Kevin: Well it’s official, even though it is still early November we have the clear winner for worst movie of not only 2017, but possibly next year and retroactively for 2016 as well. The child-in-peril thriller “Kidnap” is like “Breakdown” if “Breakdown” had zero tension, consisted of characters who made bafflingly stupid decisions at all times, and if Kurt Russell was the world’s worst actress (who somehow also has an Oscar!). If you’ve ever imagined how tedious it would be to be stuck in a car with Halle Berry for an hour, well now you have your answer:
In addition to giving Halle Berry the opportunity to make facial expressions like this on a constant basis …
… “Kidnap’s” main goal appears to be reassuring overbearing helicopter moms everywhere that, whatever long-term negative consequences arise from their smothering parenting, it is worth it to guard against the very plausible danger that their children will be snatched right from underneath them in broad daylight by a white trash child trafficking network.
First though let’s meet the newest hero of insufferable mommy bloggers everywhere, Berry’s single mom Karla Dyson, who in true movie fashion is obviously a relatable, salt-of-the-earth woman because she’s a put-upon diner waitress. How put-upon? Well for one thing she has to wait on some bitchy chick who gets annoyed that their oatmeal isn’t steel-cut and they only have whole milk, which apparently makes her a monster, but is exactly the kind of high maintenance bullshit I imagine Halle Berry would probably be complaining about if she found herself in a diner in real life.
Either way, she is waiting on tables by herself because her unseen coworker Ellen is late and isn’t answering her phone, and honestly the most suspenseful part of “Kidnap” is worrying about whether Karla will have to work a double shift. Fortunately Ellen is found and Karla and her son are free to head to the park, but not before Berry makes the face of someone who is normally used to having her nanny carry her kids for her:
We are then introduced to the real hero of this film, Karla’s red minivan, which over the course of the movie will be involved in numerous chases all over Louisiana, will sustain several collisions and keep on going, and will assist in killing one of the bad guys even as it’s out of gas and on its last legs. Now considering how much death and destruction subsequently occurs over the fate of one little boy, you may be wondering, who is the annoying shit who could possibly be worth all this trouble?
Despite the totally infantilizing “Baby on Board” sticker on her car, Karla’s son Frankie is actually six years old but Karla treats him like a mentally challenged infant, although from what we see perhaps she is right to do so. Frankie apparently will believe anything that a complete stranger tells him, and even though he has numerous opportunities to run away or yell for help, he apparently will just follow along with his kidnappers at all times. Either that or he is as desperate to get away from his mom as David Justice was from Halle Berry by the end of their marriage.
If I were him I’d want some space as well, since when they are at the park Karla makes sure Frankie is nearby by calling out “Marco!” so he can respond “Polo!” Now that wouldn’t be so bad except she calls out “Marco!” like every five seconds; her poor kid can’t even play on a slide about 10 feet away without having to constantly reassure his embarrassingly clingy and paranoid mom that he is still alive. Her behavior is so obnoxious that even the child molester sitting next to her is obviously silently judging her parenting:
Of course while in real life the only danger Frankie faces will be from all the psychological and possible sexual issues he develops from his mother’s weirdly possessive relationship with him, since this is a shitty Hollywood thriller he is of course snatched away right in the middle of a public park in the 30 seconds Karla has her back to him while talking to her divorce attorney, “T. Jackson” (apparently Halle Berry’s love life is as chaotic on screen as it is in reality). Just to give you an idea of the amount of care everyone involved gave this film, note that in this shot of her phone it is clearly fully charged, but during her conversation she says the battery is about to die:
(Although if the battery was that low I’m not sure why she was letting Frankie drain it further by watching stupid cartoons on it, and I’m not sure why the whole battery thing was even brought up to begin with since she quickly loses her phone at the beginning of the chase.)
First though Karla tries to find Frankie by wandering around and constantly yelling out either “Frankie” or “Marco,” which will give anyone who watched “Lost” instant PTSD over that endless stretch in season two when Michael just walked around the jungle yelling “Walt!” over and over. Either way, I don’t understand why she can’t just stick to yelling her son’s actual name at this point, and apparently other people in the movie are just as confused by this fucking nut job as we are:
Thankfully, in a moment of pure dumb luck that will set the template for pretty much the rest of the movie, Karla walks into the parking lot just in time to see Frankie being thrown into a car that apparently never gets pulled over by the cops despite having completely blacked out windows and no front or back license plates. What then follows is about 40 minutes of Halle Berry perpetuating every stereotype of women drivers short of applying mascara during her pursuit, engaging in long monologues to herself like an insane person, and producing some award-worthy reaction shots:
I should note that the reaction shot below was considered so powerful that the movie shows it twice, once when Berry is beginning her pursuit and later when the bad guys toss a thin spare tire at her that she avoids but which causes “Road Warrior”-level destruction to any vehicle it touches:
That particular SUV flips over about six times, while later a motorcycle cop is seemingly killed, but we never find out what happened to them or anyone else involved in the numerous crashes Karla causes, although trying to run the kidnappers off the road or block them with her own car never occurs to her. Actually you almost start to wonder if the movie is going to pull one of those “it was all in her mind” type of twists due to the number of times she asks herself things like “is anybody seeing this?,” but nope, it turns out she is just a lunatic.
Actually I had a good laugh at one point when Halle gets excited hearing on the radio that the cops are approaching a red SUV and assumes the cavalry is coming, but it turns out they pulled over the wrong car. Then we hear the newscaster say that the woman got into an altercation with the cops and had to be subdued, so apparently she was equally as unstable as Karla. I guess another message “Kidnap” is trying to convey is to give any woman driving a red SUV a wide berth.
Eventually we do get introduced to the masterminds in charge of this complex criminal network that has evaded law enforcement detection for years, and it turns out they are … uh, two of probably Kid Rock’s biggest fans:
Upon seeing the woman approaching her car, Halle Berry makes the kind of horrified expression I would expect the actress to have in real life upon encountering someone with more than 2% body fat:
Even though it felt like it had been going on for an eternity by this point, we were actually barely halfway into the film’s 75-minute runtime, and even then “Kidnap” has to be padded out with scenes like an endless montage of baby pictures at the beginning in order to meet the bare minimum time requirement for a theatrical feature. I won’t go into how Karla eventually tracks the kidnappers down or rescues Frankie, but rest assured that none of it involves any skill or intelligence; in most cases she just drives around aimlessly and magically gets lucky any time it appears the bad guys have gotten away for good.
Also, if you had “You took the wrong kid!” in the office pool for what would be the most likely line for Halle Berry to say after defeating the bad guys at the end of “Kidnap,” then congratulations:
I’m sure that line got applause from some of the moms who actually went to see “Kidnap” in the theater last August. And I’m sure most of those moms have kids who think being kidnapped by redneck child traffickers would be at least a lateral move in terms of who they’d rather be raised by.
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