By: Paris Wong
As far as most thrillers go, ‘Kidnap’ did not disappoint – though it didn’t exactly shock or surprise, either.
Halle Berry plays Carla, a divorced mother who works hard to make ends meet for her son, Frankie (Sage Correa). Following a brief video montage meant to solidify their bond, Carla takes Frankie to a fair for a fun afternoon together. However, she steps away for just a minute – which unfortunately is long enough for Frankie to be lured to the parking lot and, you guessed it, he gets kidnapped.
The rest of the film follows as predictably as you might think. With much of the movie taking place during a car chase, the way in which it was shot kept the reality of it from dragging. After all, almost an hour swerving down long, country roads doesn’t make for the most riveting watch, but stick with it: for all the suspense, there’s always some payoff at the end.
About two quarters of the movie was spent framed in tight around Berry’s face, emphasizing her performance as the one mom you don’t want to mess with. (Note: if you suffer from motion sickness, you may leave the theater on wobbly legs.) As one of Hollywood’s most versatile actresses, she sold the movie above all else, with audience members clapping and whooping and thoroughly enjoying themselves as she went through hell and back for her baby. However, it was slightly similar to her 2013 film, ‘The Call,’ in which she played a 911 phone operator who saw her job all the way through by rescuing a kidnap victim herself. If you end up enjoying ‘Kidnap,’ you may be interested in checking Berry out in ‘The Call’ if you haven’t already.
The rest of the time seemed determined to keep shots of the cars new and exciting – because let’s face it, we can’t all be ‘Fast and Furious’ – with several seconds towards the beginning of the chase utilizing some interesting flickering effects I haven’t been able to get out of my head (see if you can’t spot it – you may feel slightly cheated afterwards). Fortunately the chase feels fast-paced even if time is ticking away all the while, and the score – at first a low thrum, then a louder screeching mix that haunts and grates – only serves to add to that anticipation. If nothing else, ‘Kidnap’ used sound to its ultimate advantage, making the watching of this film more of an experience than regular old story time.
That said, beware: there are a few jump scares to keep viewers on the edge of their seats, so hold onto your popcorn! Overall though, the story itself isn’t anything particularly fresh. There was some fear towards the end that we might get the sort of ending Jordan Peele decided not to opt for at the end of ‘Get Out,’ but this film is meant to be more fun than social commentary (and after all the stress of the rest of the movie, the lack of a twist was welcome). Technically it is well executed, but the twists don’t linger with you once the credits are rolling – though a little of the thrill might. ‘Kidnap’ is good if you need a quick thrill to pass the time, but otherwise there’s nothing too in depth about it.
Though it does make you think: what are the lengths you would go to for someone you love?
‘Kidnap’ is …
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Translation: You could take or leave this one. It’s not terrible, nor is it a masterpiece, but it’s a fun and decent way to pass the time.