Kidnap (2017)

  • Time: 94 min
  • Genre: Thriller
  • Director: Luis Prieto
  • Cast: Halle Berry, Sage Correa, Lew Temple, Dana Gourrier


The film is a heart-stopping action thriller following a mother (Halle Berry) who will stop at nothing to rescue her kidnapped son.


  • The completely inescapable takeaway from the first season of Ryan Murphy’s Feud is that it’s hard out there for actresses of a certain age. Whether one is a multiple Oscar winner like Bette Davis or a hugely popular star like Joan Crawford, quality roles for women become more and more scarce as one grows older. Halle Berry is both an Oscar winner and star and, even at her prime, she wasn’t exactly getting the types of roles that truly showcased her abilities. Her latest vehicle, Kidnap, doesn’t look to turn that tide anytime soon; the constant reshuffling of its release date seems to indicate a lack of faith on its distributors’ part. Too bad, since Kidnap – a hybrid variation of Taken and Steven Spielberg’s Duel – is actually a solid B-movie, one whose pluck ends up being cause for admiration.

    It starts off generically enough. Karla Dyson (Berry) is a single mother working as a harried diner waitress just trying to get through her shift so that she can have a day at the amusement park with her six-year-old son Frankie (Sage Correa). She appears to be on the losing end of a custody battle with her ex-husband, who works in real estate and whose new girlfriend is a pediatrician. A phone call from her lawyer provides enough distraction for Frankie to be kidnapped in broad daylight. Karla spots her child being ushered into a car and, after dropping her phone on the ground in her panic, hops into her car and gives chase.

    Here is where Kidnap proves its worth as the majority of the film is focused on the chase between the desperate but determined Karla and the mysterious couple who have abducted her son. Initially, the car chase is like any other car chase – generic pounding music, infrequently frantic editing, sustained fear from Berry – but then it keeps going and going and going and, unlike most films of this ilk, ends up pulling one in rather than numbing one over. Knate Lee’s screenplay is relatively lean – though not without plot holes and other bits of ridiculousness – and there are moments that both border on laughable and tense. One has the male abductor (Lew Temple), whose looks are just this side of redneck, emerging from his car, flicking a switchblade, and running after Karla who hurriedly returns to her car and starts driving in reverse. Just when one thinks he’s about to go all T-1000 on her, he starts huffing and puffing and holding on to his knees to catch his breath, which gives her time to step on the accelerator and start chasing him. There are a handful of other such scenes that beggar belief yet deliver on the thrills.

    Kidnap works better than it has any right to – one, because Berry unquestionably gives it her all and, two, because director Luis Prieto (best known for remaking Nicolas Winding Refn’s 1996 debut Pusher) does well in maintaining the suspense.

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  • “You took the wrong kid”. Darn right. You tell em’ Halle Berry. Berry plays Karla Dyson, a divorced mom whose tyke gets snatched up from her at a local carnival. Dyson then grudgingly pursues the captors in 2017’s Kidnap (my latest write-up).

    Filmed nearly three years ago, this 95-minute pic was just released this summer. In Hollywood, shelving a movie for that amount of time is never a good sign. Here’s the thing though: Kidnap is happily an exception to the rule. Heck, I kinda liked it.

    Now granted, Kidnap is no masterpiece. It’s not readily memorable nor does it make any sort of bold statement. Still, Berry’s latest is tight and taut. It’s the not-so-little B-movie that could. It’s also a thriller that holds you in its grip right from the 10-minute mark to the end credits.

    Kidnap, which makes good use of Louisiana locales, slightly reminded me of Breakdown and Steven Spielberg’s Duel. Breakdown had Kurt Russell trying to retrieve his abducted wife. Kidnap has Halle Berry trying to get back her abducted son. Both flicks take place over a similar period of time (1 day and 1 night), both flicks are undeniably nail-biting, and both flicks have virtually the same running time. Breakdown may be more explanatory with its storytelling. Also, Breakdown may be more involving with its characters. Regardless, Kidnap is a decent companion piece to Russell’s 1997 foray into bumpkin darkness. It’s worth a surrendered recommendation.

