Halle Berry’s newest film, Kidnap, finally lands in theater after a long attempt to reach general audiences. Kidnap was completed in 2014 and had many scheduled releases but never saw the light of day due to numerous studio problems. Kidnap offers a simple plot of a mother struggling to rescue her kidnapped son after he is stolen away from her at a neighborhood park. Halle Berry embarks on a thrilling chase to catch the kidnappers and save the life of her young son. With Kidnap having so many behind the scene issues, is this worth the long wait? The answer is simply no.
Halle Berry is a very talented actress with some amazing past performances like Monster’s Ball. Unfortunately for Berry, she has also had some truly appalling films like Catwoman which makes her record rather mixed. Berry is set to take yet another hit as most would say that Kidnap falls into the same category as Catwoman. If I had to describe Halle Berry’s acting in one word, it would be lazy. There isn’t a lot of effort in her role and she seemed to phone in most of her interactions which led to not feeling connected with the main lead. What is even worse than her acting is the direction and writing for her character, Karla.
Kidnap was meant to be a realistic portrayal of a mother, trapped in an unthinkable nightmare, trying to save her child. What resulted was a clichéd product that leaves the audience extremely frustrated. As Karla is racing down her son’s kidnappers, she spends most of her time plotting her next moves, talking to herself, and praying. Most of the film is her following around the kidnappers in a nearly destroyed minivan but rarely making any substantial progress in saving the child. Early in the film, several plotlines are set up to prevent Karla from contacting authorities during her chase but frankly she doesn’t seem that concerned about getting help anyway. Karla’s frustrating inability to take action had me rolling my eyes and questioning her real desire to rescue her child.
Kidnap certainly seemed to have a lot of free time as it filled most of its scenes with mundane spinning wheel shots and overhead freeway driving. For the second part of the film the characters weren’t even speeding and instead seemed to be driving around at a normal pace and obeying all traffic laws, not at all exciting or thrilling. Any energy that the film built up in the beginning immediately died when it switched from The Fast and the Furious to Driving Miss Daisy halfway through. Cue another 30 minutes of wheel shots and parking lots, and Kidnap was practically dead by the time we reached the final scenes. The final act does pick up towards the end but the damage is done and my attention was completely lost.
For such a beautiful and dynamic actress, Berry’s character in this movie was incredibly boring and one dimensional. The film opens with a montage of scenes featuring her interacting with her son as he grows up but the connection between the two was weak at best. Besides a few plot nuggets at the beginning, Karla really doesn’t even feel like a real person and she certainly doesn’t experience any character development throughout the film. She begins her chase as a furious and hysterical mother and ends her chase the same way, leading to a rather one note character. Since she really is the only character with any real screen time, it’s hard to judge the film on anything other than her mediocre performance. A true shame, because Kidnap seemed to really have some potential.
Kidnap has been in production hell since its completion in 2014 and fails to live up to the anticipation that it’s generated. With an A-list actress like Halle Berry, it’s a shame that this “thrilling” action film suffered from poorly executed direction and subpar plotlines. After Relativity Media’s bankruptcy and its constantly delayed films, it is highly unlikely that we will see successes like Les Misérables and The Social Network ever again.
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Kidnap runs 1 hour 34 minutes, and is rated R for violence and peril.