Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - STYLE - PIERS MARCHANT

Much in the abrupt man­ner of this flimsy ex­cuse of a thriller, let’s cut right to the chase: Kid­nap might be the worst nonan­i­mated film of the sum­mer (Yes, The Emoji Movie, you can breathe easy.). Rather than waste time and en­ergy dis­sect­ing a script so thin and trans­par­ent it should have been scrawled on plas­tic wrap, let’s just en­joy some of its most out­stand­ing id­io­cies, shall we? Spoil­ers abound, but is it pos­si­ble to truly “spoil” some­thing al­ready so com­pletely rot­ted out? Seems un­likely.

1. We meet Karla (Halle Berry, who is also given a pro­ducer credit, sug­gest­ing her agent isn’t re­ally do­ing her any fa­vors) as she fin­ishes her shift as an L.A. wait­ress, tak­ing her adorable 6-year-old son, Frankie (Sage Cor­rea), out to an amuse­ment park. While there,

Karla is mo­men­tar­ily dis­tracted by a phone call from her at­tor­ney — turns out her ex is look­ing for pri­mary cus­tody (which likely wouldn’t hap­pen un­less maybe the judge got to see her in reck­less ac­tion). While speak­ing with her lawyer, Karla in­ex­pli­ca­bly turns her back on Frankie, and in the 20 sec­onds or so she speaks be­fore her phone dies, she is look­ing di­rectly away from her son, even though she keeps in­ter­rupt­ing the con­ver­sa­tion to call out “Marco” to him, in or­der to hear his “Polo” re­sponse. Mightn’t it have just been eas­ier to keep your at­ten­tion on him in the first place?

2. In keep­ing with the shame­less script, di­rec­tor Luis Pri­eto stages scenes in only the most ob­vi­ous ways pos­si­ble: The mo­ment of panic in which Karla re­al­izes her son is miss­ing is rep­re­sented by the cam­era swirling around her, ex­actly the way prac­ti­cally ev­ery other film in his­tory has por­trayed such con­fu­sion. Ac­tion scenes, such as they are, are so choppy and ill-edited it’s vir­tu­ally im­pos­si­ble to tell what is ac­tu­ally hap­pen­ing.

3. Im­me­di­ately af­ter her son is snatched, Karla spots the kid’s ab­duc­tor, a heavy­set blond woman with stringy hair, stuff­ing the boy into a gar­ish, green, ’80s-era Mus­tang GT, with rear-win­dow lou­vers and black front-end cover. For­tu­nately for the shrewd kid­nap­pers, they thought to re­move the li­cense plate rather than be, um, eas­ily iden­ti­fied. Good think­ing!

4. The car speeds off down a free­way with Karla in hot pur­suit in her red mini­van, putting ev­ery­one around her at risk, but she doesn’t stop for half a sec­ond, even af­ter caus­ing a mas­sive crash that forces an SUV be­hind her to spin out of con­trol and roll over sev­eral times. Through­out the film, Karla shows a shock­ing lack of con­cern for any of the col­lat­eral dam­age she causes en route to sav­ing Frankie: A mo­tor­cy­cle cop gets smushed be­tween her mini­van and the Mus­tang; nu­mer­ous other cars are slammed into; a pedes­trian cross­ing the road gets hit by the perps; a good Samar­i­tan in a com­mer­cial truck gets rammed off the road. For each of these hor­rific crashes, Karla peers into her rear-view mir­ror a sec­ond, hunches her shoul­ders down, gri­maces, and speeds on without an­other thought.

5. Stop­ping by a lo­cal po­lice precinct to re­port the ab­duc­tion, Karla notes a bunch of Miss­ing Chil­dren posters tacked to the wall and mut­ters to her­self that all these par­ents did the ex­act same thing she’s do­ing and got nowhere. She de­cides the bet­ter course of ac­tion is to go full vig­i­lante and find Frankie by her­self. Nat­u­rally, her in­stincts prove 100 per­cent cor­rect.

