Movie Review: Kidnap

I’d like to feel sorry for Halle Berry, I really would. The Oscar winner (MONSTER’S BALL) can’t seem to catch a break these days, starring in one mediocre movie after another. Her track record since her heydays of the early 2000s has not been good and I’m sure she doesn’t command the same salary that she used to get back in the day. (She reportedly received US$14 million to star in 2004’s CATWOMAN, a film that failed to breakeven.) Unfortunately, with her latest foray, KIDNAP, a film that she co-produced, neither her star power nor her bank account should expect to see any improvement.

In KIDNAP, Berry plays Karla Dyson, a soon-to-be-divorced diner waitress and mother to 6-year-old Frankie (Sage Correa), living somewhere near the bayous of Louisiana. After Frankie gets scooped up in the park by a pair of rednecks driving a late model Ford Mustang GT (in blue-grey, not green, as Karla keeps saying), Karla decides to put her minivan’s pedal to the metal and chase after the kidnappers. For the next hour or so, we watch Berry in close up after close up as Karla scowls, grunts and screams her way along the state’s highways and byways leading to the ultimate confrontation with the perps.

To Berry’s credit, she puts everything into this role but, sadly, this is a one-note movie that will have you palming your face more than once as Karla has more lives than the proverbial cat and makes some pretty dumb decisions along the way. Unlike the film SPEED (a film that Berry turned down, by the way), there is no tension whatsoever as the two cars race along the interstate causing vehicular mayhem in the process. To try to amp up the audience’s adrenaline levels, director Luis Prieto shows Karla’s speedometer jump from 40 to 80 miles per hour multiple times. Call me when it hits 120. As juvenile as the direction is, however, the writing by Knate Lee (the upcoming THE NEW MUTANTS), is even worse. In one scene, Karla trades a very good weapon of self-defence for a very poor one. When she does, you just know that the good weapon is going to end up in the hands of the bad people, which it ultimately does. Equally ridiculous is Karla repeatedly ramming the kidnappers’ car with her own while her son, who most likely is not wearing a seatbelt, is sitting inside. It certainly got my audience laughing.

Mercifully, the film is only 95 minutes long but it could have worked if it had been shot in real-time. Instead, we’re given insanely long sequences that have little to do with moving the story forward. That would explain why the home video version is only 82 minutes long.

KIDNAP is a complete dog of a film. Do not waste your time or money on it!

Watch the review recorded on Facebook Live in RTHK Radio 4’s studio on Thursday, January 11th at 8:30 am HK time!

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