If you would have been told that Taken would start a whole sub-genre of action films where A-listers execute lethal methods to get their children back, you probably would have thought the idea was too crazy to fly. And yet, here we are, staring down the barrel of more parental justice with Kidnap, a movie that sees Halle Berry taking her turn as the ass-kicker du jour. Which is a shame, because this is truly a movie that squanders her talent, with a laughably bad plot and equally hysterical execution.
Carla (Halle Berry) is a single mother who's about to be put through the ringer. Her son has been kidnapped in the park, and his captors have taken off in a fast car, with reckless regard for road safety. Unfortunately for them, Carla has a pretty strong spirit herself, and through the course of the day, she eventually goes from "scared mother" to "One Bad Mother" (capitalized for emphasis).
The biggest sin that Kidnap commits is the fact that it doesn't commit to one of two lanes that this project could have used to pursue success. This film has moments that are so laughable, all it would have taken was some more deadpan gags and it could have been an effective parody. At the same time, if Kidnap instead went for a hard R action thriller, with some more story and a couple more action sequences, it could have followed in the footsteps of the Liam Neeson movies it looks to emulate.
So what does that leave the audience with? To be honest, Kidnap is a movie that feels like a remake of Taken, by way of the Lifetime Network. It's an amateur hour production that is full of clumsy editing and clunky dialogue, most of which is Halle Berry talking to God, a picture of her son, or just the air around her. If the dialogue doesn't get you to laugh, the decision-making process of Berry's Carla certainly will. There's no real rhyme or reason to most of her actions in trying to get her son back, and where some people would have maybe stopped to try and piece together the information they have, or interrogate someone for more leads, Carla just kind of acts on impulse.
What's worse is that Kidnap decides, in its third act wrap-up, to play the rest of the film in the style of a slasher horror flick. In fact, one scene makes the case for Halle Berry to be cast as the first female Jason Voorhees in a future Friday the 13th remake. By time the film wraps its flawed narrative, it resorts to concluding the story with a lazy round of newscasters filling in story gaps that should have been built into the actual story through exposition. Instead, we the audience are frustrated that most of the questions a movie like Kidnap would normally answer through scenes of actual story beats are left unanswered.
Halle Berry deserve better than Kidnap, and you can see it in every frame of this movie. While the material has failed her, she rarely stops trying to do her best with a bad film. Thinking about the movie this could have been only makes us sad. Thankfully, Berry soon will be seen in Kingsman: The Golden Circle, which hopefully will wash out the taste of Kidnap. Don't see this movie if you're looking for a thrill, but do see it if you're looking for a cheap matinee's worth of laughter.
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