NEW YORK — The compact thriller “Kidnap” (Aviron) has Halle Berry’s expressive face going for it, but not a whole lot else. The film is less a story about a mother’s enduring love and sacrifice for her young son than it is a long drive in an amazingly durable minivan.
Berry is Karla, a divorced waitress who’s mom to 6-year-old Frankie (Sage Correa). She’s about to get into a custody battle with her ex-husband when Frankie is abducted from a park by two cretinous goons, Margo and Terry (Chris McGinn and Lew Temple).
For what purpose Frankie has been snatched is a bit murky. Police in New Orleans issue an Amber Alert, but Karla takes off in pursuit, managing to keep the kidnappers always in view while speeding down highways — occasionally knocking aside bystanders and the odd police officer like so many bowling pins.
Director Luis Prieto and screenwriter Knate Lee have no interest in character development and motivation. There’s a mother and child, the kid is taken, Mama reverts to primeval maternal-warrior instinct, and the race is on.
Karla has a few interactions with the kidnappers, who are adept at lying about whether they’ll take her money instead of her son.
“Wherever you go, I will be right behind you — no matter what,” she vows. Ah. Got it. And so she is, although her chase, when it’s not veering into melodrama, often includes unintentional comedic moments meant to induce audience cheering.
The film contains gun and physical violence, considerable vehicular mayhem as well as fleeting profanity and rough language. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III — adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R — restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.