Trash TV, that’s basically what you get with Halle Berry’s new film “Kidnap.” This plot isn’t all that different from “The Call,” where the former “Bond” girl played a 911 operator who takes justice into her own hands. “Kidnap” joins the collection of high profile Hollywood celebrities who participate in these cheap, easy, thrill-a-minute flicks that bank on the star power and hyper reality situations. It’s one thing for Jennifer Lopez to star in a movie like this, but when you have an Academy Award winner in a role that’s more reaction than acting, it’s a bit embarrassing. “Kidnap” gets off to a quick start and barely allows the audience a breather as Berry’s “Don’t mess with mom” character will stop at nothing to save her abducted son.
What was supposed to be a relaxing afternoon at the local fair turns stressful when single mom Karla Dyson (Berry) takes an important phone call about child custody. Stepping away from her 5-year-old son Frankie (Correa) for only seconds, her cellphone dies and when she turns around she can’t find her son. Spotting an oversized woman shoving Frankie into a car and speeding out of the parking, Karla follows in hot pursuit with her Chrysler Mini Van. She chases the kidnappers across Louisiana as they toss objects on the highway trying to shake her. Karla refuses to give up, fears the police won’t be able to assist her and can’t seem to get anyone’s attention on the road for assistance.
“Kidnap” follows a particular, familiar formula: Extreme situation that requires the everyday mother to become a superhero. Of course, the kidnappers are white trash, overweight, swamp dwellers, because that’s what every Hollywood film portrays any character or community outside of New Orleans. Berry is the poor, desperate single mother who works swing shifts at a local diner, yet drives a top of the line minivan, despite having one child. That bulky maroon vehicle gets second billing, for the majority of the 90-minute film, it’s the only object Berry converses with. She even pats the hood once the dependable, sliding-door family unit, bites the dust.
This is the type of film that encourages the audience to get involved, and there was no shortage of that during the pre-screening. “Run girl run!,” “Don’t put the gun down,” were common comments yelled at the screen as if Karla could hear them. “You kidnapped the wrong kid!” Berry shouts in one scene, a line you could see coming from the poster outside the theater. “Kidnap” knows and understands its audience, giving them heart-stopping (albeit predictable) thrills and chills. While most of the freeway stunts exist in the realm of possibility, “Kidnap” presents Louisiana as a state full of clueless citizens who respond with “Huh?” or “What?” every time Karla asks for help. Despite most of the ridiculous circumstances presented here, “Kidnap” can offer some advice; never leave your child alone for one second, always have your cellphone charged with a backup external battery and always keep your gas tank full.
Final thought — Thrilling, twist-a-minute, trash TV glorified with big screen treatment.