Trapped (2002)

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Released 1-Sep-2003

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Thriller Dolby Digital Trailer-Canyon
Audio Commentary
Audio Commentary
Featurette-Making Of
Deleted Scenes-5
Alternate Ending
Filmographies-Cast & Crew
Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2002
Running Time 101:25 (Case: 96)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (74:06) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Luis Mandoki
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Charlize Theron
Kevin Bacon
Stuart Townsend
Courtney Love
Dakota Fanning
Pruitt Taylor Vince
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI ? Music John Ottman


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement Yes, Minor
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

"It was the perfect plan until she refused to become the perfect victim!"
"Fear Strikes Back"

    Joe Hickey has devised the perfect crime, to be perpetrated on the perfect victim. There is no stronger bond than that between a mother and her child. Anything that breaks that bond is unbearable for each party, child and parent, and both will do anything to repair that break. Joe knows this, and it is this rather obvious insight that has earned him a lot of money. The plan is simple: quickly and decisively separate all of the parties involved. This means that the mother, the father and child are all in reality kidnapped and all held separately. Then, place a ransom on the life of the child to the tune of $250,000. As the parents of the child are always well off, this rather modest sum will probably not attract the undue attention of others as much as a ransom of, say, $3,000,000 might. To someone of reasonable wealth, $250,000 might be the value of a work of art, or a new performance sports car, or a new holiday retreat. But to Joe Hickey (Kevin Bacon; Footloose, Hollow Man), $250,000 is a massive fortune, and the victims of his crimes will always follow the path of least resistance; they will comply with Joe's demands and pay the ransom without any complications. It is the only way that the terrified parents can hope to be reunited with their beloved children. Now, after four very successful and rewarding kidnappings, Joe and his accomplices have set their sights on Abby, the daughter of successful doctor Will Jennings (Stuart Townsend; Queen of the Damned, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen) and his wife Karen (Charlize Theron; Devil's Advocate, The Cider House Rules).

    At first the plan goes as normal. Each of the family members is separated from each other, with the only communication between any of the family controlled by Joe. Then the machine is set in motion, 'a machine that runs on fear' as Joe says. Every half hour Joe places a call to Marvin, his cousin, who is holding young Abby. As long as Marvin (Pruitt Taylor Vince; Jacob's Ladder, Identity) receives that call each 30 minutes, the girl lives. No call, and the girl dies. It's very plain and simple and is instilled in the mind of Karen. Try to drug, knock unconscious or kill Joe and the call doesn't get made, resulting in the death of Abby. The 'machine of fear' runs for exactly 24 hours, by which time the parents will have withdrawn and transferred the money to wherever Joe has requested. At the end of the 24 hour period, all are released unharmed (mostly) with instructions never to report what has happened ("we know where you live").

    As the drama unfolds, Joe maintains a tenuous hold on his captives as well as his cohorts, but as time goes on, he begins to find that this is not any ordinary family who will just roll over and acquiesce to his every whim. And now, with every fibre in their being, the family starts to fight back, doing anything to thwart their captors. However, the terror is only beginning as Karen and Will learn that Joe might not only have money on his mind, but revenge as well!

