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Kidnap (A PopEntertainment.com Movie Review)

Updated: Mar 18, 2020


KIDNAP (2017)

Starring Halle Berry, Sage Correa, Chris McGinn, Lew Temple, Jason Winston George, Christopher Berry, Aaron Shiver, Kurtis Bedford, Carmella Riley, Brice Fisher, Jennie Ventriss, Timothy Fannon, Andy Wagner, Malea Rose, Jill Alexander, Holly O’Quin and Andy Abele.

Screenplay by Knate Lee.

Directed by Luis Prieto.

Distributed by Aviron Pictures. 94 minutes. Rated R.

Let’s start this off with a poll:

You’re a mom whose six-year-old son was just abducted. You watched him being stuffed into the back seat of an old ratty auto. The abductors ignored your pounding on the car and chasing by foot. You are now chasing them down in your “baby-on-board” decaled mini-van, without a cell phone.

Do you –

A) Maintain your two-second cushion of safety while emotionally bargaining with God?


B) Ram that car off the road, with expletives that only a mama bear knows when fighting for her child, knowing that it’s a busy road, someone will likely stop to see what happened? If you hit them hard enough, the abductors will be distracted enough for you to grab your kid. Whatever injuries he will sustain WILL be treated at a hospital. All should be okay.

If you answered “b,” just stop reading now. Do NOT watch this movie, even if you are being held captive by a single screen on an airplane. If you answered “a,” keep reading. Maybe this movie will pique your interest and this review can help to dissuade you, or even encourage you, to go see it for the few effective thrills that do make you catch your breath.

I wanted to like this movie. I’ve always enjoyed watching Halle Berry on the big screen. As a mom, I felt I would be able to relate to the character’s horror. I wanted to come out of the theater like a ray of sunshine saying “See, that wasn’t half bad!” I wanted to prove the early reviews wrong, to find something of merit.

I can’t.

This 94-minute film – directed by Luis Prieto, written by Knate Lee and featuring Berry as Karla Dyson – was unbelievable and sloppy in every way.  The timeline flow mirrored 1994’s Speed, but with little-to-no character development and distracting-to-the-point-of-humorous plot holes, Kidnap was far less entertaining.

There were a few “shocking” moments that, I admit, causing me to jump from my seat (always a plus in my book). But, overall, a movie that should have been thrilling and dramatic left the audience snickering and commenting like they were watching an old episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000.

What we know about Karla is that she is a conscientious mom who loves her six-year-old son, Frankie (played by Sage Correa). Once we get past the opening title sequence of adorable baby home videos, with poorly edited voice over (really, my gut instinct was to run), we see Karla hard at work. She is a waitress, catering to the requests of her fairly-annoying diners.

This is one of the only believable scenes of the movie; where we hear some of the best dialogue, portraying Karla as kind, patient and strong. Frankie waits at the counter, playing on his tablet, while mom finishes up her shift, waiting on her late replacement.

Karla and Frankie head to the park in their mini-van. On the drive, Frankie is playing with a small recording device. (We later learn this also records his abductor, but it really becomes just another lost detail with no consequence to the movie). Through their play, you see that the pair have a good bond.

Frankie asks if Daddy will be at the park and we realize that the parents are not together. In fact, dad is with another woman now (yet another detail with little consequence to the movie) that Frankie should learn to like. This scene portrays Karla as more than fair; a just, model parent.

At the park, we learn that Frankie likes to hide (again, another detail with minor impact to the movie) and the camera makes us suspicious of the creepy man sitting on the bench (needlessly… he is not our villain).  Karla gets a phone call from her attorney and she steps a few feet away (within loud voice range) from Frankie.

She is clearly distracted by the call as the attorney tells her that her ex is seeking full custody. In the course of approximately ten seconds (after checking in verbally with Frankie twice), Frankie is gone. To add to the drama, Karla’s cell phone has lost power and then smashes as she drops it running in search of her son. She thinks he may be hiding again (see, minor), but the situation escalates quickly and she watches her son forcibly placed into an 80’s green Mustang.

The chase begins. But not too quickly as Karla maintains her cushion of safety as she drives. And not too aggressively as she bargains with God, saying “Don’t let me lose him.”

Mama Bear was more like a teddy bear for the first two-thirds the movie, with the dialogue only earning its R rating with one curse. This is in spite of the clearly insane abductors throwing crap out of their hatchback into the oncoming traffic, including the spare tire, to try to distract Karla from her course. Let me tell you, as a mother, I earn my R rating when I’m late for school pick up, or caught in simple traffic. As a mother, this chase would have been over in ten minutes. A child abduction scenario is NO place for a two-second cushion of safety.

Looking over my notes I can’t count the number of times I wrote “Ram the f&@*% car!” When the abductor wordlessly pointed for Karla to exit the highway, my movie mate said “If she gets off that highway, you need to write a scathing review.”

Karla is the only character that we really meet in this film. We know little about the abductors: they are trashy, mercenary and absolutely crazy, stopping at nothing to take this child. We are briefly introduced to a few minor characters. But really, minor is too generous, as most end up dead or inconsequential to the plot.

To its credit, the movie is fast paced, but the soundtrack is unmemorable at best, irritating and ill-timed at worst. You could tell they were trying to be artsy with the cinematography in some of the chase and crash scenes, but those moments stuck out for trying too hard and overcompensating for the lack of story.

To Ms. Berry’s credit, her tears appear to be real and she finally gives us the action we would expect from a mother in crisis in the last third of the movie. She also captured the audience in the end with people shouting at the screen to make sure a dead man is really dead, to NOT put down the knife, or the shovel. We were all rooting for her by the end, so that is something. I suspect that if I came across this movie while in this last third while flipping through TV channels, I would not turn it off.

I think I am being generous saying I would rate Kidnap as a 3 out of 10.

Bonnie Paul

Copyright ©2017 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: August 3, 2017.

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