Halle Berry, realizing that’s she’s no longer the huge acting draw she once was, has at least found (and embraced) her niche: “Taken” style movies. “Kidnap” is so similar to her 2013 film “The Call” that it’s easy to confuse the two. Berry is great at playing an unhinged woman out for vengeance after a child abduction, and she’s believable and good enough in this one.
When Karla’s (Berry) six year old son Frankie (Sage Correa) is nabbed at the park, the determined mother chases the kidnappers through New Orleans in her red minivan. This mama bear is relentless and won’t stop until she rescues her little boy. The majority of the film’s budget had to be spent on car crashes because there are dozens within the film’s first 15 minutes.
There’s plenty of nail-biting action and even more truly ridiculous situations (I refuse to believe the absent police presence in the movie), but the weak story has enough creative “what would you do in this situation?” moments that it remains interesting. Karla makes some clever decisions that are balanced out with just as many really, really stupid ones. The sometimes violent twists and turns keep the momentum going and once the kid is taken, the film never slows down and speeds along at 80 miles per hour until the satisfying ending.
This isn’t to say “Kidnap” is a great movie because it’s not, but it 100% delivers what it promises and is a strong entry in its genre. Its brief run time (around 90 minutes) does the story many favors because it oddly never becomes tiring. Plenty of surprises are thankfully thrown into the mix of fruitless dialogue that states the obvious (“I dropped my shotgun shells!” and “My boy’s been taken!“) and campy, laugh-out-loud overacting (watch for Berry’s unintentionally hilarious bit in the police station).
Yeah, it’s loud and dumb, so don’t go to the theater expecting high art. But Berry gives it her all, screaming and wailing and swerving her way through the oddly compelling material (especially when she becomes a one-woman killing machine). Switch off your brain because this is trashy, mindless entertainment at its best.