DIRECTOR: Luis Prieto
WRITER: Knate Lee
Karla Dyson is a waitress and mother. When she promises to take her young son to the local fair, she has to take a phone call from her lawyer regarding the custody of her child. In that couple of minutes that she has her back turned, her young son is kidnapped and thrown into a car. Tracking down the kidnappers to the carpark. Karla must stay with her son's captors in a race against time. If she is unable to keep up with them, it's possible she may lose her son forever.
Four years ago, Halle Berry starred in an entertaining thriller titled The Call. In the film, she had played a 911 operator who receives a call from a teenage girl who has been kidnapped and put into the boot of a car. This year, she stars in a movie where she plays a mother whose own child is kidnapped and put into a car. This time, she is on the other end of the line. She is now the one chasing down the captors, trying to retrieve her child in a race against time. While similar, the two couldn't be further apart in terms of quality.
I will start my review by saying what Kidnap got right. The movie takes only minutes to get to the kidnapping and from that moment on, the film never slows down. To call this movie boring would be a lie on my part. This movie never once stops moving for even a minute. Kidnap feels like it's filmed in such a frenetic way, that we feel like we are right there in the passenger seat with Karla as she speeds across motorways and causes highway pile-ups. For that, the movie deserves a point or two in my book.
Now we get to the downside of Kidnap. My first massive problem with this film is that everything that happens in the movie is completely preposterous. It's just so absurd and ridiculous. I love a good highway chase scene. God, even I can admit that I love the Bad Boy II and Matrix Reloaded chase scenes. But for a movie where a distraught mother spends most of the hour and a half pursuing a couple of kidnappers, it seems that as things escalate, it keeps just getting more unintentionally hilarious and silly as the movie goes on.
What hinders Kidnap from being an entertaining or just plain good film is the choices made by Halle Berry's character. The movie has so many moments where Karla would have been able to make a decision that would have put an end to her child's captors and been able to get her child back. As someone who doesn't have kids. I am thinking from the point of someone who would have just chosen to do things that would have killed them and got my kid back. Instead, she squanders every single opportunity to take that chance.
We have a scene where the male captor gets out of the now parked car, runs towards Karla and tires himself out. He's also holding the flick knife that he had just used as a threatening tool to keep her away. She is sitting behind the wheel of a van. Instead of running him over, she stops the car, gets out and throws her purse at him and gives him the pin to all her accounts. This one scene could have ended him. She could have then kept going and taken out the female captor who would have no doubt rushed to her husband's aid and forgotten all about the kid. It's many scenes like this that ruin this film from being even slightly believable.
Kidnap is terribly edited. This movie has the honor of having the worst editing of a car chase that I think I've ever seen. A scene where Karla is speeding down the highway, slams on her breaks and reverses the car to go off the off-ramp feels so out of place that they feel like they edited trailer footage into a movie. Flashes and skips in time completely took me out of this scene. It's like they didn't have the budget to show all the car crashes in the film. So they flipped one car early on and the rest are all edited in ways that you don't see the full carnage on display.
The same needs to be said about the violence. The violence is edited in a way that we barely see any blood or any of the death scenes. Every time a character is involved in a horrifying smash or people are hit by cars, it's handled in a way where it looks to be edited down to get the tamest rating possible. Yet, Karla is seen yelling 'fuck you' on several occasions. If you are getting an R rating, why not give us some Carmageddon type of collateral damage? Where a movie is relying on high amounts of tension and suspense, why not deliver on the violence as well. It all seemed very odd. The vision for this film seemed like it had a bit of studio interference in it.
I think the third act of the film gives us a story that we've seen many times before in these captive/kidnapping thrillers. The movie doesn't feel original or like it breaks any new ground. The reveal of what these captors are doing in the movie is also revealed in the trailer for the film. So the reveal of a worldwide child slave ring isn't shocking. The movie also handles this in a way that we are told by a news report and it ends. This could have been handled in a way that sheds a light on this disturbing crime and it feels like a vehicle that needs to show Halle Berry as the action star.
Lastly, we come to the acting. This is the Halle Berry show. You won't find any other big named stars in this film. This is us spending an hour and a half with a panicked and frantic Halle Berry. This is her chance to show us that she still has the chops to headline a film. While I think she is a solid actress, here she is chewing the scenery. At times she is hilariously bad and I won't be surprised if the Razzie Awards sling a nomination her way. I think it's undeserved but she is very over the top in Kidnap.
DEATH TOLL: 2
BLOOD AND GORE:
- Many people in cars are involved in a highway pile-up.
- A police officer is crushed between two speeding cars.
- A woman is thrown out of a speeding minivan.
- A woman is repeated hit in the head and strangled.
- A woman breaks her leg when she is hit by a car.
- A woman breaks her nose when her face hits the airbag.
- A man is injured when another car slams into his car.
- Someone gets their arm broken in a minivan door.
- A man dies and breaks his back when the van is reversed into a tree.
- A woman is drowned in a lake.
- A dog is killed by a shotgun blast.
- A kidnapper is hit in the head with a shovel.
It appears that Halle Berry is trying to be that go to actress for kidnapping thrillers. Two in the last four years. Kidnap is sadly not a high point in her career. This is not Catwoman bad but this is far from her best work. A thriller that never slows down and is never once dull is let down by a terrible script, character decisions, and horrendous editing. The sort-of-twist is also revealed in the trailer for the film. Halle Berry really tries her best but can't rise above the below average material.