    This is one of those films that comes along every few years. You know the one; bad guy picks the wrong family to rob / kill / kidnap / extort / rape or whatever. The taglines on the front cover of this disc really say it all, and in their simple way almost convey the whole storyline of the movie. But then, if you are a frequent moviegoer, you will spot this one a mile off. Having said all that, this film isn't all that bad. Written originally as a screenplay by author Greg Iles, the story was then written in novel form when the original screenplay wasn't used in a proposed film project. It was over a year later when the book, called 24 Hours, had been released that the producers, along with director Luis Mandoki (When a Man Loves a Woman, Message in a Bottle, Angel Eyes) came to Iles with the idea of turning his novel back into a screenplay. After just one meeting between Iles and Mandoki, the picture was set in motion. With an all-star cast on board including popular stars Kevin Bacon, Charlize Theron and Courtney Love, along with an accomplished director in Luis Mandoki, all the makings of a box office smash were on hand. In the end, however, I don't think that this project attracted the box office that the producers would have expected. They will make money out of the picture from international box office receipts and video rentals and sales, but it's not the blockbuster that they probably expected. There are a few things that let down this picture. First of all, the obvious: this is far from original. Ransom, the Mel Gibson star vehicle, and Unlawful Entry come to mind when thinking of the storyline of this film. While in production, the writer and director were also mindful of the big budget David Fincher film Panic Room and the Michael Douglas thriller Don't Say a Word. Both of these films covered some of the same territory as Trapped and, ultimately, probably eclipsed this film.

    Performances here are fairly good overall. Kevin Bacon, originally attracted to the role of Will Jennings, eventually fell into the bad guy role despite the fact that he really wanted to get away from portraying the same kind of character as he had portrayed in several of his recent other films (Wild Things, Hollow Man). Still, he does a great job as a baddie on the edge. Also putting in a great performance is Charlize Theron, who improvised some of the most intense scenes with Kevin, pushing the envelope of the Karen character and surprising her co-stars as well as the director. Courtney Love is also good in her supporting role with an earthy performance as Joe's accomplice. Young newcomer Dakota Fanning does a great job in the role of Abby Jennings, and this is just one in a string of well-regarded performances. She has been applauded for her touching performance in the film I Am Sam and features in the soon-to-be-released big screen adaptation of the Dr. Seuss classic children's book The Cat in the Hat. Probably the one actor who doesn't quite fit amongst the main cast is Stuart Townsend, a more regimented actor and one who is not so inclined towards improvisation as the other three main actors. This is something the director recognized and he encouraged Townsend to use this straightness and formality and integrate it into the character of the doctor. Still, his performance seemed a bit wooden in comparison to the others. Director Luis Mandoki does a good job with the material and the cinematography is very good with Piotr Sobocinski (Trois couleurs: Rouge / Three Colours: Red, Hearts in Atlantis) setting up the shots. Unfortunately, Piotr died just a week into the shoot (only in his early 40s) and the role fell to accomplished Director of Photography Frederick Elmes who is known for his work on Wild at Heart, The Ice Storm and more recently the big budget Eric Bana film Hulk. Elmes managed to emulate the style that Sobocinski had started with and we have as a result a quite well-filmed movie in a cinematographic sense.

    I thought that this film was okay, given the fact that I didn't expect too much from it. It's not that I didn't expect anything at all from it, but if you consider the rash of straight-to-video pap out there that masquerades as cinema, then you could do a lot worse than this. A reasonable film that is a good Saturday night thriller you can enjoy on a cold night curled up on the couch. Just don't expect too much as there isn't much original here. Not bad.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The video image made available here is average and quite watchable, though not near any sort of benchmark quality.

    This disc presents the film in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 with the appropriate 16x9 enhancement.

    I found the general image throughout quite clean and the sharpness of the image was not at all any sort of problem during the programme itself. The opening portion of the film is filmed in quite an oversaturated manner in terms of light exposure. The writer of the film, Greg Iles, calls this technique the 'Three Kings look', after the 1999 David O. Russell film's style of overexposure. This part is completely intended and only lasts for the duration of the opening. The rest of the film takes on quite a natural look. Shadow detail is reasonable given the level of compression used in creating this disc as well as the quality of film stock used. Overcompression and large amounts of grain could have made some of the darker portions of this film fairly distracting, but thankfully we have no such problems here and the image exhibits fair amounts of low level detail, which is good as there are quite a number of darker scenes during the film. Low level noise is not a problem.

    Colour use during this film was completely natural in style (apart from the opening sequence) with no exaggeration present. We get very good use of lighting during the feature and for this picture, lighting takes almost a more important role than that of colour. The lighting in this film is quite good. Colour as committed to this disc is quite good and looks to replicate that seen in the theatrical run of the film.

