I’ve given up trying to understand the motives behind why actors choose the projects they do. (Hint: It’s the money.) When it comes down to it, the end result isn’t up to them. They just show up, hopefully work to the best of their ability, and hopefully that’s something I want to watch. But I do have to wonder: Was this movie sold to Halle Berry as a comedy? I’m seriously weighing the possibility that I just got trolled, and Kidnap is the most straight-faced parody of low-budget action thrillers to ever come out of Hollywood. The sheer madness on display here offers no other reasonable explanation. That would at least be something, and I’d respect Berry and everyone else involved if that were the case. The truth is that it’s just a bad movie.
Berry plays Karla, a server raising her 6-year-old son. When her lawyer calls to announce that her ex-husband wants sole custody of little Frankie (Sage Correa), she panics. And in that brief moment when her attention isn’t directly focused on the boy, the kidnappers strike. She even sees it happen. But the biggest issue with this setup is that this all occurs within the first 10 minutes, and half of that time is devoted to portraying her as a completely distracted person. She’s constantly taking her eyes off the road while driving, messing up her customers’ orders in the diner (then just walking away when they start to complain) and leaving her kid alone at a park. So we’re questioning just how responsible she is right from the start, which I don’t at all think was what the filmmakers intended.
That’s a little worrisome but becomes less so as the movie progresses. Any character traits provided upfront prove to be meaningless since this is just a lazily written film. Karla is good, and the redneck kidnappers are bad. Simple as that. That’s fine, but the movie goes so intensely over the top that I was expecting it to just fly all the way off the rails and into Running Scared territory (that being Paul Walker’s weirdest movie, not Gregory Hines’ dumbest, by the way).
Because if you’re going to cram all the car chases, multistate child abduction rings, clothes-swapping fake-outs, hit-and-run hearses, accidental homicides and killer attack dogs you can into 75 minutes, why not get more specific with the actual story and characters? Why not give me all that while making me care?
I actually enjoyed the film in the moment, even if not a single one of those moments made any sense whatsoever. It’s never boring, but gee whiz, it is just one idiotic thing after another. And looking back now, my biggest issue with the movie as a whole is the implication that a bunch of little kids wouldn’t completely polish off a whole frozen pizza. This movie asks you to suspend your disbelief quite a bit, but this is just approaching some Buñuel levels of surrealism. Nice try, Kidnap.