It’s been a while since Halle Berry has taken on a role that allowed her to flex her Oscar-winning skills. I’m talking about one that actually allows her to take charge, break traffic laws, and kick some ass. But alas, here comes Kidnap, a high-speed thriller that puts her in the driver’s seat of a remarkably tough minivan chasing down a couple who abducted her six-year-old son. It’s wild, unbelievable, yet a ridiculously fun watch. It’s about time someone other than a middle-aged white guy was in a foolish action movie, so I am all the way in for this.
Berry plays Karla, a single mother to Frankie (Sage Correa) who is kidnapped, at the park with his mom, in broad daylight. She leaves him for just a moment to answer a quick call, and by the time she hangs up the phone Frankie is gone. After searching for him around the park for a few minutes, checking the slides and underneath the benches, she finally spots him just as he is being shoved inside of a beat-up mustang by an unidentified blonde woman.
She goes from a frazzled yet happy mom to a wild-eyed terror on the freeway fueled by fear and rage. Karla follows her son’s abductors for miles across highways, through open wastelands and into the next town—causing about 20 different car accidents along the way.
After an arduous chase, she finally encounters the woman and punches her out cold before throwing her onto the street. Hell hath no fury like a mother whose child has been put in danger. And Berry proves every bit of that in her performance. While we’re given very little back story about her character (one of the film’s flaws), it’s hinted that Frankie’s dad has moved on to a new relationship and might be seeking custody of Frankie, which has made her that much more protective of her son. Kidnap’s thin story line has no real layers, but it has a ton of heart—even when it’s demonstrated by Karla rolling up to the kidnappers’ home with a loaded shotgun. KIDNAP allows Berry the authority to be a Black woman action hero amid a summer of white women-led blockbusters (Wonder Woman, Atomic Blonde). She’s not in high heels, wielding a sword, or skilled with a killer uppercut, she’s a regular mom in sneakers with an over-the-shoulder sack bag who refuses to stand by idly as her son’s life is at stake. If that’s not a superhero, I don’t know what is.