Updated: Feb 4, 2020
Karla (Oscar winner Halle Berry), a single mother, takes her son to the park. While she is distracted with a phone call, six year old Frankie (Sage Correa) is kidnapped. After seeing him get put in a car, Karla hops in her mini-van and spends the rest of the movie trying to rescue her son. Unfortunately, despite bringing some fire to the role, Berry cannot rescue this movie.
Kidnap is a ludicrously plotted, contrived thriller lacking in any suspense. Even factoring in its mercifully short, 76 minute running time (not including the end credits) it feels padded. There are several scenes where Berry’s character tries to get help to no avail that could very easily have been left out. On top of that, the villains are never really introduced as characters and their motives are never adequately explored by the barely written screenplay. It is hard to get behind the heroine’s quest when her antagonists feel like nothing more than a plot device used to set up some car crashes.
The best thing about the movie is Berry (who also served as a producer). She spends most of it as the only actor on the screen. For much of that time she is talking to herself in the front seat of her car while she chases the kidnappers (she loses her phone at the beginning of the film, otherwise the movie would be about ten minutes long). That actually sounds bizarrely entertaining to me, but there’s no entertainment to be found because her dialogue is a bunch of boring clichés wedged in between badly staged action sequences.
Kidnap, which was originally scheduled for release in October of 2015, is absolutely not worth the wait (its original distributer, Relativity Media, delayed its release three times due to financial problems. Eventually, they filed for bankruptcy and Kidnap’s distribution rights were bought by Aviron Pictures). It is not embarrassingly (or entertainingly) bad. It is just idiotic, ridiculous, pointless and a huge waste of Halle Berry’s talents. Sometimes her character is a determined, and terrified, mother in over her head. At others, she is a full-fledged action movie heroine with trailer-worthy sound bites for dialogue.
It is one thing to say that Halle Berry signed on for a film that turned out to be really bad. Things like that happen to good actors all the time. But she was also one of the producers which means she specifically wanted to make this movie. Maybe she thought that making a fast-paced chase thriller would be fun. Or maybe the original screenplay was far better than it comes off on screen. Either way, her performance is the only thing about Kidnap I can even come close to saying something positive about.
Kidnap feels more like a videogame than a movie. As a videogame, it may have been mildly fun in a Grand Theft Auto kind of way. As a movie, it is one of the worst of the year.
¾ out of 5
Halle Berry as Karla Dyson
Sage Correa as Frankie
Chris McGinn as Margot
Lew Temple as Terry
Directed by Luis Prieto
Written by Knate Lee