Kidnap **

One-dimensional thriller has some decent moments but not enough to make it worth your time. 

Is it worth $10? No 

Halle Berry needs a hit. Not an “X-Men” type hit that she reaps benefits from as part of the ensemble, a legit box office hit based on her star power alone. “The Call” (2013) was successful ($52 million gross on a $13 million budget), but hardly a monster smash. Will “Kidnap” finally be the movie that reasserts her power as an A-list star?

Probably not. It’s too one-dimensional, for one, and predictable for another. It’s not a terrible movie, but it’s also not something that will generate the type of word-of-mouth needed to become a hit. Don’t be surprised if, after the box office tally for “Kidnap” is unspectacular when compared to its $21 million budget, Berry finds it harder to get a green light for one of her star-driven projects.

Berry plays Karla, a waitress and soon-to-be divorced mother of her six year-old son Frankie (Sage Correa). She’s in a custody battle with Frankie’s father, which writer Knate Lee makes sure we know even though it’s only mentioned one time and is never of consequence. Karla also plays “Marco Polo” with Frankie in a public park; those familiar with the game will recognize this as a cheap and uncreative foreboding of the boy’s kidnapping.

Truly, you can skip the first 15 minutes of “Kidnap” and not miss anything. Then Frankie is kidnapped, and things get…better. Not quite “good,” but better. Karla pursues the kidnappers in her minivan with inconsiderate abandon, the kind that is supposed to be okay because she’s a virtuous mom but in reality causes thousands of dollars of damage and likely kills multiple people. At no point does director Luis Prieto want us saying, “come on, lady!” as Karla wreaks havoc on the poor citizens of New Orleans with her reckless driving, and perhaps parents will relate enough to Karla’s desperation to not consider this. But seriously: come on, lady!

The kidnappers (Chris McGinn and Lew Temple) are weak antagonists because  aside from money they’re given no motivation to do what they’re doing. So they’re terrible people for the sake of avarice, which is hardly original. There’s no subplot, and none of the loose ends or supporting characters introduced in the exposition have any relevance in the conclusion. This isn’t just a thin storyline, it’s downright frail.

That said, it has entertainment value. The initial pursuit of the kidnappers has some creative twists, and it’s interesting to see Karla talking to herself because that clues us in to what she’s thinking. Some of the hand-to-hand combat is edited a bit too quick, but overall the action is handled well enough and the story takes logical turns that do not hinder its credibility. For a movie that was shot in 2014 and was on the shelf for three years, one could rightfully expect this to be much worse.

Thankfully for its sake, “Kidnap” is at least mediocre. The problem is mediocre isn’t good enough.

Did you know?
Berry’s daughter, who’s the same age as Sage Correa, was on set during production, which made it easy for Berry to get into character as she imagined her own daughter being kidnapped.

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