Hot Take: A casualty of Relativity Media’s financial crisis, Kidnap was supposed to be released in 2015 but delayed until 2017. If only the master copy could have been lost between then and now, maybe no one would have been subjected to this terrible garbage.
The expectations for Kidnap were about as low as they could get. When considering all of the challenges this film faced to just get released and previous disappointing films tied to Relativity Media (The Disappointments Room and Masterminds) that were delayed due to their financial situation and finally released and factoring in that Kidnap was delayed even longer, what Kidnap had to accomplish to meet expectations would have been the equivalent of a basketball star jumping over a phone book. After seeing Kidnap, it’s safe to say that if it were a basketball star trying to jump over a phone book, it would have tripped and fallen flat on its face.
In Kidnap, Halle Berry stars as Karla, a single mom who works as a waitress at a diner and through pointless exposition we learn that like almost every other mother in the world, Karla loves her son Frankie (Sage Correa) very much. Karla takes Frankie to a carnival after work and when she steps away from him for a second to discuss the possibility of losing custody to her husband with her lawyer, someone (surprise!) kidnaps Frankie. Or maybe it’s Marco? (Mom and son annoyingly shout “Marco” and “Polo” whenever Frankie drifts from mom’s eyesight.) As Karla frantically searches for her son, she spots him being shoved into the back of a green Ford Mustang (although it looks more blue than green to me) and she clings to the side of the moving vehicle trying to get them to stop. During her ill advised attempt to stop a moving vehicle, Karla drops her phone so when she falls off the moving vehicle and decides to pursue the kidnappers in her own minivan, now we have a movie because Karla can’t call the police or get help in any way.
Kidnap plays out like a weird concoction of Duel meets Ransom meets The Chase meets The Call. It is only like these movies in concept and nowhere near the execution of even the worst of those four movies (The Chase and The Call were both pretty terrible) which should speak to how awful Kidnap is. Give Berry credit for being 100% committed to the role but no amount of commitment can salvage a ridiculous plot and terrible script. At 82 minutes, at least it’s the movie equivalent of ripping off a Band Aid which is the only reason Kidnap edges out The Emoji Movie and does not take away the title of Worst Movie of 2017. (Sorry, The Emoji Movie, you’re going to have to hope for something even worse to come along!)
As indiscriminate of a movie watcher as I am, Kidnap is one that I can’t find any reason to recommend. Even The Emoji Movie has the fact that kids don’t have any real taste yet and will be distracted enough by it to be entertained. Kidnap has nothing like that. It tries to be pulpy schlock but achieves clumsy garbage. If there are 10 movies at the Cineplex and Kidnap is the only one you’ve seen, you’d be better off paying a random stranger $12.80 to entertain you instead.
“Spoiler Free” Pros
- Even the Previews Were Short!
I commend my local Regal Cinema for shortening the previews from the usual 17-20 minutes to a scant 12 minutes leading into Kidnap. Combining that with the fact that the film is only 82 minutes long, the viewing was painful but it was over quickly.
“Spoiler Free” Cons
- What Kind of Mustang Can’t Outrun a Minivan?
I’m just not sure why the kidnappers didn’t put the pedal to the metal and leave mommy Karla in the dust.
- The Land of Exposition
The film is filled with exposition and most of it unnecessary. Kidnap opens with Berry’s voice over some generic home videos of a toddler doing cute stuff because we weren’t sure Berry’s character loved her kid, I guess. Until we get to the car chase, the movie is just one exposition-laden scene after another. There’s even some exposition tied into the chase. It’s as if the film realizes you’d have to be an idiot to see it and they owe it to the idiots to explain what’s happening.