“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing” – Edmund Burke
It is highly probable that prior to this film getting the green light, Kidnap seemed like a good idea. It finished shooting before the end of 2014. Relativity Media had originally slated it for release in October of 2015 but kept postponing its release. When Relativity went into bankruptcy, the rights to Kidnap wound up being bought by Aviron Pictures. It was finally released on August 4, 2017.
Halle Berry plays “Karla Dyson.” She’s a single mom working as a waitress while engaged in a struggle for custody of her son “Frankie” (Sage Correa). She is a devoted, doting mom. After some delays caused by a thoughtless co-worker, she is able to take Frankie on a trip to a local carnival.
While they are watching performers on a stage, Karla gets a call from the lawyer representing her in the court battle with her husband. She steps away from Frankie to take the call, using the time-honored call of “Marco” and the response of “Polo” to make sure he hasn’t moved. But after a few minutes she calls out to Frankie and he doesn’t respond.
She returns to where they were sitting and finds only the toy Frankie had been carrying. It is a voice recorder. She grabs it as she looks around frantically for any sign of her son. Finally she sees a large woman forcing Frankie into a turquoise Ford Mustang. Karla runs to her own vehicle and gives chase.
The chase, the “why” behind the kidnapping and the refusal of a mother to give up trying to save her child take up the rest of the thankfully brief running time of the film. There are a few good visuals in the chase scenes and some strong “tension” moments in the last third of the movie. But those, even bolstered by a strong performance from Halle Berry cannot save this movie from itself. If we look at films as formulaic, this would be best described as a Middle School chemistry experiment gone very wrong.
Halle Berry is a fine actress who deserves better than this. The rest of the cast doesn’t have a lot to do. We see very little of the kidnappers outside of their Mustang. There are brief moments where people who try to assist “Karla” in her pursuit interact with her, but the vast majority of the time all we see is a frantic mother who will stop at nothing to rescue her son.
Director Luis Prieto’s last feature film prior to Kidnap was 2012’s Pusher which also had a running time under 90 minutes. It was a remake of a terrific Danish film that failed to capture any of the excellence of the source material. Kidnap is not a remake per se, but a rehashing of a number of clichés from other films about kidnapping. In the end, the only good things about it are the chance to watch a brilliant actress showing off her chops and the fact the ending comes soon. Just not soon enough.
[imdb id = tt1458169]