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Thursday, Aug. 3, 2017 12:26 am

“Kidnap”: An Insulting, Exploitive Exercise

The issue of child abduction is hardly one to be made light of, yet Luis Prieto’s Kidnap uses the subject as a catalyst for a Death Wish-like vehicle for actress Halle Berry.  Stupid to an insulting degree with plot holes and lapses in logic that defy all reason, the film shamelessly exploits this subject, a parent’s worst nightmare and a tragedy that befalls over 50,000 families each year in the United States, for the sole purpose of providing a cheap, vicarious entertainment consisting of series of poorly shot action scenes and car chase sequences.

Karla (Halle Berry) is in hot pursuit in Kidnap.
An Aviron Pictures release.

Berry is Karla Dyson, the world’s most beautiful greasy spoon waitress trying to raise her irritatingly cute six year-old son Frankie (Sage Correa) on her own.  One day the pair pays a visit to the zoo and while there, mom takes an important phone call and wanders away from her son, only to come back to find him missing.  Frantically searching for him, Karla has the good fortune of catching a glimpse of him being forced into a car and gives chase.

The rest of the film is one long pursuit towards narrative, as well as logical, dead ends.  Much of Karla’s illogical actions early on can be excused by the character’s expected sense of panic over the situation. However, once things calm down, many opportunities present themselves in which the abductors could be stopped but aren’t.  You’re likely to find yourself yelling at the screen, “Run them off the road!”  or “Lead the cops to them!” or other sage pieces of advice.  As written by Knate Lee, this is the sort of film that requires that most of the characters act like idiots throughout or there simply wouldn’t have a feature-length story to tell.  Nope, this movie would have a running time of about 25 minutes if any of the characters had a half a brain in their heads but, of course, that length wouldn’t qualify it for theatrical release.

Karla (Halle Berry) and her son Frankie (Sage Correa) hide out in Kidnap.
An Aviron Pictures release.

Kidnap is the sort of film that plays the audience for fools, depending on the viewer to accept everything they’re shown at face value, all the while hoping their emotional investment in the characters will cloud their better judgment so that they never question the logic of what they’re seeing, That the audience I saw the film with was quietly tittering at some of the movie’s more ridiculous moments gave me some hope.  Today’s viewers are a savvy bunch, far too savvy to take a piece of trash like Kidnap as a serious expose or dramatic entertainment.

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