“Kidnap”

 

            The camera loves Halle Berry. And, she's won an Oscar (Best Actress for “Monster's Ball” in 2001).  So her presence alone is enough to justify a look-see at this one.  Unfortunately, there's a lot not to like.

            First, if you've seen the trailer, you've seen the movie.  A woman loses track of her young son in a crowd.  With a grim, determined, look on her face, she pursues the kidnappers.  Is there any doubt how the story's going to end?  (Hint:  not like the kidnapping of Charles Lindbergh's son).

            Then there's the wasted time trying to establish Halle Berry's character, a waitress (or is it “food server”?) in a diner; a single Mom who's going through a messy divorce, but we don't need all that to empathize with her.  Even if she does allow herself to be distracted while talking to her lawyer.

            Then there's the gambit of her dropping her phone on the pavement in hasty pursuit of the kidnappers, and then of course she doesn't have it for the rest of the movie, which means she has to rely either on her own resources or the kindness of strangers.  (Turns out they aren't much help.  Big surprise there.)

            But worst of all, Berry's character (will anybody even remember or care about the character name?) seems to be some sort of superwoman when it comes to hanging on to moving cars and falling off without apparent injury, not to mention an accomplished race car driver----in a red minivan?  And surviving multiple crashes with faculties intact, and no bones broken.  And then taking on the gang of desperados with whatever weapon is handy, including the business end of a shovel, while the bad guys seem more like poor white trash than accomplished criminals operating an interstate child abduction ring.  Oh, and law enforcement isn't any help, either.  But who needs them, when Ms. Berry can just take the law into her own hands, and still be the hero? (Or can we still say “heroine”?)

            Well, it's unlikely, but that doesn't mean it isn't visceral.  We feel her pain and her tension, but Director Luis Prieto seems a little too enamored with making viewers jump at loud noises.  Maybe it's all about female empowerment (though one of the outlaws is a woman).  Maybe it's supposed to raise awareness about the number of unsolved missing children cases. (Though statistically, most abductions are not by strangers, but family members, often over, you guessed it, divorce disputes.)

            Yes, the camera loves Halle Berry, and she is a great actress.  But this bound-for-the-bargain-bin film is not worthy of her talents.

 

Questions for Discussion:

1)                  What's your worst parental nightmare?

2)                  Have you ever been in a situation where you felt violence toward another was justified?

3)                  What other lamentable movies have featured superior actors?

 

Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, DFW Film Critics Association