    Kidnap’s main hook, is that the whole film is literally one singular car chase. My man William Friedkin would be tuckered out just trying to shoot what’s going on here. Kidnap’s editing done by Avi Youabian (TV’s The Walking Dead, The Call), is distinctive with induced attention to detail (I love the speedometer closeups). Vehicles loudly smash up against each other, people die (or appear to die), and cops as usual, are clueless.

    Star Halle Berry gets put through the ringer in Kidnap. As the movie concludes, she appears as though she has aged twenty years. Kudos to the makeup department for giving Berry that look of going through hell and then coming out the other end exhausted. Her performance isn’t award- worthy mind you (Berry’s Karla talks to herself a lot and it’s pretty annoying). However, she tries her darnedest to let the audience feel her nerve endings, her relentless fervor, and her body language which shows that she’s solely hopped up on adrenaline.

    In conclusion, Halle Berry is basically the only trouper Kidnap focuses on. Everyone else is sort of faceless, nameless, and pushed to the side. Bottom line: Kidnap doesn’t rely on buildup, elaborate plot workings, or moments of silence. It’s a rushed, genre exercise meant to take you on a wild ride and then quickly drop you off. I’ll give it three stars as sustenance-free entertainment.

    Rating: 3 out of 4 stars

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  • “Okay, God, I know I never pray to you unless somebody is sick.
    Or somebody’s dying or in an airplane.
    But, God, please don’t let me lose him.”

    Do you remember “The Call” from a few years ago, with Halle Berry as a member of a 911 call center who was constantly talking to the victim of a kidnapping case. A victim who was locked up in the trunk of the kidnapper’s car. It was a story full of nonsense but it was terribly exciting and unnerving. Here it’s about something similar. Only now, Halle Berry is the one whose son is kidnapped by an unknown, after which she starts to chase the kidnappers with her car. Ultimately, this film is nothing more than one long car chase with Karla driving her burgundy red SUV. I can already tell you this. It’s also a thrilling movie. But unfortunately, it’s also full of nonsense and irritating developments.

    “Kidnap” is not only about kidnapping innocent kids, but it’s also about the desperation and perseverance of a mother. Halle Berry shows that she wants to rescue her son out of the hands of the kidnappers at any cost. But that’s also the only positive thing. The way she demonstrates that it’s better not to mess with a raging mother who protects her child frantically. Furthermore, it was simply a terribly annoying film. I already mentioned that it can be exciting sometimes, but unfortunately these exciting moments were ruined by totally nonsensical events. I’ve never looked at a screen so many times with disbelief and saying “Oh come on” to myself regularly. Even my wife tried to calm me down and prepared a soothing tea for me.

    Admittedly, I guess the main characters just needed to follow the script. The subject is fairly straightforward and leaves little room for improvisation. Kidnapping a child is the central theme and that’s it. The course of the story therefore is already predetermined. That’s self-evident. But the denouement being so predictable, was a bit too much. But what really pissed me of, was the behavior of Halle Berry. I’m sorry, but if my son was in that car I was chasing, I wouldn’t be driving like a stressed out grandmother. And believe me. If I had the chance, those kidnappers would see tire marks on their foreheads even weeks later. And if someone from a police force drives past you, wouldn’t it be smart to ram the alleged car of the road? Sometimes it annoys me what people do in a movie. In “Kidnap“, it was the other way around. Here I was annoyed about what she didn’t do. I’m not blaming Halle Berry. I guess she was just following the script.

    So, you want to see a not so very intelligent film which sometimes seems exciting? A film with virtually no interaction between the different characters? And the protagonist constantly performing monotonous monologues as she pursues the perpetrators. You don’t mind if the intervention of the police forces seems so indifferent while the motorway is being recreated into a junkyard? And finally, you don’t have kids yourself? Well, that means “Kidnap” is something for you. Fortunately I didn’t bother to watch it on the big screen.

    PS. One last warning. Are you a fan of action-packed, lightning-fast car chases? Well, forget about that here. It’s perhaps a mega-long chase, but this one is at snail’s pace. It looks like a road-rage-course for seniors.

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