Saturday, August 5, 2017

Kidnap: Pulp Friction

What happened to Halle Berry??? She was an Oscar winner. She murdered it in Monster's Ball. She got in to X-Men. She was a Bond girl! Where did everything just kind of fall apart for her? Was it actually Catwoman? How was she not given more and more roles that showcased her talents as an actress, rather than trying to replicate the magic by way of a movie called Things We Lost in the Fire? I mean... do any of you actually know what this is:
That came out (apparently to theaters) five years ago. Me, the dude who studies IMDB like it's my last chance to pass the BAR exam before I give up being a lawyer and open an imitation Irish pub, had not heard of this movie. It's movies like that one, like The Call she was in a few years ago, and now... Kidnap. And while the movie isn't as excruciatingly bad as it looks like it could (should) be... it's still too dumb for a quality actress like Halle Berry. We need her to start picking up better roles again because we don't want what happened to Cuba Gooding Jr. to happen to her. 
From Oscar... to Dolph Lundgren... is a dark, dark path.
Kidnap was actually a lot different than I was expecting. One, because I hadn't seen a single trailer for it, just several billboards advertising the film. Second, because said posters suggested to me that it was a movie that should be going to On Demand, not theaters. What I expected from the film was Berry's kid is kidnapped, she tracks down the kidnappers and takes the law into her own hand. There is also the R-rated aspect of the movie, which gave me a smidge of hope that we'd get to see Berry dispensing her own kind of (ultra violent) justice. However... I was only kinda right. Berry plays Karla, a diner waitress who is going through a divorce - her ex-husband is fighting for sole custody - look... it doesn't matter. None of this matters in the rest of the movie. There are no more scenes/characters from the diner later in the film. There is no sudden appearance of the ex-husband. This, apparently, is what we like to call in the movie business as "character building"... even though we didn't need it at all. Anyway, Karla and her son Frankie are at the park when Karla gets a phone call, looks away for a minute, and Frankie is kidnapped by hillbillies. Karla sees them shoving Frankie into the back of their car and decides to chase them down in her soccer mom minivan. This is the entire movie, folks. Karla involved in a high speed pursuit of her son's kidnappers with no phone, no weapon and no plan of how to get him back. And it's actually better than it sounds. That, by no means, means it's good... but it's better than you'd expect.

Somehow, some way, the filmmakers involved in this film found several ways to keep this movie interesting. I wasn't hanging on the edge of my seat, but I also wasn't wanting to turn the movie off (I watched this movie on my laptop... there's no way in hell I was going to pay to see it, so let's clear that up right now). And though we do care enough about Karla and her little boy, and we do root for her to save him somehow (like, seriously... even if she gets the car to stop, how is she supposed to overpower these hillbillies and get her kid back?), there are some seriously questionable moments in the film. Without a plan, even though we're watching the "action" happening on screen, there's always that little thing in the back of your mind going: what the hell is she planning to do? Why haven't they just stopped the car and shot her? These questions are dealt with... not intelligently... but not unwisely. It's always strange to watch a movie and realize that what you're watching isn't good, but it also isn't terrible. 

The film is rated R. The MPAA rating states it earned this rating due to "violence and peril". Okay. As movie goers we pretty much know what to expect when we see a movie is PG-13 due to violence and when a movie is rated R due to violence. PG-13 might give you some quick shots of blood, but there will be absolutely nothing that even encroaches upon 'gory'. R will give you blood. R will give you bones snapping and dismembered body parts and pretty much anything violence-related. I legitimately don't know how Kidnap got an R rating. There is one use of 'fuck' (perfectly allowed in PG-13) and the "violence" in the movie is so tame even a PG rating wouldn't be out of the question (though the thematic material around it could elevate it to PG-13). The only blood involved in the film have to do with a few car crashes that cause... wait for it... scrapes and bruises. The MPAA apparently thought these scrapes were violent enough that only an audience of 17-year-olds and above could handle it. The 'peril' by the way... all happens off screen. I want to be able to say how unfair I think it is for this movie to get the PG-13 rating (Dunkirk is above and beyond more violent and has much more peril than this film) and how it's going to hinder sales... but it's not like very many people are going to see this movie anyway. However, the teenager demographic (who is really the only people that will probably enjoy this movie) has been almost entirely eliminated by the unjustifiable R rating. 

Look, Kidnap was never going to be a success. Halle Berry doesn't have the pull that she should have. And the plot of the film (as well as the rating) aren't going to convince the average moviegoer to see the film. But, where do you release the movie? It's a little bit too dumb to get a wide release into theaters, but it's not dumb enough to garner a straight-to-Redbox release. It's just one of those movies that would've been kind of fun to watch back in the 90s when they used to make those pulpy made-for-TV movies on random Friday nights. But in 2017... there's just no place for it. But, it's harmless. There will be moments you're invested in, and there will moments when you're screaming at the screen for Karla to do something more. That's about it. It's one of the most average movies I've ever watched. And those who are already dubbing it the worst movie of 2017 went into it wanting it to be so. I though it was going to be near the bottom of the 2017 totem, but it's so unbelievably average, when I wake up tomorrow morning I won't remember a thing about it. At least bad movies will stick with you for a long time. 


No comments:

Post a Comment