Halle Berry stars as a woman who pushes her minivan — and her psyche — to the limit while retrieving her son from abductors in “Kidnap,” directed by Luis Prieto.
There’s not much more to it than that — this mom is fast and boy, is she furious.
This road-bound thriller takes place on the highways and byways of Louisiana, as Carla (Berry) pursues of a pair of kidnappers straight out of a John Waters movie. They snatched her son at the local fair but, as she declares, “you picked the wrong kid,” and she’s right. They never knew they would have to tangle with a fierce single mom who’s got wheels and knows how to use them.
Produced by Berry, the vehicle offers the star a chance to prove her physical might in a low-budget genre piece. But the shallow, dumb script should have been thrown in the trash, not brought to the big screen. Since Berry is most often behind the wheel of her red minivan (she pushes it to 60 mph!), she ends up talking to, shouting at and pleading with things that can’t talk back — other cars, the radio, a photo, billboards, a garbage can.
The dialogue is horrendous, and many opportunities for interesting twists and turns are squandered. Things that are teased early on, like a brewing custody battle, never pay off.
Berry’s performance is not necessarily “good,” but it is full of effort. She is at full-throttle for most of the running time, wild-eyed, teeth bared in a Halloween mask grimace. This is “Hysteria: The Movie,” as she moans and wails to herself in the car, repeatedly shouts at random passersby to call 911 while careening past them, leaving a trail of bodies (including a cop) in her wake. It’s a wonder no one ever accuses her of being crazy, which would have added some dynamism to the tale.
But for all of Berry’s breathless, screechy effort, “Kidnap” doesn’t contain any suspense or tension. Perhaps it’s the script, or Prieto’s tendency to shoot action scenes with quickly edited close-ups, flashes of images whizzing by like a strobe light. But there’s no heart-stopping action — it’s all a yawn-inducing snoozefest that plods along even more predictably than you could have imagined.
Berry does get a few awesome moments, mostly when she dispatches her enemies using unique features of her trusty minivan. If one thing’s for certain, you’ll never look at the much-maligned family vehicle the same way again.
Rated R for violence and peril. 1:22. Fayette, Frankfort, Hamburg, Nicholasville, Richmond, Winchester.