An intense but often ridiculous thriller about a mother attempting to get her son back after he is taken, Kidnap at least has Halle Berry doing her best with what she’s given and some good action
Karla Dyson(Halle Berry) is a hard-working single mother who makes ends meet by working as a waitress in a New Orleans diner. She deeply cares for her young son Frankie( Sage Correa) , but is currently going through a custody battle with her soon to be ex husband. One day after finishing a shift, she takes Frankie to the park. After taking a call from solicitors speaking about her estranged husband wanting custody, she can’t find Frankie anywhere. Scared out of her mind, she begins frantically searching for him. Then she sees a man and woman( Lew Temple and Chris McGinn)bundling her son into their car. She attempts to stop the car but falls and loses her phone. With adrenaline kicking in as well as panic, Karla jumps in her Minivan and tails the kidnappers across the highway. Without access to a phone, Karla attempts to get the attention of people passing by, but this doesn’t register much so she’s seemingly in a desperate chase on her own. After an altercation with the kidnappers who try to mislead her and them switching cars, Karla attempts to get some help from authorities that she finally passes. But when this takes too long and seems fruitless, she gets back in her minivan and vows to get her son back, no matter how long or how desperate her search could be. Because Karla’s not giving up on her mission and nothing is going to stand in her way as the determination and fire within her starts to rise.
Director Luis Prieto starts well enough with brief exposition before going headlong into the action, which is done rather effectively. It all just falls apart afterwards as it tries to be and surely knows that it can’t be that, stranding Kidnap as not exactly stellar work from Luis Prieto. There are some intense sequences to be found in Kidnap amid the often boneheaded events happening(such as Karla causing just as much destruction as she can in her chase to find her son and the fact that we have no real mystery of who the kidnappers are). The short running time at least makes things move along quickly and a little tension can be gleaned in fast moving sequences of pursuit that have something to praise. It’s the execution that renders quite a lot of Kidnap to be incomprehensible and laughable. The camerawork and visuals try to be arty but it comes off as headache inducing and jarring. I’m all for quick cuts and some polish, but not when it happens all the time and at the expense of my eyes. Kidnap is definitely a B-movie/exploitation movie on the road with the attempted gloss of a higher effort. It could have been a trashy little schlock fest of the guilty pleasure kind, but it can’t even sustain or manage that as it aims for status of an unreachable kind. The music score is all over the place which seems in keeping with the diminishing results of the movie.
The main thing that Kidnap has going for it is Halle Berry. She turns in a committed turn with force and verve . The character she plays makes some bad decisions, but Berry makes the part still have its moments of greatness as she plays both the terror and the sheer will to continue of the part. Berry previously starred in another film about a kidnapping , The Call, which while nothing brand spanking new, was miles better than this. Still Halle Berry throws herself into the part and at least remains watchable as a crusading mother discovering her inner fury and maternal strength. It’s not her finest work, but her star quality and acting chops sure elevate a pretty lacklustre movie. It’s just sad to see someone of her talent in such a bad movie but at least she represent some of the glue that holds it precariously together. Lew Temple and Chris McGinn don’t fare especially well as the kidnappers, primarily because they don’t have anything to work with. There’s no sense of depth, or suspense with either because the characterisation is so lazy. Sage Correa plays the kidnapped son and is mainly required to be scared, which he does as effectively as he can.
Preposterous and as it may be as a thriller, Kidnap has Halle Berry at the centre that counts for something and makes Kidnap watchable.