Cinematic Releases: They Messed With The Wrong Oscar Winner: Kidnap (2017) Reviewed

As we are approaching the end of the summer movie season, studios are racing to get their films out there. Good or bad, the studios are ready to move on to the award season prestige pictures that dominate the fall. August is considered the dumping ground, months where studios think that audiences will go see whatever you throw out there.  Most of the films released then are the ones that have been held up in post-production hell for a while and are just yearning to be free. After a tumultuous postproduction release schedule that involved the bankruptcy of its original studio, Kidnap is finally out and it is undoubtedly one of those movies.

A typical afternoon in the park turns into a nightmare for single mom Karla Dyson (Halle Berry) when her son suddenly disappears. Without a cell phone and knowing she has no time to wait for police help, Karla jumps in her own car and sets off in pursuit of the kidnappers. Karla must risk everything to not lose sight of her son as the film tells the story of a mother's attempt to take back her son leads her to ask herself how far she will go to save her child.

Directed by Luis Prieto, Kidnap aims to serve as a pulpy throwback to the action movies of the past. Think of films like the Mel Gibson actioner Ransom or one of the many Harrison Ford films where he wants his family back and then add in a dash of Speed and that is the kind of film Kidnap is. While it has these clear influences, Kidnap barely registers and does not live up to these standards.

I will find the person that stole my career and I will destroy them!

With the exception of Halle Berry, it seems like a film that was made on autopilot. Every action sequence is shot and edited in a way that is dizzying and at points exhausting and not in a good way. It is reminiscent of the editing in Taken 3. There were several sequences where I had to look away just to try and understand what the hell was going on. The stunts are top notch but the post-production zooms that are prominent throughout the film are exhausting and bring the film down several pegs.

The bright spot in the film is shockingly Halle Berry. Halle Berry is relentlessly committed to her role as a mother who will do anything to get her child back. The panic and fear on her face is so genuine that it makes it much more heartbreaking when the script lets her down and makes her character look like a bumbling moron. It’s the kind of high-energy go for broke performance that elevates mostly bad films into a solid watchable film. It is the kind of performance that made me wonder what this film would be like if it was in the hands of a director and writer who was as dedicated as Berry is.

As it is now, Kidnap is just a rental for a fun night of drinking with friends that could have been so much. 

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-Liam S. O'Connor