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Movie Night – ‘Kidnap’ offers simple plot, predictable ending

By Bradley Griffith

There’s currently a lull in the quality of movies at the theater. Each year between the summer blockbusters and the more serious fall movies you get a few weeks of mediocre movies.  “Kidnap,” Halle Berry’s latest thriller, continues this trend.

Karla Dyson (Berry) is in the midst of a divorce.  She works as a waitress in a diner and is doing everything she can to take care of her son, Frankie (Sage Correa). After a long shift at the diner Karla takes Frankie to a carnival in a city park in New Orleans for some fun in the sun. Both mother and son are having a great day.

While watching a band perform on stage Karla gets a call from her attorney. Her husband wants primary custody of Frankie. Karla doesn’t want to have this conversation in front of Frankie so she steps away from their seats and turns her back on Frankie while she talks with her attorney.  When she turns back around Frankie is gone.

Karla begins frantically looking in every place she and Frankie had visited in the carnival that day, but she finds no trace of Frankie until she hears a child screaming from the parking lot.  She turns in time to a woman forcing Frankie into the back seat of a car while he’s screaming for his mom.

Karla chases after the car on foot but can’t stop it before the car exits the parking lot onto a main road. In her mad dash to get to her minivan Karla drops her cell phone. She begins chasing the kidnappers in her minivan but has no way to call the police, or anyone else, for help.

The chase seemingly takes them all over New Orleans, though much of the chase is more like a crawl than a dash. Several times the kidnappers try to threaten Karla to give up the chase, but she continues her relentless pursuit of her son and his abductors.

In some ways “Kidnap” seems like a lower quality version of “Taken” with a female as the lead character. There seems little doubt that the filmmakers intended to capitalize on the success of the “Taken” franchise. In both movies a child is abducted and the parent sees or speaks with the kidnappers. In both movies the parent will stop at nothing to get the child back.

While the story of “Kidnap” sounds similar to “Taken,” the end result could not be more different. Bryan Mills in “Taken” is relentless and brutally efficient in his destruction of the mob who took his daughter, and Liam Neeson is fantastic in the lead role. “Taken” is bolstered by spectacular actions scenes throughout the movie. Much of “Kidnap” is a car chase. Not a high-octane chase, but somewhere between a sprint to make it to work when you’re 10 minutes late already and a leisurely drive in the country.

The only actor who has any screen time of consequence is Halle Berry. The entire story is told through her eyes as she chases the mostly faceless kidnappers. It’s not her best performance, but it’s not her worst either. While many of the things she says and does seem far-fetched and flat-out crazy, it’s hard not to identify with to a woman who will do whatever it takes to get her child back.

There’s not much more to say about the movie because there’s not much more to the movie. A child is kidnapped and his mother won’t stop the meandering chase until she gets him back. It’s a simple plot with a predictable ending.

Overall, “Kidnap” follows the trend of this time of year and is, at its best moments, a mediocre movie. There’s nothing great about it, but it’s not the worst movie of the year either. My recommendation is to wait until you can rent “Kidnap” at home.

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Grade: B-

Rated R for violence and peril.