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‘Kidnap’ (review)

Produced by Lorenzo di Bonaventura,
Gregory Chou, Erik Howsam, Joey Tufaro,
Taylar Wesley, Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas

Screenplay by Knate Gwaltney
Directed by Luis Prieto
Starring Halle Berry, Sage Correa,
Lew Temple, Chris McGinn

 

Sometimes you have to wonder how a movie gets catapulted to the big screen.

There are certain stories that are done a disservice when told at a one-story high scale.

That’s the case with Kidnap, so much so that immediately after viewing I thought of all the TBS Sunday afternoons that I will be spending watching this minimally ambitious movie on a minimally sized screen.

Halle Berry stars as Karla Dyson, a single mother who is devoted to her young son. When he is abducted and she sees him disappear into a car, everything in her says to fight back and take this chase into her own hands. As Karla races to find her child’s kidnappers, she proves that nothing is as determined as a mother separated from her child.

One of the reasons that this movie stands out is because of its acting (or lack thereof). When this type of story is presented, we’re usually met with the trope of the superhero mom who is given immense strength, agility, nerves of steel and complete presence of mind in an unthinkable situation. Kidnap shines in that it is clear that Karla is reacting in the moment and building this plane as it flies. She hyperventilates, talks to herself, and panics constantly. In other words, she behaves exactly as you would imagine a common parent would when faced with their greatest and deepest fear.

Unfortunately for the film, Luis Prieto is possibly out of his depth in making a thriller stay at engaging for even an hour and a half. There are many times during the first two-thirds of the movie where it just seems like you are watching an extended car chase masquerading as a feature film. The last third of the movie is pretty rewarding as she grows closer to overtaking the kidnappers, but I cannot honestly say that it is worth the first two-thirds of the movie, which dragged on interminably.

Halle Berry isn’t the strongest actress out there, but she plays this role very well. The majority of the movie is focused on her in her car, so she has a lot of lifting to do in order to tap the emotions of the audience. Her ability to come off as meek but drawing from a sudden and ill explained sense of resolve does give an air of reality and relatability. Of course, sometimes this portrayal gets overly campy and looks more like a Rescue 911 reenactment. That is due more to the awkward pacing and simplistic script than Berry’s acting chops. Only those behind the camera can take claim for the several glaring continuity errors that will take an avid moviegoer out of the experience and wonder how such general items could be missed.

The threat of your child disappearing is a very real one, and Kidnap does the minimal work of capturing that heart-gripping fear. I just wish it did a better job of gripping my attention.

 

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