REVIEW: “Kidnap”

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Halle Berry has been the butt of many jokes over the past few years due to her fall from grace and her poor choice in film roles. It’s been a while since she’s been in a starring, high profile role of any substance but 2017 seems to be an attempted comeback year for the once-cherished Hollywood starlet starting with her leading role in “Kidnap”, the first film for Aviron Pictures. While cliché, generic, and all-around campy in many cases, “Kidnap” is honestly an entertaining ride and a worthy viewing for any shameless action lover in need of a good fix of suspense and high-speed fun.

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“Kidnap” is pretty appropriately named as it focuses on a woman’s desperate chase of a pair of kidnapers who snatch her young son away during a trip at the park. The film sees Berry in the lead role in a pretty basic plot as she endures roadblocks, literally and figuratively, in her relentless quest to get her son back. As the chase progressives the stakes get higher as her son’s life is put in jeopardy and her hopes of keeping up with and stopping the kidnapers look bleaker and bleaker.

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“Kidnap” is exactly what you think it is. It’s a high-speed thriller that sees a woman chasing after the most important thing in her world, her son. While not her best performance, it’s a solid showing by Halle Berry who reminds us of her promise and ability as an actress. Good thing too considering she is in pretty much every shot and scene in the film with the entire movie completely focused on her character in her pursuit of the kidnapers. Berry is honestly the best thing about this film as she embraces her role magnificently, truly becoming a desperate and hopeless woman trying to protect her world from a pair of strangers who have stripper her of her one reason for living.

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The action isn’t half bad either. Considering its plot, “Kidnap” was destined to be a high speed adventure and it fully embraces that cliché creating fun and edge of your seat moments as Berry hunts down, loses, and relocates the kidnapers on the busy roads and highways, causing unintentional mayhem along the way. While much of the action seems ridiculous due to the vehicles used in the film, a classic Mustang and a Chrysler van, it’s actually a lot of fun to watch and the first chase scene alone had me as a viewer completely engrossed in the mindless action on display. The one thing you could appreciate about “Kidnap” is it’s not trying to be more than it needs to be, but it’s also not settling for the most basic interpretation of its story. It’s somewhere in between, making for a nice movie-watching experience as a pretty basic and shameless popcorn thriller.

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However, on that same not, the problem with “Kidnap” is that, for all intents and purposes, it really IS horrendously basic. It’s normal to expect a few clichés and overdone concepts and plot lines in the first film of a new studio, but with “Kidnap” it’s massively predictable in almost every way, and the sad thing is that’s more of a typical fault in the film’s production and writing. While the filmmakers knew EXACTLY what they were making, it’s the nature of the beast that a film like this loses some credibility for its lack of originality. We know this story, we know how it ends, and despite the edge-of-your seat action we’ve also seen all that action before. “Kidnap”, to use a few simple words, is unoriginal and unimaginative, but that doesn’t make for a bad film. It just makes for a generic film.

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The movie does contain some interesting cinematography though. For a film containing car chases and highway mayhem it’s pretty stripped down in terms of its filming approach. The camera moves just as fast as the action and the movie is surprisingly short on smash cuts that often litter the most basic of action thrillers. So while “Kidnap” is terribly cliché it is a well shot movie that allows the action to speak for itself rather than forcing suspense down the viewers’ throats…for the most part. I mean the SUV scene during the first major chase is a bit over the top.

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All in all “Kidnap” is exactly what it was meant to be. A middle-of-the-road, generic, and enjoyable thriller that puts its bankable star front end center to carry the movie the entire way. And that she does as Berry pulls off a memorable and noteworthy performance that pretty much makes the entire film. The most important thing about “Kidnap” is that it’s fun to watch and while it leans on cliché tactics and overused formulas to get to that point there’s a certain charming shamelessness that makes it an easy film to embrace. Honestly, I’m hoping that if nothing else this film serves to be the resurgence for Halle Berry’s career that it deserves to be and while it may not win any points for originality “Kidnap” honestly manages to be more enjoyable than many big-budget blunders of 2017 which, in itself, is an accomplishment worth celebrating.

 

 

 

GRADE: 3 stars

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