Road rage that spins out

Halle Berry is one mad mother in the in­ept, scanty chase thriller ‘Kid­nap.’

Los Angeles Times - - AT THE MOVIES - By Katie Walsh cal­en­dar@la­times.com

Halle Berry stars as a woman who pushes her mini­van, and her psy­che, to the limit while re­triev­ing her young son from ab­duc­tors in the scanty thriller “Kid­nap,” di­rected by Luis Pri­eto, writ­ten by Knate Lee. There’s not much more to it than that — this mom is fast, and is she ever fu­ri­ous.

This road-bound thriller takes place on the high­ways and by­ways of Louisiana, as Karla (Berry) goes in hot pur­suit of a pair of kid­nap­pers straight out of a John Waters movie.

They’ve snatched her son out from un­der her nose at the lo­cal fair, but as she de­clares, “You picked the wrong kid,” and, boy, did they ever. They never knew they’d have to tan­gle with a fierce wait­ress/sin­gle mom who’s got wheels and knows how to use them.

Co-pro­duced by Berry, the ve­hi­cle of­fers the star a chance to prove her phys­i­cal might in a low-bud­get genre piece. But there had to have been bet­ter screen­plays out there than this. Lee’s shal­low, ex­tremely dumb script should have been thrown di­rectly into the trash, not brought to the big screen.

Since Berry is most of­ten be­hind the wheel of her red mini­van (she pushes it all the way to 60 mph!) she ends up talk­ing to, shout­ing at and plead­ing with things that can’t talk back — other cars, the ra­dio, a photo, bill­boards, a garbage can.

Not only is the di­a­logue hor­ren­dous, but so many op­por­tu­ni­ties for in­ter­est­ing twists and turns are squan­dered along the way. Things that are teased early on, like a brew­ing cus­tody bat­tle, never pay off, the con­ver­sa­tion just il­lus­trat­ing that Karla will do any­thing to keep her son. No, there are no in­ter­est­ing re­veals or surprises — this is as straight­for­ward a story as it gets, and it is tis­sue-pa­per thin.

Berry’s per­for­mance is not nec­es­sar­ily “good,” but it is ef­fort­ful. She is at full throt­tle for al­most all of the run­ning time, wild-eyed, teeth bared in a Hal­loween­mask gri­mace. It is “Hys­te­ria: The Movie,” as she moans and wails to her­self in the car, re­peat­edly shouts at ran­dom passersby to “call 911!” while ca­reen­ing past them on the road, leav­ing a trail of bod­ies (in­clud­ing a cop) in her wake.

It’s a true won­der that no one ever ac­cuses her of be­ing crazy or out of her mind, which would have added some dy­namism to the tale.

But for all of Berry’s breath­less, screechy ef­fort, “Kid­nap” doesn’t con­tain any sus­pense or ten­sion. Per­haps it’s the script, or di­rec­tor Pri­eto’s ten­dency to shoot ac­tion scenes with quickly edited close-ups, flashes of images whizzing by like a strobe light. But there’s sim­ply no heart­stop­ping ac­tion — it’s all just a yawn-in­duc­ing snooze­fest that plods along even more pre­dictably than you could have imag­ined.

Berry does get a few awe­some mo­ments, which in­spired cheers and ap­plause from the au­di­ence, mostly when she dis­patches her ene­mies us­ing the unique fea­tures of her trusty mini­van.

If one thing’s for cer­tain, you’ll never look at the much-ma­ligned fam­ily ve­hi­cle the same way ever again.

Pho­to­graphs by Peter Lovino

HALLE BERRY, with Sage Cor­rea, has some good mo­ments in Luis Pri­eto’s poorly scripted thriller “Kid­nap.”

BERRY POR­TRAYS a sin­gle mom go­ing af­ter kid­nap­pers who have taken her son, played by Cor­rea.

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