    MPEG artefacts are mostly absent here as we have the benefit of a dual layered disc and its obvious room for the data to breathe. That said, the video bitrate level generally hangs in the 4.73 to 5.55 Mbps range and at times dips into the 3.78 Mbps range. This, however, doesn't spell doom for the quality of the image on this disc with a competent quality of picture throughout. There is at times the usual tapestry effect seen in solid fields of colour during the film, but outright pixelization and macroblocking don't present problems here. If you look carefully, you can see MPEG noise from time to time, but not to a distracting extent. Aliasing is not as distracting as I would have expected and our old mate edge enhancement seems to have been held for ransom somewhere else as he rarely made any appreciable appearances here. We do get the occasional nick and fleck on screen to tell us that this has indeed been committed from film stock, but overall we get a very clean transfer on this disc.

    We get an English subtitle stream as well as an English for the Hearing Impaired stream as our options. I found the English subtitle option adequate enough to convey the general meaning of the dialogue without being word for word.

    This disc is formatted RSDL with the layer change taking place at 74:06, which is within Chapter 18. This didn't look to be the best place for a layer change, being mid scene, but I only noticed it during my third watching of the film so it must have not been all that badly placed.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The audio presentation here is fairly good with an appropriate use of sound in all of the available channels.

    There are three audio options available here on this disc. These include the main audio track in English Dolby Digital 5.1, a Director's commentary in English Dolby Digital 2.0 and a Writer's commentary, also in English Dolby Digital 2.0. I listened to all in their entirety.

    I found the dialogue quality for this programme quite good throughout. Despite some of the accents used (including the author Greg Iles' pronounced Southern accent), I had no problems with the intelligibility of the dialogue during the program.

    Audio sync is not a major problem with this disc, although there is some obvious ADR to be seen and heard at 14:44 with Kevin Bacon's dialogue just that little bit out for a short time. Not a huge drama by any means, but I did notice it.

    The music for the film comes from versatile composer John Ottman, who has scored such films as The Usual Suspects, Eight Legged Freaks and X2:  X-Men United. The score here is in the traditional style and conveys the fear and excitement that we see on screen. A quite complementary score that serves the film well without being overly bombastic or predictable.

    The surrounds are used appropriately here and contribute an effective atmospheric sound during much of the picture. They do come into their own during the various aerial shots and the freeway chase scene. Not overused, but contributory as they should be.

    As is the case with the surround channels, so it is with the LFE track on this disc. It serves the musical passages of the film as well as some of the action sequences and backs up the role of the mains without becoming overused and distracting.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    We get a good range of useful and interesting extras with this disc.

Menu

    After the usual distributor's logos and copyright warnings, we are taken to this disc's Main Menu. Surprisingly, at least for me, the menus here are not animated. Perhaps I've become spoilt with the plethora of animated menus and so I've probably become accustomed to them always being there, but it was fairly abrupt from my perspective to see that the menus are all completely static in nature, although they are 16x9 enhanced. There is also no audio to be heard during the various menus.

    Coming to the Main Menu, we are offered the following:

    Selecting the Special Features option, you are presented with the following:

Director's Commentary, Luis Mandoki

    Very much in the 'Okay, now in this scene...' vein. While there is the occasional gem of information to be heard during this commentary, it is not the most engaging commentary I've ever heard. Perhaps it is because of the director not having English as his first language, but I certainly wasn't more drawn into the film because of the director's insights here. As I am a big fan of commentaries, I can only recommend that if you are only going to listen to one commentary on this disc, best you make it the Writer's Commentary.

