutes
Release Date: December 24, 2002

ďWhat we have here is a kidnapping for ransom. But, see, itís not just any kidnapping. Itís a perfect kidnapping. And I know that for a fact because Iíve done it four times before and I havenít been caught yet.Ē

Film ***

Trapped suffered a blow at the box office, and for a understandable reason, that of pure bad timing. The plot involves a ransom kidnapping of a little girl, and this year experienced a unexpected high case of missing children, many of which had tragic results. I strongly believe that if the film had been pushed back a few months, the movie may have had a chance, although itís very true that a delayed release is frequently a bad curse. Itís too bad it suffered, because Trapped is a thoroughly gripping, edge of your seat nail-biter that takes a familiar premise and gives it a neat twist or two, along with a top quality cast and production value to boot.

The movie, set within a 24 hour timeline, involves a kidnapping and extortion plot devised by a professional husband and wife team. The family prey is that of the wealthy Jennings family. While the father, Will (Stuart Townsend), goes away for a business press conference, wife Karen (Charlize Theron) and their daughter Abby (Dakota Fanning) are enjoying their time at their lake house. But their lives are turned terrifyingly upside down when Karen discovers Abby has disappeared from her sight and a stranger named Joe (Kevin Bacon) enters her home.

Joe clearly introduces himself as the kidnapper, and holds Karen hostage while explaining his elaborate plan. The kidnapping is a 24 hour process, where the child and parents are separated from each other, a phone call is made every 30 minutes to the person looking after the child, and the next day a money wiring transfer is made, and everyone is back together. Joe isnít entirely sinister, as he had committed many kidnappings in the past and always reunited the families in the end successfully. At the same time Karen is being held hostage, Joeís wife, Cheryl (Courtney Love) takes Will hostage at the hotel heís staying in, delivering the same information to him. Itís a simple part of the elaborate plan, as a phone call from Joe must be made her way to make sure that everything is set right in motion.

The person watching over Abby is Joeís cousin, Marvin (Pruitt Taylor Vince), who is holding her at an undisclosed location. Although Joeís plan is indeed the perfect plan, and he has done it many times before, a flaw comes when it is revealed that the kidnappee is asthmatic, and could die any minute from an attack, putting a possible severe dent in the 24 hour timeline, adding an extra dose of tension to the plot. Once it is also revealed what Joeís true motivation for targeting the family, Will finds himself placed against the clock, and has to stop what could be a horrifying end to the plan. It all leads up to suspense-packed climax, which may seem like it belongs in an action picture, but remains engaging nonetheless.

The strength in Trapped is provided by the top line of actors in the film. Kevin Bacon is always a reliable heavy in the movies, and he brings a great deal of believability to the role of the kidnapper. Charlize Theron proves in this film that there is a strong actress beyond the incredible good looks she happens to carry, and proves some gutsy moves in the film, especially when she threatens Joe with a scalpel on the private area when she makes a move on him, a scene that will have every guy becoming squeamish.

Trapped never lets go for a second, and is a first rate thriller indeed. The plot is superbly executed, and the cast gives it a strong bonus. Suspense fans will no doubt get their moneys worth with this top of the line choice.

Video ****

Columbia Tri Star applies their usual brilliance here with a stunning picture transfer. From the opening sequence, which consists of washed out colors, to the final frame, the image is thoroughly and consistently a hundred percent flawless. There isnít a single flaw in the presentation. Colors are clearly natural, and the picture is as clear as can be. A triumph of a transfer!

Audio ***1/2

As you would expect in a suspense movie, sound is most of the time a key element, and CTS demonstrates this with a perfect 5.1 audio track. The sound quality is present throughout the movie, providing superb sound in areas such as background noise, music score, and the climatic action sequence. Dialogue is delivered wonderfully, as well.

Features ***1/2

Itís a wonder Columbia Tri Star didnít label this a Special Edition release, since it carries with it some good added extras. Featured are two commentary tracks; one with director Luis Mandoki and one with screenwriter Greg Iles. Also included is a featurette titled ďTrapped From WithinĒ, several deleted scenes along with an alternate ending, and trailers for this, as well as trailers for Enough, Hollow Man, I Spy, Panic Room, Spider-Man and XXX.


Trapped is a white knuckle suspense ride that hopefully will get a second chance on DVD, as it should. Those seeking a tension packed movie will definitely get what they were seeking.