• 02 Sep - 08 Sep, 2017
  • Farheen Jawaid
  • Reviews

With a title that obviously reveals the content, Kidnap isn’t about surprises, big reveals or a whole lot of plot. Rather, it is about breakneck adrenaline-pumping chases a mother gives to the kidnapers who have nabbed her six-year-old boy. Taken right in front of her sight, this mama (or for that matter any mama), won’t let anyone take her child without a fight.

Karla Dyson (Halle Berry) is a single mom fighting for the custody of her son. She has a dead-end job as a waitress, handling all sorts of people from dysfunctional families to downright rude couples. At these times, she bottles up her emotions, and handles them with tolerance till she can find time to be with the only bright spot in her life: her son Frankie (Sage Correa), he is all that she has.

At a park when she walks away to take a call from her lawyer, she realises – in seconds – that he is missing. She hits her panic button when she catches sight of him being dragged into a dingy 1980’s green Mustang. If her heart was in her throat, that moment it rocketed to the moon. Her mind moves slower than her body, as she runs to the car, grabs on to it and physically tries to get her boy. She doesn’t stop and wails when she fails. Instead she hops into her red minivan and chases the Mustang.

Kidnap is a chase movie that is Taken and Speed rolled into one, along with a strong dose of Steven Spielberg’s Duel put in the mix. When Karla gets into her minivan, she (almost) stays in the vehicle until the climax – even when the van is in no condition to move. Without doubt Karla and her van are the highlight of the movie. Both of them look vulnerable and in over their heads, but when the going gets tough they can hit back hard. In the minivan’s case, it nearly demolishes a car’s front bumper; as for Karla, she shows the bad guys who is the boss as the only person standing at the end.

The villains are a redneck couple. They don’t look bright, but that’s a reason in itself to be anxious. It gets grimmer and dangerous when the chaser and the abductors have to size up each other on who has the brains and the guts to survive the ordeal. Karla, isn’t Liam Neeson from Taken, whose cool and deadly assurance of exacting revenge in the most gruesome and complete manner brings chill to the bone. She reacts like a normal, realistic mother would in the same situation. Her first priority is her child, everyone else is secondary – which includes cars and its passenger whom she endangered by haphazardly speeding on the road. Karla doesn’t even know what she will do when she catches up to the two snatchers. For the bulk of the film, for her it is act first, think later.

Director Luis Prieto, prioritises interest, for most of the length of the movie by building up the chase as a battle between the two cars. The villains are shown only in glimpses in the first half, so in their stead the green Mustang becomes one’s visual association for their evil. The Mustang even looks the part with reflective mirrors, its front taped with black fabric, ready for the scrap yard. While the minivan is mostly shot as a larger-than-life, almost indestructible hero, its sheen and ready for a commercial shoot. The other interesting thing is the music from Federico Jusid. With a pulsating score, the menace is kept on the surface, as the camera looms over the cars.

Halle Berry – also acting as the producer – is almost in every shot of the film. The actress brings her A game; she runs and screams in manic tension, while facing the truth of her vulnerability, chasing the kidnappers with a faux calm she has talked herself into. Berry is a super star who knows how to carry a film – she not only looks good but has the ability to bring acting chops to the table, whenever the industry or the material lets her. Kidnap has all sorts of interesting things happening underneath a typical thriller abduction formula. Watch it for the rapid pace and the resilient minivan. Believe me, the van in itself is worth the watch.