6. As a means of con­vey­ing in­for­ma­tion, Knate Lee’s “script” calls for Karla to talk in­ces­santly to her­self in the car, nar­rat­ing her dilemma (“So now what’s the plan?” she asks her­self at one point, quickly con­clud­ing that she hasn’t got one) pretty much so for­mer Os­car-win­ner Berry has some­thing to do other than grit her teeth and bleed out the nose. She also has a pen­chant for broad ex­clam­a­tory state­ments (“Wher­ever you go, I’ll be right be­hind you, no mat­ter what!” and so forth). The ef­fect is like over­hear­ing a young boy play­ing with his GI Joes.

7. To quickly recap the kid­nap­pers’ scheme: They go to a busy park to snatch a kid in broad day­light with hun­dreds of wit­nesses. They then plan to take this child — in their ridicu­lous get­away car — many miles away to their coun­try home, where they stash their stolen chil­dren in a garage at­tic to sell to a “mid­dle­man” for a huge amount of money. Based on their mod­est sur­round­ings and the lack of qual­ity dental care of the pair, it’s safe to say the whole kid-ab­duc­tion bit hasn’t treated them ter­ri­bly well so far, but a per­son can still dream.

8. Dou­bling down, af­ter stop­ping the car, evil Margo (Chris McGinn) — clad in a “Love Taker” T-shirt, who maybe didn’t re­al­ize how on the nose her fash­ion choice might have been that morn­ing — climbs into the back­seat of Karla’s mini­van in or­der to di­rect her to a bank where she can ac­quire $10,000 to pay them for her son’s re­turn. That does, in fact, sound like a lu­di­crous plan, but even that is bril­liant com­pared to Margo’s next move, which is to wait un­til Karla is driv­ing through a tun­nel and then at­tempt to stran­gle her while she is driv­ing the car. This doesn’t turn out well for her.

9. Upon dis­patch­ing the hap­less male kid­nap­per, Terry (Lew Tem­ple), also via her now-ut­terly de­stroyed mini­van, Karla uses the car’s still-func­tion­ing GPS to tell her ex­actly where to go to find Terry and Margo’s se­cret hide­out. Some­how, she finds the place very eas­ily, even while wan­der­ing aim­lessly in the woods to find it.

10. Upon ar­rival, skulk­ing around the house, Karla thinks to call 911. The dis­patcher al­most im­me­di­ately tri­an­gu­lates her po­si­tion and prom­ises many squad cars full of an­gry cops in a few short min­utes. Rather than hide and wait, Kara takes it on her­self to roam around in search of her son, whom she finds, along with a pair of other snatched kids.

11. In the only time where things don’t seem to hap­pen im­me­di­ately, the cops de­lay their ar­rival un­til af­ter Karla has done fi­nal bat­tle with Margo, whose guard dog doesn’t think to make so much as a yip un­til Karla opens the door to its room. Af­ter tear­ing af­ter her and Frankie, with Margo in hot pur­suit, the dog seems to van­ish into the ether. Maybe it was never re­ally there.

12. Af­ter the cops fi­nally get to the house in time to wrap Karla and the kids in sur­vival blan­kets, we hear the lo­cal news broad­cast de­scrib­ing her heroic ac­tions, and the po­lice prais­ing her “un­prece­dented civil­ian pur­suit,” as op­posed to ar­rest­ing her for killing a score of in­no­cent by­standers. The end cred­its come up so fast, it’s as if the Kid­nap film­mak­ers were em­bar­rassed for us that we had stuck around that long.

Karla (Halle Berry) chases af­ter the bad peo­ple who stole her son in Kid­nap, the Luis Pri­eto movie that’s been sit­ting on the shelf for three years.

When her son, Frankie (Sage Cor­rea), is kid­napped, Karla (Halle Berry) takes the law into her own hands in the chase thriller Kid­nap.

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