[Screen It]


(2017) (Halle Berry, Chris McGinn) (R)

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Suspense/Thriller: A woman chases after a couple that has kidnapped her six-year-old son.
Karla Dyson (HALLE BERRY) is a single mom and diner waitress who's worried about losing primary custody of her six-year-old son, Frankie (SAGE CORREA), to her ex. But that pales in comparison to what happens when she's on the phone with her attorney -- strangers Margo (CHRIS McGINN) and Terry (LEW TEMPLE) kidnapping Frankie and driving off with him from a park. Frantic and dropping her cell phone in her sudden attempt to stop them, Karla races to her van and gives chase. What follows is her trying not to lose sight of them, all while doing what she can to draw the attention of anyone else who might be able to help her and hoping that the kidnappers won't harm her boy.
OUR TAKE: 3.5 out of 10
There are times as a movie reviewer when certain parts of a review feel like a chore to write up. Most of the time that's related to the artistic review of mediocre movies as there's nothing more boring than trying to come up with enough synonyms of, yes, words such as boring and mediocre to fill a review. Sometimes, however, it's in trying to write up the plot summary for films filled with convoluted multiple storylines and enough characters to field a football team.

"Kidnap" is not one of those films. There are only four significant characters and just one of those -- the protagonist played by Halle Berry -- gets the lion's share of screen time. And the plot doesn't get much simpler than this: A woman tries to chase down and rescue her boy from two lowlifes who've kidnapped him.

That's it. Really. We first see Karla Dyson (Berry) as an overworked, single waitress who takes her 6-year-old son (Sage Correa) to a carnival at a local park. Despite repeatedly checking on him (via the old "Marco - Polo" exchange) while on a phone call about parental custody of the child, he disappears.

She goes into panic mode and then spots a woman (Chris McGinn) stuffing her boy into an old Mustang and speeding off with her husband or boyfriend (Lew Temple ) behind the wheel. Karla then races to her minivan and gives chase, albeit without her dropped phone and thus with no way to call the police.

That lack of a device and anyone else in the vehicle with her means that she does a lot of talking to herself. Unfortunately, screenwriter Knate Lee (and/or anyone who monkeyed with the script) takes that opportunity to deliver on the nose dialogue that feels exactly like that when not otherwise often coming off as stilted. It's all of the "thinking aloud" variety, but it simply isn't done well and ended up having our preview audience laughing at certain lines -- and other behavior -- when I seriously doubt that was director Luis Prieto's intention or desired reaction.

Yes, it's one of those films that's so mediocre to bad that about the only way to watch it is with a big, responsive crowd that can get into its overall badness. Ours was game for the task and thus made the flick far more entertaining than it should have been, and certainly how it would be received if watching it by yourself on TV at home.

Which is a shame because there's obviously some potential present, be that in some sort of non-post apocalyptic take on "Mad Max" where our waitress mom would become a domestic road warrior and take on and take out the villains. Or it could have been a reverse version of "Duel" where the protagonist would be the unstoppable pursuer.

With that film, Steven Spielberg managed to take a similarly stripped down plot (tractor trailer chases motorist) and make it suspenseful, but there's little of that quality here despite an awful lot of time behind the wheel chasing down the bad guys. The film eventually gets off the road and ends up in a farmhouse, but the results aren't much better. There's eventually the obligatory villains get their comeuppance moments, but even that isn't that satisfactory.

Had all involved gone for full-on camp in terms of an exploitation type movie experience, things might have turned out differently, which also would have held true had we known much of anything about any of the characters. As a result, "Kidnap" only ends up kidnapping our time rather than our hearts, mind or interest. It rates as a 3.5 out of 10, only because it was slightly and occasionally entertaining watching this with a responsive crowd that wallowed in its badness.

Reviewed July 31, 2017 / Posted August 4, 2017

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