“KIDNAP” Movie Review (and Moms Night Out) by Andrea Santo Felcone

Halle Berry Kidnap Movie

Halle Berry, New York City’s “KIDNAP” advanced screening

It had been one of those days, so I was really looking forward to the “KIDNAP” movie advanced screening–graciously set up for me, by Motherhood Later. Normally, I wouldn’t go to a kidnapping movie. It’s really the last place you’d find me. I don’t find it relaxing to watch children getting snatched; call me crazy. In fact, that feeling–that we probably all have had at one point in our lives, where for just one second you can’t find your child, in a store, or a park–is about one of the worst panicky feelings I’ve ever had. So, as parents, do we want to see kidnapping as part of what entertains us? I wasn’t sure; it seems odd to want to be entertained in that way. But, maybe these kinds of movies help us process our fears? I was willing to be open-minded. And, this screening promised a special appearance by Halle Berry herself, and apparently my desire to see an A-list celebrity outweighed my anxiety.

So, I grabbed a friend and we headed to NYC for this advanced screening. As a group of us waited to be allowed into the theater; we chatted. Apparently, some of the people in line with us were contest winners. They’d won the additional opportunity to “meet and greet” the actress. We learned this from a charming NJ couple we met. They were so excited to meet Halle, their energy was infectious. Eventually the contest winners were whisked off and my friend and I were led, with the rest of the screening invitees, to a small movie theater. (There, we were treated to a “Don’t Mess with Mom” t-shirt and a “KIDNAP” poster.)kidnap movie poster

As we debated running for popcorn, Halle Berry appeared. She is stunning, as you’d imagine, in that really cool way, where she doesn’t appear to notice her own radiance. (I imagine if I was wearing the same over-sized t-shirt she was wearing, I would look shabby, but she looked chic.) Beyond that, she is an eloquent speaker and it was clear she was making an impassioned plea for moviegoers to support strong female-centered movies. (Ms. Berry is a producer of “KIDNAP” and we later learned it has taken several years for this film to see the light of day.) On the heels of this summer’s blockbuster “Wonder Woman,” noted for its female director, there seems to be momentum gaining in this arena, that as a woman, I can easily support.

After Halle spoke, she surprised us by staying and watching the movie. She engaged with the other moviegoers in a very genuine way. She introduced Chris McGinn, sitting behind her, who plays the movie’s female villainous kidnapper (as part of a kidnapping couple). That was a fun bonus, made even more fun when at the film’s end, Chris provided inside details about the making of the movie.

Don’t let the beginning of “KIDNAP” fool you. It will appear technically low-budget and Halle’s character, “Karla,” comes across as stiff when cooing to her baby. (This surprised me as she’s such an accomplished actress.) But, this montage of her son as a baby, and then as a young toddler, serves its purpose–and I started steeling myself for the inevitable kidnapping scene. Thankfully, it isn’t too upsetting, as everything is a little “over the top,” as Karla does several things most parents would NEVER do–leaves a 6-year-old completely unattended in a crowded amusement park, right after telling every stranger around her, her son’s first name, etc. Once she realizes he has been abducted (she sees him being wrestled into a car), in the panic that ensues, she loses her phone. This of course, adds to the drama … Karla is really on her own now, in hot pursuit of her son as she flies into her minivan (of course) vowing she’ll never let him go.

It’s quite an adrenaline ride from there. This action-thriller delivers in the heart-pounding rush department. It becomes clear early on that Karla will do anything–and I mean anything–to rescue her son. Karla is a struggling waitress in the middle of a painful divorce and her son Frankie (played by Sage Correa) is her whole world. We see her pain and feel her panic as she tries to clear her head enough to act during an unbelievably painful situation.

Several frantic car chase scenes ensue. Karla’s on a vigilante mission. Your heart’s in your throat as you watch her make snap decisions and put her life (and very possibly her son’s) at risk, time and time again. But snap decisions are all she’s got, as the authorities (when she can finally get their attention) are shown to be fairly useless or slow to respond. Not so for Karla. Karla won’t take her foot off the gas pedal, nor her eyes off the kidnappers’ car, and in so doing, there’s a lot of collateral damage in this movie. Innocent bystanders, a Good Samaritan, and a police officer are killed. In truth we don’t know how many, as Karla doesn’t wait around to mourn these victims; she’s in pursuit of her son and won’t stop. This begs the question of whether one would do the same in her situation. Because, central to the movie’s core, is the key question: “What length would you go to save your child?”

I found some of these scenes too graphic–it earns its R rating–but, thankfully, the violence didn’t overpower the thrilling parts for me. I found myself cheering for Karla in her attempts to overpower the kidnappers (played most effectively by Chris McGinn and Lew Temple). Although “KIDNAP”doesn’t provide a complicated plot, there are some unanticipated twists, and a few “I didn’t see that coming” moments. Even if you think you know exactly how this will play out–you do–and you don’t.

What “KIDNAP” does provide is high-octane action and pure escape. It’s fast, in pacing, and in actual length–running 1 hour and 34 minutes (although it felt shorter). It’s a jump-out-of-your-seat film that provides the opportunity to applaud a strong heroine and support Halle Berry–a genuinely warm celebrity, who (lucky for that couple from NJ) graciously hugged every one of that night’s contest winners.

You can watch the trailer here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4-hqw84tW80&t=3s

“KIDNAP” opens today, Friday, August 4. Rated: R. #KidnapMovie

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  1. One Response to ““KIDNAP” Movie Review (and Moms Night Out) by Andrea Santo Felcone”

  2. Great synopsis of what I thought was an edge of your seat never stop action picture. I am one half of that New Jersey couple who got to meet, hug and take pictures with Halle Berry. She was so nice and, as you might expect, beautiful. I thought she was excellent in the movie, showing panic, fear and amazing determination to get her son back at all costs, a very believable performance. I enjoyed Kidnap and would recommend it – be prepared for a fast moving thrill ride.

    By John Schaffer on Aug 4, 2017