To say I wasn't expecting much from Trapped is to pretend I was expecting anything at all. A child-abduction thriller starring Kevin Bacon and Charlize Theron, the movie has been all but abandoned by Columbia Pictures, what with David Westerfield having just been sentenced to death for the real-live abduction and murder of Danielle van Dam. But repeat after me, everybody: It's only a movie. And a darn good one, at that. Directed by Luis Mandoki, who's brought us such dreck as Message in a Bottle and When a Man Loves a Woman, Trapped proves just how enjoyable an exploitation flick can be when all the elements magically come together.
"This is a machine that runs on fear," Bacon tells Theron after his cohorts have made off with her daughter, and it's the machine-like precision that makes Trapped so pleasurable early on. He's done this before ' kidnapped a poor little rich kid and put the parents through 24 hours of face-to-face hell so that they barely have a chance to even think about calling the police. And we're supposed to believe he's pretty good at it, but one thing leads to another and, before you know it, Theron is holding a scalpel to Bacon's private parts. Trapped is about as plausible as every other Hollywood thriller that comes down the pipe, but it's made with a lot of conviction and verve.
Much of the verve comes from the camerawork, which keeps us as disoriented as the parents. And much of the conviction comes from the actors, who seem to be having a wonderful time pretending they're having a terrible time. Bacon is as seductively mean as ever, and Theron, although she looks like a '40s screen goddess, manages to convince us that there's a life at stake here. What Bacon and his Dream Team fail to realize until it's way too late is that they've messed with the wrong family. A revenge fantasy that pushes all the familiar buttons, Trapped is nevertheless the real deal, a movie that grabs your attention and won't let go.