In just a split second your life can change forever. According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, roughly 800,00 children are reported missing every year in the United States alone. To make that easier to comprehend, that’s about 2,000 a day! A mother’s worst fear is losing her own child and that’s the basis for the new thriller titled, Kidnap, which stars Halle Berry (The Call) as a mother whose son is taken. Directed by Luis Prieto (2012 remake of Pusher), Kidnap is a film that may appear as cheesy to many, but for me, it was a pulse-pounding thriller that knows exactly what it is and works quite effectively.
Karla Dyson (Berry) is a waitress who enjoys being with her son and takes him to a local carnival for a nice sun-filled day in Louisiana. Despite being in the middle of a custody battle with her estranged husband, Karla moves all that aside to spend time with her son Frankie (Sage Correa). She is distracted for just a moment to take a phone call to discuss her custody case with her lawyer. Afterwards she looks for her son but is unable to find him. Becoming worried and asking other people if they’ve seen her son, she finds his toy voice recorder. Karla then runs back to the parking lot and sees someone dragging little Frankie towards a green third generation Mustang.
Karla then runs to her car, a red Chrysler Town and Country, and starts a long pursuit thereafter. The car chase that ensues is intense and hearing Karla assure herself that she won’t let anyone take her son was something that Berry did a good job at. From the car chases and crashes, Karla is one tough mother who won’t give up. There’s even one scene when she loses the Mustang and seeks help at a local police station to report her son missing. She’s realizes that everything is taking too long and sees a series of posters of missing children. She can’t wait and won’t.
Based on what I saw, I wished that I’d bought a Town and Country. That van sure takes a beating from being crashed into multiple times by vehicles, smashed by a tree, and side-swiped the walls of a tunnel several times at full speed. Karla’s pursuit of the kidnappers is what the film is about, and she won’t stop. There’s a scene where the kidnappers (Lew Temple from Unstoppable and Chris McGinn from Sight Unseen) stop and Karla steps out of her van and makes threats that she won’t stop if her son is in their car. While the audience may laugh at that, I found myself to be cheering her on. The film doesn’t give a reason as to the motives of the kidnappers and I felt that the film didn’t have to. It’s quite simple: “What will a mother do to save the life of her child?” Halle Berry isn’t a female star who doesn’t a tough persona such as Ellen Ripley, Sarah Conner, or even Brian Mills; but why should she? In Kidnap, Berry plays a mother who has no special skills or training to attack the bad guys. She’s just a regular woman whose life changes in the blink of an eye.
Verdict 4 out of 5
The direction of Prieto and the screenplay by Knate Lee (X-Men: The New Mutant) is simple and not complicated. Sure, the final act may cause you to shake your head in astonishment, but as a thriller, Kidnap speeds ahead with non-stop thrills. It’s a wonder why it took so long for the film to be released seeing as it was completed in 2014. Nevertheless, Kidnap is a worthy film with a strong performance from Berry and while it won’t stay in your memory for long, it’s still a late summer thriller that shouldn’t be overlooked.