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‘Kidnap’ is gimmicky, but better than expected


Published: Sep 01, 2017

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Kidnap (Rated C)

Cast: Halle Berry, Sage Correa, Lew Temple, Chris McGinn

Genre: Thriller

Dwight’s Rating: Not bad

“Idle hands are the Devil’s workshop” — or “playthings”, or “tools”, or “the Devil makes work for idle hands”.

You’ve probably heard numerous variations of that well-known saying, rooted in scripture. There are also warnings about idle minds.

But what of idle eyes at the end of a long hot summer? With few even halfway-decent options in local theaters right now, many may find themselves observing some things they had no intention of ever seeing.

We’re at that horrible point that comes every year — the end of August; the end of the summer movie period; Labour Day weekend in the US; and the final weekend before public schools reopen here in The Bahamas. The assumption is that nobody’s got time for the movies!

As such, things are pretty bleak! Last week’s major release is a movie I’d have to be paid to watch. So that’s a ”no thank you very much” to “Birth of the Dragon”. (Perhaps I’ll catch it on one of our local TV stations a month or so after all Internet, cable and satellite services cease operations following the apocalypse.)

This weekend ain’t lookin’ good right now either, as no new films are premiering in local theaters today. And with the opening of the NFL season on Thursday, next weekend is looking like a dud too.

No one would fault you for seriously considering reading the dictionary or the phone directory instead of seeing most of what’s left amongst the tumbleweeds right now at the cinema. But if you need a couple hours in a cool, dark room, away from the back-to-school madness, there are shockingly many things worse than spending some time with Halle Berry in “Kidnap”.

Yes, you may recall a few weeks ago when Halle Berry’s latest thriller “Kidnap” failed to make it here locally on its U.S. release date. I wrote that it was probably for the best, as it seemed destined to be on heavy rotation soon on “Lifetime” (or its even crueler sister network “Lifetime Movies”, the former “LMN”). Like a dominatrix, these networks seem only to derive pleasure from movies inflicting torture or mental anguish on poor, innocent women. (“Kidnap” appeared primed to become a network signature feature.)

Alas, it did make it here one week later. And here I am, two weeks after that date, now reviewing it. “Kidnap” is still largely a Lifetime-grade flick, but it is does do reasonably well as a thriller, albeit one that is filled with some very convenient obstacles in the way of our heroine.

Berry plays single mother Karla Dyson. A typical afternoon in the park turns into a nightmare when kidnappers snatch her young son Frankie. With no cellphone and no time to wait for police, Dyson jumps into her car to follow the vehicle that holds Frankie. As the pursuit turns into a frantic, high-speed chase, Karla must risk everything and push herself to the limit to save her beloved child.

Yes, you read right. No cellphone! And yes, the movie is set in modern times. The reason is not implausible, as you’ll see. But again, how very convenient! Seemingly everything that could go wrong goes wrong. Thankfully, the writing gods had some mercy on poor Karla, and she was spared having to deal with a swarm of bees, or plague of locusts, an accidental release of SARS, or a dinosaur attack. But probably just barely!

Then, however, there are Karla’s very own bad decisions. We can understand that the kidnapping of a child is a truly frightening and horrific circumstance, but would one entirely lose all sense of reason and good judgment so quickly?

Those types of questions, and “what in God’s name is she doing?”, will persist throughout the movie. But as ”thrillers” go, “Kidnap” does elicit some screaming and shouting at the screen, and some jumping, dodging, ducking during some fairly decent highway chase scenes. And in what is sad indictment of the career of an Oscar-winning actress, this is one of Berry’s better performances in recent years.

“Kidnap” is gimmicky, but I was expecting a whole lot worse. And if you’re desperate for something to see — and even if you are not desperate — this certainly beats sitting in traffic or standing in a long line for back-to-school supplies.

Unfortunately, with no new films this week, no “Game of Thrones” on TV, the start of the Fall TV season still weeks away, a whole week before the start of the NFL season, and no sports other than baseball to watch, just what will these idle eyes be forced to view over the next few days?

Pray for me!


• Dwight Strachan is the host/producer of “ Morning Blend” on Guardian Radio. He is a television producer and writer, and an avid TV history and film buff. Email dwight@nasguard.com and follow him on twitter @morningblend969.


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