BOSTON — 'Entrapment" isn't just up to the minute. It's actually ahead of the minute, setting its high-tech suspense story on the eve of the millennium, when a financial computer adjustment opens a window for the main characters to pull off a multibillion-dollar heist.
This plot idea is timely, but it's the only forward-looking aspect of the picture, which is a textbook example of what used to be called the caper movie.
Look at bygone specimens of this breed, from "Rififi" and "Big Deal on Madonna Street" to many of the James Bond adventures that made Sean Connery a superstar, and you'll find a steady mix of clever schemes, offbeat locations, and characters who spend as much energy interacting with each other as carrying out their plan. That sums up "Entrapment," which relies on so many old caper formulas it could almost be called a nostalgia picture.
Connery plays an aging crook who specializes in stealing priceless works of art, and Catherine Zeta-Jones plays a young insurance investigator dogging his trail. Revealing more of the story would spoil some of its uncountable twists, but as usual in this sort of yarn, characters tend to be duplicitous, and circumstances are the opposite of what they seem.
The movie's main charm comes from Connery's smooth acting, and Zeta-Jones makes an appealing impression. Will Patton overplays as her corporate boss, as do Maury Chaykin and Ving Rhames in smaller roles, suggesting that director Jon Amiel hasn't yet learned how to coax persuasive performances from larger-than-life screen personalities. He moves the action along vigorously, though, shaping time-tested ingredients into diverting entertainment.
*Rated PG-13; contains violence, rough language, and sexual innuendo.