Four years after Halle Berry set out to save an abducted Abigail Breslin in The Call, Kidnap finds her in child-rescue mode again—and this time (as ads should have screamed) it’s personal. Better than its two years on the shelf would suggest, Kidnap casts Berry as Karla Dyson, a divorced Louisiana waitress in the midst of a custody battle over her 6-year-old son Frankie (Sage Correa). When the boy is stolen in front of her eyes from a fairground, Karla sets out in pursuit, and proves just how fit a mother she is.
The first 20 minutes or so, as Karla races through highway traffic after the kidnappers’ car, makes you hopeful that Kidnap's creators might try to sustain a feature-length, nonstop vehicle chase: Speed meets Taken. Instead, there are interruptions as the movie stirs ’70s-style rednecksploitation into the mix once our hero confronts the villains. Even then, though, director Luis Prieto keeps the pacing swift and the action dynamic as we race through a stripped-down 81-minute running time.
Kidnap may strain plausibility, but it's no more absurd than Taken, and it’s a kick to watch Karla, a woman with no particular set of skills, become a capable warrior based on pure maternal ferocity. Berry is compelling in her pursuit of Frankie, even if screenwriter Knate Lee saddles her with too many talking-to-herself moments (she even has a “God, I know I never pray to you…” bit). On the plus side, the film provides a consistent string of “You go, Halle!” beats to keep an audience engaged. If you’re looking for some lean, mean, unpretentious action amid the summer-blockbuster bloat, you’ll want to strap in.