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Columbia TriStar Home Video presents
Trapped (2002)

"Mrs. Jennings, stay calm. Abby's not here. She's absolutely fine. My name is Joe,and I'm going to help you through this."
- Joe (Kevin Bacon)

Review By: Rich Rosell  
Published: December 23, 2002

Stars: Charlize Theron, Kevin Bacon, Stuart Townsend
Other Stars: Courtney Love, Dakota Fanning, Pruitt Taylor Vince
Director: Luis Mandoki

MPAA Rating: R for violence, language and sexual content
Run Time: 01h:45m:42s
Release Date: December 24, 2002
UPC: 043396078246
Genre: suspense thriller


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B+ A-B+B+ B

DVD Review

Trapped should have won some kind of Bad Timing Award, with its theatrical release in 2002 plopped right in the middle of a year achingly full of a number of highly publicized child kidnappings and murders. Movies generally serve as escapism, and while it is a tough challenge ANYTME to make kidnapped kids palpable entertainment, it is even harder to enjoy when the heartbreaking headlines make the subject matter almost a daily occurrence. It is likely that the "too close to the headlines" reason caused Trapped to disappear from the theatrical radar so quickly, and it's unfortunate because this is a slick, well-executed Hollywood thriller.

Director Luis Mandoki (Angel Eyes) and first-time screenwriter Greg Iles quickly set an atmosphere of suspense and tension, and manage to slowly build on it as the film progresses. Abby Jenkins (I Am Sam's Dakota Fanning) is the seven-year-old daughter of a wealthy couple (Stuart Townsend and Charlize Theron) who is kidnapped for ransom by a trio of baddies led by nasty, nasty Joe Hickey (Kevin Bacon). It seems that Joe and his partners have done this kind of thing before (something we learn in the film's stylishly shot opening sequence), and their modus operandi is always the same. Abby's mother Karen (Theron) is held prisoner at home by Joe, while the father Will (Townsend) is guarded by Joe's wife Cheryl (Courtney Love) while he is away on a business conference. The child is held by hulking simpleton Marvin (Pruitt Taylor Vince) in a remote cabin, and if he does not receive a phone call from Joe every thirty minutes over the next 24 hours he will kill Abby.

We have seen films like this before, most notably Ransom and Don't Say A Word, and while those had their share of far-fetched moments, Trapped has its lead characters perform in far more believable manners (except perhaps for the obligatory wildly explosive finale). This one is parcelled into three separate, yet connected, scenarios, and Mandoki rapidly alternates between pairings of Abby/Marvin, Karen/Joe and Will/Cheryl, with the succession of imminent danger escalating exponentially.

A film like this is obviously built around placing a child in danger, and though that can easily become an over-wrought and exploitive tool, Mandoki and Iles use Fanning's Abby almost sparingly in comparison. Fanning, however, is such an impressive young actress that her scenes with Marvin are so intense and well-played that any more of her would have been completely unsettling. I can't recall seeing a child actor convey genuine fear and terror more convincingly, and it is her performance that gives the kidnapping scenario real dramatic depth.

Despite being undercut and paralleled by chilling realities, Trapped is a notch above the traditional genre, and the film moves along so quickly that I found myself getting sucked into the action without hesitation. This is a nicely crafted thriller, complimented by a batch of better-than-average performances, especially from Fanning and Vince.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: A-

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: Trapped comes in a 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer, and this disc really looks stunning. Some minor grain issues aside, the bulk of this transfer is beautiful, with deep, rich colors and naturally radiant fleshtones; likewise, black levels are equally solid. Edge enhancement is minimal, and there were but a few isolated instances of inconsequential compression artifacts.

Well done, Columbia TriStar.

Image Transfer Grade: B+

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital
5.1
English, Frenchyes


Audio Transfer Review: Audio is provided in 5.1 Dolby Digital, and is available in both English and French. The 5.1 mix is very clean and well-mixed, with the occasional use of subtle rear channel sound cues being highly effective (especially the ticking clocks during the scenes with Marvin and Abby). Even with the infrequent use of substantial rear channel action, the overall presentation is exceptionally solid, as the front channels deliver a spacious soundstage loaded with swirling sound cues and imaging that heighten the tension.

Very nice.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 28 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French with remote access
Cast and Crew Filmographies
1 Original Trailer(s)
6 Other Trailer(s) featuring Enough, Hollow Man, I Spy, Panic Room, Spider-Man, xXx
5 Deleted Scenes
1 Alternate Endings
1 Documentaries
2 Feature/Episode commentaries by Luis Mandoki, Greg Iles
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extras Review: Columbia TriStar has stocked Trapped with a rather respectable amount of supplements, anchored by a pair of low-key, but informative screen-specific commentary tracks; neither of the two are exactly electric to listen to, but the content is rewarding. Director Luis Mandoki handles the first track, and he has a slow, calm delivery that may cause some viewers to be easily lulled into a semiconscious state. His content, however, is quite good, full of detailed technical info on his flashy camera techniques and how he worked to create continually building layers of tension and suspense. Screenwriter/author Greg Iles handles the second track, and I found this one to be slightly more engaging, though he has a similarly slow delivery. Iles' content centers on the writing and creative process, and would-be screenwriters might especially enjoy his slant on the project development.

There is a making-of featurette entitled Trapped From Within (19m:41s), full of the usual talking head fluff shots from all of the principle production people. As expected, the story origins are discussed, and we get to see some behind-the-scenes footage, including the big action-packed finale.

There are five brief Deleted Scenes, presented in rough-cut nonanamorphic widescreen. For a change, though, these scenes are actually all are solid, character-advancing sequences, and I suspect most were cut strictly to keep the film under two hours. There is a wonderfully tense moment between Marvin and Abby that is largely dialogue free, and is easily the best of the excised footage. The scenes are:
Marvin Releases Pete (01m:01s)
$250,000 (02m:00s)
Get Your Mind Right (:53s)
I Won't Cry (02m:23)
Katie (02m:18s)

An Alternate Ending (:52s) is also included, though it varies little from the actual finished film, except for a solitary final shot that served to bookend the entire story.

Filmographies, a batch of enjoyable trailers (Trapped, Enough, Hollow Man, I Spy, Panic Room, Spider-Man and xXx), 28 chapters and subtitles (English, French) complete the extras.

Extras Grade: B

 

Final Comments

Even with its slightly outrageous climax, Trapped is a taut, kidnapping thriller that moves along very rapidly. All of the actors contribute strong performances, but little Dakota Fanning delivers nerve-rattling fear, panic and tears that will certainly make any parent absolutely shudder.

Highly recommended.

 


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