‘’Kidnap,’’ in which a working-class single mom chases down her little boy’s abductors, is the latest B-movie vehicle for Oscar-winning actress Halle Berry. It’s a serviceable thriller: nothing more, nothing less.
In many ways, the setup is more preposterous than all the mayhem that follows the child snatching. Berry plays Karla, an impossibly beautiful and wonderful mother who works as a waitress at a tacky diner. She seems buoyant as ever as she drives her impossibly cute kid, Frankie (Sage Correa), to a fair.
Then comes the phone call. Karla’s ex has decided he wants full custody of Frankie, and a distracted Karla loses sight of her boy, who of course likes to hide from her. The redneck kidnappers, who would raise eyebrows at even an NRA convention, need only a millisecond to abduct Frankie in front of hundreds of people, and there are no witnesses.
Fortunately for Karla, the knucklehead kidnappers are frightfully slow in their getaway, and she spots them in the parking lot. Inconveniently — or conveniently, if you are the screenwriter — Karla drops her phone as she begins her pursuit, eliminating the possibility of 911 calls.
Despite the pileup of implausibility at the beginning, the film rallies by quickly cutting to the chase, and within minutes, Karla finds herself in a frantic race on the freeways of Louisiana. The entire police force of the state seems to be at Mardi Gras, but otherwise, the frenetic set-pieces are reasonably realistic, and it’s refreshing to see true stunt work rather than an over-reliance on computer-generated imagery.
The kidnappers, who clearly missed Berry’s 2013 thriller, ‘’The Call,’’ are not the sharpest tools in the shed, and we know from the get-go that they will be no match for Karla when she gets her hands on them. This contributes to an aura of predictability that hangs over the proceedings, though there are a few clever turns during some of the chase sequences.
Director Luis Prieto is wise to keep the camera fixated on Berry, who delivers a sturdy performance in which she is under extreme duress for almost the entire film. This is pulpy material, but Berry gives it her all. The only time she falters is when she talks to herself in the car, becoming an on-the-nose narrator more than a character. It’s too bad that Hollywood has still not figured out how to use this actress better.
Like ‘’Taken,’’ which this movie most closely resembles, ‘’Kidnap’’ derives much of its…