Ever since Halle Berry opened the Oscar Best Actress door "for every nameless, faceless woman of color" for winning the elusive plum prize for her role in "Monster's Ball" (2001), her career seemed to have taken a down turn instead of up. Aside from her regular appearance as Storm in the X-Men movies before the "First Class" reboot, she had nothing else quite memorable. She even got a Razzie for Worst Actress in "Catwoman" (2004).
Quite by coincidence, Berry's last film of note was also a film about a kidnap incident, entitled "The Call" (2013), where she played the 911 operator who receives a distress call from an abducted girl. The topic of her newest film "Kidnap" is quite apparent from the title alone which reeked of a pulpy potboiler. I went in not expecting too much. I just wanted to see Ms. Berry in action in the lead role again.
Karla Dyson works as a waitress in a diner as she struggles to support her six-year-old son Frankie while dealing with her divorce from her husband. One day at the amusement park while her attention is diverted by a call on her cellphone, Karla realizes that Frankie is missing. In her distress, she caught sight of an old green Ford Mustang driving off, with a big woman stuffing her boy into the car! Karla rushes to get her own car and gives chase to the couple who kidnapped her son.
This film is all about Halle Berry and her intense portrayal of the never-say-die Mad-Max of a mother who never gave up chasing down the car that had her abducted son in it. She was doing incredibly brave and dangerous things no ordinary woman (or any ordinary man for that matter) could have done in real life. To say that Karla was relentless is a gross understatement. Berry made sure we feel the despair and vulnerability of this mother as she stuck to her chase no matter how many times she cheated death doing so.
The two kidnappers Terry and Margo Vicky were portrayed as crazy redneck hicks by Lew Temple and Chris McGinn respectively. These are one-dimensional bad guys who were not the typical crooks who try to get away as fast as they can from those chasing them. These guys were bold and confrontational. They had Karla pinned in several precarious situations from which she was always lucky and superhuman enough to escape from. This kept the excitement level of the film going.
Director Luis Prieto made the most of the limitations of the script by Nate Gwaltney. With the panicking Halle Berry on the wheel, the car chase sequences were made to feel exciting and heart-pounding. It was no joke trying to extend a car chase for over an hour and engage the audience the whole way, and Prieto did not always succeed. If you suspend disbelief and just ignore some of its illogical details and improbable situations, this thrill ride was quite entertaining, if you have 95 minutes to kill. 5/10
This review was originally published in the author's blog, "Fred Said."