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Textile designer Karen Jennings (Charlize Theron) and her doctor husband Will (Stuart Townsend) are the happily married parents of eight year-old Abby (Dakota Fanning). While Will is attending a medical conference, a gang of kidnappers led by Joe (Kevin Bacon) and Karen (Courtney Love) snatch Abby and demand ransom payment within 24 hours. Left alone to contend with Joe, whose seemingly foolproof plan has already worked successfully on four other couples, Karen attempts to turn the tables on the gang and save her daughter's life.

Review by Richard Kuipers:
Strong performances can't hide the fact that Trapped is an exceedingly nasty piece of work. Is there any redeeming social or entertainment value in watching a mother being sexually and psychologically tormented by a kidnapper who's threatening to kill her child? What do we gain from witnessing the terror of an eight year old girl kept prisoner in an isolated cabin? The 'timeclock' of this thriller is particularly ugly. Will the child live or will this gang carry out their promise to kill her? To make matters even more unpleasant the girl (played by Dakota Fanning from I Am Sam) is also given a life-threatening asthma condition.

Wow, what an inspired device for added suspense. If the sight of a frightened young girl gasping for air while her overweight, middle-aged male minder looks on sounds exciting, this is for you. If you can stand the premise there are some worthwhile performances on show, particularly by Kevin Bacon as the kind of creepy villain he does so well and Charlize Theron who gives her all in the line of duty.

Elsewhere there are effective turns by Pruitt Taylor Vince as adorable Abby's baby-sitter and Courtney Love as the sidekick (named Cheryl Hickey, no less) sent by Bacon to seduce and terrify the father of the child. It's a pity the capable cast is trapped in such a repugnant story and by the ham-fisted direction of Luis Mandoki whose major successes to date have been the sugary sweet Message In A Bottle (1999) and the Meg Ryan domestic drama When A Man Loves A woman (1994).

Armed with a screenplay adapted by Greg Iles from his novel 24 Hours, Mandoki revels in the sickening sensationalism like a guard dog let off its leash. It's marketing potential stung by a spate of real-life kidnappings and school shootings, Trapped crawled out into cinemas in the US with virtually no publicity and no press previews. It disappeared quickly, with a miserable US$7 million take for its $30 million budget. A commensurate box-office fate in Australia would be most appropriate.

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CAST: Charlize Theron, Courtney Love, Stuart Townsend, Kevin Bacon, Pruitt Taylor Vince, Dakota Fanning, Steve Rankin

PRODUCER: Luis Mandoki, Mimi Polk

DIRECTOR: Luis Mandoki

SCRIPT: Greg Iles (based on his novel, 24 Hours)

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Frederick Elmes, Piotr Sobocinski

EDITOR: Jerry Greenberg

MUSIC: John Ottman


RUNNING TIME: 105 minutes


AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: February 20, 2003

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