Writer's Commentary, Greg Iles

    This film was originally conceived by author Greg Iles as a screenplay (his first) for a production called 24 Hours that for various reasons failed to eventuate. Having thought there was merit in the story, Iles converted his screenplay into a novel. This was then reconverted into a screenplay and made into the film we have here. This is a very interesting and engaging commentary from someone who is very interested in his characters and their committal to the big screen. Here, Greg describes how he ended up writing some of the most important scenes for the film on the set in conjunction with the actors playing the roles he had created. There are many insights into filmmaking here from someone who is essentially not a filmmaker. A note: despite what some sources say, according to the writer, the original title of this film (24 Hours) was not changed because of the similarly-named Keifer Sutherland television thriller. Just why the name was eventually changed is not detailed. Also, this (and presumably the Director's Commentary) were recorded just 1 week before the initial theatrical release of the film. This is the first time that the writer had seen the final cut of the film and he brings many insights into what was changed over the course of editing the film.

Making of Featurette:  Trapped from Within   -   19:44

    An interesting featurette for those who might want to know more about the production of this feature. Whilst not comprehensive in any sense, we do get a bit of insight into how this film was conceived and eventually made into the feature production it became. It features interviews with most of the main persons involved in the film, both in front and behind the camera. Presented full frame with audio in Dolby Digital 2.0.

Deleted Scenes (5) all presented in 1.85:1 without 16x9 enhancement. Audio is in Dolby Digital 2.0.

Alternate Ending   -   :53

(SPOILER ALERT: highlight with mouse to read)     Not so much a different ending as an act of closure. The mother seen in the opening sequence of the film is sitting in front of her television watching the news report of the highway traffic drama and how a kidnapping is thwarted. We get the sense that the mother is able to for the first time to relax in the knowledge that Joe can never again harm her or her son. Presented in 1.85:1 without 16x9 enhancement. Audio is in Dolby Digital 2.0.

Filmographies   Basic and abbreviated filmographies for the main cast and crew

Theatrical Trailer   -   1:45

    A quite good and exciting trailer that really draws the viewer into its web. Plays on all the basic levels that would attract an audience, including the strong female lead (Theron) standing defiant in the face of impossible danger to herself and her loved ones. Pulls all the right strings and makes the film look like a million dollars. A great trailer for an okay film. Presented in 1.85:1 with 16x9 enhancement. Audio is Dolby Digital 5.1.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     This film has already been released in Region 1 in a very similar package to what we have here. There are very few differences of note.

     Region 4 misses out on:

     Region 1 misses out on:

     While the Region 1 disc features a few bonus trailers and an extra language option, these aren't enough to tip the scales in favour of the U.S. version. Our PAL transfer surely must be worth something and the French audio track and subtitles will be of only limited value. I'd probably call this one a draw with a slight nod to the Region 4 disc purely in terms of local affordability and availability.

Summary

     This is one we've seen before, folks, but don't ever let that stop you from seeing this film. In reality, there is very little that is purely original out there and not every film can be Memento. There is plenty of room in the scheme of things for this type of film, a taut psychological thriller with a strongly-knit family pitted against a ruthless villain. You can probably guess the ending, but it is still a bit of easy-going action and fun. A reasonable crowd-pleasing film that many will find enjoyable. Worth a look.

     The video quality is reasonable with a clear image available throughout.

     The audio is reasonable and completely suited to the film.

     For those interested in the film, its genesis and its stars, there are some interesting extras and a quite good Writer's Commentary available.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Sean Bradford (There is no bio.)
Monday, July 21, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDPanasonic DVD RP-82 with DVD-Audio on board, using S-Video output
DisplayBeko TRW 325 / 32 SFT 10 76cm (32") 16x9. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderYamaha RX-V2300 Dolby Digital and dts.
AmplificationYamaha RX-V2300 110w X 6 connected via optical cable and shielded RCA (gold plated) connects for DVD-Audio
SpeakersVAF DC-X Fronts, VAF DC-6 Center, VAF DC-2 Rears, VAF LFE-07 Sub (Dual Amp. 80w x 2)

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