Karla loves her son. She'd do anything for him.
Oh, she doesn't get to spend as much time with Frankie as she'd probably like, being a single mom and all. Her job as a waitress sucks up a lot of time. Her ex gets every other week with the kid, and he's angling for more. So when Karla and Frankie have a free afternoon together, she's determined to make the most of it.
One such afternoon, Karla buckles the 6-year-old in the back seat of her minivan and drives to the local ride-festooned amusement park. They ignore all the actual rides (we can only assume that Frankie has a fear of merry-go-rounds) and instead head to a playground where Frankiescampers and frolics, as 6-year-olds do. Frankie's not always in Karla's field of vision there, of course, but whenever she loses sight of him, Karla calls out "Marco!" Frankie shouts back "Polo!", and Karla knows all is still right with the world.
But one cannot scamper and frolic around a playground forever, not when one has presumably spent so much money to get into the amusement park. So they go to a nearby stage and listen to a band play.
But while they sit on a bench, Karla gets a phone call. She stands up, tells Frankie not to move a muscle and walks several paces away to talk. She doesn't actually watch her child while they're separated, for some reason … but she does occasionally shout, during her phone call, "Marco!"
But then, with one shout, she doesn't hear the comforting strain of "Polo!" Sure enough, Frankie has moved a muscle. Several of them, presumably. Karla continues to call "Marco!" throughout the park, interspersing it with calls of "Frankie!" (confusing onlookers to no end) before she suddenly spies her little boy being stuffed into an old 1980s-era Mustang by a total, horrifying stranger.
And there's clearly no car seat.
Well. That won't do at all. So Karla jumps into her minivan and peels out after the abductor.
After all Karla loves her son. And she'd do anything—anything—for him.
I could've really saved 349 words in the introduction by just repeating the name of the movie: Kidnap. That sums up this tale pretty well. A little boy gets kidnapped, and his mother will stop at nothing to get him back.
But thanks to the story's simplicity, there's little to distract us from Karla's love and drive to save her son. She's not unusual in that: I think most moms feel that same sort of incredible, wonderful and sometimes outlandishly oversized love for their kids. And in that sense, Kidnap is a poignant, if frenetic, illustration of just how powerful a mother's love for her child can be.
As Karla barrels down the Louisiana freeways, worried she's lost sight of that bluish-green Mustang, she begins to pray: "Hey, God," she says. She apologizes for only praying if someone's sick or in trouble, but … well, someone's in trouble. She prays to God that she won't lose sight of Frankie—won't lose him for good. "Give me this one thing, this one thing, God, I'll never, ever ask you for another thing for the rest of my life."
We're never given a clear reason why Frankie's taken, but we do learn his abductors are part of a kidnapping ring who apparently sell the kids they nap, and we know that human trafficking often involves pedophilia.
"As long as my son is in that car, I will not stop," Karla says. And she doesn't—including at stop signs, lights, or to avoid oncoming traffic. As such, we see plenty of mayhem: Cars crash, SUVs flip and lots of insurance claims are filed (presumably). People inside the vehicles are innocent casualties of this personal war, though we rarely see the human damage. But there are a few exceptions.
A motorcycle-riding police officer is crushed between the minivan and the mustang. The trio grinds off the road, and eventually the two cars swing apart, leaving the policeman lying motionless beside his cycle. (Karla doesn't check on the man, given that she has a son to rescue.) Frankie's abductor runs headlong into a female pedestrian, who bounces off the windshield and into the street below. (She writhes in the street in pain, but obviously still alive. Again, Karla doesn't stop, swerving around the injured woman in pursuit of her son.) The abductors also crash headlong into a truck that picked up Karla, apparently killing the driver. (It's not a gory death, but we do see his lifeless head lying against the steering wheel.)
Karla and the folks she's pursuing also suffer their share of injuries. Someone's thrown from a moving car, and we see that person's arms later covered with contusions and bruises. People hang off vehicles, where they're beaten by trees and brush. Someone's hand and arm are seemingly broken by a car door. Karla suffers so many crashes and mishaps that she bleeds from her nose and a few cuts on her face. At least one person dies in a car crash.
Someone drowns, too. Another is hit in the face with a shovel (apparently lethally). Still another is nearly strangled while driving. Shotguns are fired, injuring living things. Rifles are brandished. Revolvers are nearly pulled.
Crude or Profane Language
One f-word and about five s-words. We also hear a smattering of other objectionable language, including "b--ch," "d--n" and "h---." God's name is be misused about 30 times, twice with "d--n."
Drug and Alcohol Content
Other Negative Elements
We can say this much about Kidnap. It clips right along. It clocks in at a brisk 82 minutes, and much of its runtime is taken up by screeching tires and careening cars.
And the film's underlying message, such as it is, is just dandy. This mom loves her child so much that she'll do pert near anything for him. But all this love doesn't manifest itself in the healthiest of ways, obviously—at least not for those sharing the road with Karla. In trying to save her son, she sends plenty of other folks to the hospital and morgue. The film, while not as graphically violent as many R-rated actioners, still embraces frenzy, road-based insanity and the occasional fatality. And the chase does seem to take a toll on Karla's sanity at times. At one of the movie's rare pauses for dialogue, she tells her son's kidnappers that they can access all of her credit cards if they'll just give her son back, promising that she won't even tell the police about them. Why, she won't even give the cops the kidnappers' license plate number. Never mind that the kidnapper's car doesn't have a license plate. Or that, given the mayhem both Karla and the kidnappers have caused on the road, law enforcement may be interested in giving everyone involved a strict talking to. Kidnap isn't as bad as it could be, but that doesn't make it good. This movie's speed limit is higher than its IQ.
Other Belief Systems
Readability Age Range
Halle Berry as Karla Dyson; Sage Correa as Frankie; Chris McGinn as Margo; Lew Temple as Terry
Knate Lee ( )
August 4, 2017