Movie Review: Halle is Hell on Wheels in “Kidnap”

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“Kidnap” jams us into a minivan — without seatbelts — with Halle Berry as she plays a frantic mom chasing the rednecks who snatched her little boy.

It’s a dopey but pulse-pounding B-movie that limits itself to that one task — pursue the couple who took her kid. She talks to herself, blurts out “I will never, ever stop” trying to get that boy back, “Dear God, I know I never pray to you any more” and the like.

And somehow, Halle sells it. Director Luis Prieto (“Pusher”) keeps his camera in her grill – circling extreme close-ups — and the pacing intense. As it hurtles along, the Oscar-winning Berry tracks through concerned to manic to freaking-the-freak- out, morphing into a lay-it-all-out-there lioness protecting her six year-old.

But as she puts her Chrysler Minivan through the wringer of New Orleans Interstate cloverleafs, hurtling after an ’80s Mustang GT, we do the mental math she’s doing along with her. What will they do to her child is she lets them get away? What will they do if she continues the chase? How can she keep up, and how far can she push the villains with the metal weapon in her hands?

I mean, who doesn’t know how lethal Halle Berry can be with a car?

The kid (Sage Correa, adorable) is snatched at a fair ten minutes into the movie. Single mom Karla did everything right — watched him like a hawk. Then she takes that one…cell…call.

Prieto, working from a bare bones Knate Lee script, never goes far wrong with Halle behind the wheel. That talking-to-herself thing is stupid and might take you out of the movie if it wasn’t for the stunning stunt-work. Yeah, you can wreck a lot of cars for the money in The Big Easy.

Also stupid — letting us see the villains way too soon, staging a static face-off with them. The film’s suspense deflates — but just for a minute or two.

Don’t go looking for big twists, as the script rather ham-handedly avoids any we could guess.

But that breathless pursuit — damn.

“Kidnap” also taps into every parent’s nightmare, seeing their child snatched with only a minivan to keep him in sight, no cell phone and cops who keep telling her to “wait” for help to arrive.

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Standing in a tiny sheriff’s office, hearing the phrase “Calm down,” and seeing a wall covered with posters of missing children, Karla comes to the only conclusion she can.

“That’s what all THOSE people did. They WAITED!”

If you buy into that, you buy her performance and you just might buy into “Kidnap.”

If it’s Berry’s fate to be consigned to genre thrillers like this and “The Call,” she never lets on that she’s not all-in, never lets us forget the stakes. Even as she never stops reminding us of those stakes in a running monologue that only an Oscar winner with a producer credit must have insisted be added to a limited if fiercely focused script.

2stars1

 

MPAA Rating: R, violence, profanity

Cast: Halle Berry, Sage Correa, Chris McGinn, Lew Temple

Credits:Directed by Luis Prieto, script by Knate Lee. An Aviron release.

Running time: 1:34

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5 Responses to Movie Review: Halle is Hell on Wheels in “Kidnap”

  1. Mike says:

    Who doesn’t know Berry can be lethal with a car? Pretty tasteless comment considering she seriously wounded that woman in a car wreck and then fled the scene.

    • Nobody died. It was 17 years ago. And Howie Mandel was right. Halle playing the victim after all that was ridiculous and hilarious. A fine actress, but if she doesn’t think people think about that when they see her behind the wheel in a car chase picture, well she’s mistaken.

  2. John says:

    You gave it a 2 out 4 yet it’s fresh on rottentomatoes. Weird. Plus the 4 star scale sucks, very outdated.

    • Good enough for the Michelin Guide, good enough for me. But I guess the whole world knowing what you mean when you say “a three star movie” or a “four star” restaurant is “out of date.”

  3. The Devil says:

    Cool review. I thought about passing on this one because I was worried it was like all the “Taken ” movies. You helped me see something the professors in audio art class forgot to tell all the shrunken headed students: Score and sound design are separate. I always thought of them as one because I screen capture sound from films and mix them strange ways. Things get muddled by professors in class because they spend most of class time talking about themselves. It’s funny though. I think I’ll see this one after reading your review. I was worried about it. Whomp. If you make the sound design piece I think you should add your comedy like those National Lampoon stories I loved so much. I found a copy of one with the original short story to “Christmas Vacation.” I’m ignoring all the other critics now.

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