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With: Halle Berry, Sage Correa, Chris McGinn, Lew Temple, Jason George
Written by: Knate Lee
Directed by: Luis Prieto
MPAA Rating: R for violence and peril
Running Time: 94
Date: 08/04/2017

Kidnap (2017)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Child Fray

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Despite having spent some time on the shelf, this Halle Berry thriller is far from a dud; it's surprisingly taut and gripping, relentlessly suspenseful, and with only a few not-too-bright shortcuts.

In Kidnap, single New Orleans mom Karla Dyson (Halle Berry) works hard at a diner to support her young son Frankie (Sage Correa), but also loves to spend time with him at the park. When she is distracted by a bad news phone call — her ex-husband wants full custody — Frankie disappears.

She spots a woman shoving him in a car and Karla begins the chase. After many close calls and setbacks and quite a bit of destruction and mayhem on the road, Karla finds the kidnappers' house. Can she keep a cool head and be ready for whatever awaits inside?

Kidnap begins with a series of home movies, watching little Frankie grow up from a baby, with the voice of his mama cooing at him; it's a simple device, but it shows the depth of Karla's love and dedication. Add that to the threat of losing custody, and we're off. Kidnap's fast pace and spare, streamlined approach recalls classic thrillers like The Fugitive and Speed.

Spanish director Luis Prieto brings several fresh angles to his chase movie, edits timed to the beating of a heart, tilted angles, and close-ups crossed with wide-angle shots, all in an attempt to keep up the viewer's adrenaline. The sound design is likewise clever and creative, deliberately holding back on pounding music and using sounds of the road, i.e. tires screeching, gravel crunching, to heighten tension.

The backwoods-bumpkin bad guys played by Lew Temple and Chris McGinn are scary and nasty -- perfect villains for the Trump era -- and Berry proves her talent and star power by performing largely alone, and with extreme effectiveness.

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