The fact that Entrapment became a No 1 box-office success until it was bumped off by Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999) is a testament to a slick publicity presentation triumphing over content. Entrapment sold itself as a sexual thriller. With its suggestive title and a poster campaign that features the two stars a full-figure shot of Catherine Zeta-Jones in a figure-hugging catsuit outlined against a background of Sean Connerys face and the legend The trap is set the films entire selling point has been less as a sophisticated hi-tech caper thriller than it has as a psycho-sexual thriller along the lines of Basic Instinct (1992). Maybe in awareness of the potential ludicrousness of a forty year age gap in the romance between Sean Connery and Catherine Zeta-Jones, the film is in actuality a complete cheat on everything its marketing machine tries to sell it as. Despite being the films selling point, the on-screen sex appeal is entirely limited to a cuddle between the leads and whatever titillation the sight of watching Catherine Zeta-Jones doing acrobatics in a catsuit may hold. In terms of steam, it raises about as much as a puff of air on a cold window pane.
Despite the promise it holds, Entrapment is a surprisingly dull film. Director Jon Amiels previous film was the excellent serial killer thriller Copycat (1995) and some time before he had directed the Dennis Potter tv classic The Singing Detective (1986), but here Amiel directs in the most perfunctory way. The script is formulaic but at least has enough twists and turns that a competent director could have made it hum with tension. However, under Jon Amiels hand, the plot and the two caper set-pieces take place with almost nothing in the way of affect. The more you sit watching the film, the more you begin to realize it has been slung together only as a calculated marketing exercise. There is nothing of any depth to it. The characters are faceless you are never sure right up until the end whether Caterine Zeta-Jones is an insurance investigator or whether she is a world-class thief who has conned her way into the job. Half of the film supposedly hangs on whether she can trust Sean Connery but when we never even know whether she is who she claims to be, it is hard to care either way. You spend half the film asking obvious questions like if Sean Connery is so brilliant, how come he never works out something so obvious as that she is working for an insurance company? Or how can a mere insurance claims clerk develop such sophisticated acrobatic and thieving abilities? Or, on the other hand, if Catherine Zeta-Jones is such a good thief, why does she have such problems in the basic training for the caper?
Not much of this makes sense in the twist end revelation, which makes all Sean Connerys piecing together of her identity into nonsense. At the point of the films big climactic set-piece with Catherine Zeta-Jones navigating a thin cable between two skyscraper towers while wearing high heels and she and Connery swinging between the towers on a wire held on only by one screw, you suddenly realize that this is a film that is not even vaguely interested in making the pretence that this is happening to real people and you cease to care about the preceding two hours.
A far better version of the sexy caper thriller type of film that Entrapment tries to be was produced in The Thomas Crown Affair (1999) later the same year. Jon Amiel next went onto the equally ludicrous and improbability-ridden science-fiction film The Core (2003) and improved with the Charles Darwin biopic Creation (2009). He is set to return to genre material with the upcoming killer shark film The Meg (2018).