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Empty thriller ‘Kidnap’ barely qualifies as a feature film

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Hale Berry is a mother on a mission in Kidnap.

Two stars

Kidnap Halle Berry, Sage Correa, Chris McGinn. Directed by Luis Prieto. Rated R. Opens Friday citywide.

Shot nearly three years ago and bounced around the release calendar since then, the cheap-looking Halle Berry thriller Kidnap already feels like a relic of another era. Perhaps inspired by the success of Taken and its imitators, Kidnap stars Berry as a determined mother who does everything she can to rescue her young son from the criminals who have abducted him.

Berry’s Karla is a humble waitress, so she doesn’t have a very particular set of skills, but she does have a minivan, and after 6-year-old Frankie (Sage Correa) is taken from a park, Karla sets off in pursuit of his kidnappers. More than half the movie is a repetitive, drawn-out car chase, as Karla loses and then relocates the kidnappers multiple times.

Director Luis Prieto doesn’t liven up the chase with visual flair or exciting scenery; the entire drive takes place on wide, nondescript highways next to empty fields or groves, with minimal obstacles from other vehicles, and is shot in the same flat, functional manner. Since there aren’t really any other characters for her to interact with, Berry spends most of the movie talking to herself, narrating Karla’s (often illogical) thought process as she attempts to reunite with Frankie. The sinister kidnappers barely get a few lines each, and they’re never more than an abstract menace.

Berry strains to carry the movie, not quite selling Karla’s anguish via the TV-movie-level dialogue by screenwriter Knate Lee. Despite a running time that barely hits 80 minutes before the credits, Kidnap is still padded and plodding, and its plot proceeds in a dull straight line without any crazy developments (even an idiotic twist would have livened things up). It all ends up exactly where Karla and the audience expect it to, after taking far too long to get there.

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Josh Bell

Josh Bell is the film editor for Las Vegas Weekly, where he's been writing movie and TV reviews since 2002. ...

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