Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
Kidnap Movie Poster Image
Popular with kids
Children in peril in tense, gripping Halle Berry thriller.
  • R
  • 2017
  • 94 minutes

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 17 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 13 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Celebrates bravery and perseverance, but also asserts that it's not helpful to trust the police. And it seems to argue that murder, mayhem, and destruction are OK in the name of the right cause.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Karla is a strong woman who continues her pursuit in the face of sheer terror, as well as many obstacles. That said, her acts of violence go largely unpunished, and she never stops to help any other victims while pursuing her son.


Children in peril. A knife is held to a child's throat, and a child is held out the open door of a moving vehicle. Guns and shooting. Dead bodies. Many car/vehicle crashes. Hit/hurt pedestrians, injured/killed motorists. Hitting with a shovel. Fighting, struggling, choking. Minor bloody wounds. Angry dog. A dog is shot.


A use of "f--k," and a few uses of "s--t." Also "son of a bitch," "goddamn," "oh God," and "hell."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Kidnap is an extremely tense and intense thriller about a mom (Halle Berry) pursuing her kidnapped son. A child is taken from the park when his mother is briefly distracted, a scenario that could upset many parents. Expect several scenes of children in peril, such as a knife held to a child's throat and a child held from the open door of a moving vehicle. There are also guns and shooting, car crashes, hit/hurt pedestrians, and injured/killed motorists. Characters struggle, fight, choke each other, and hit each other with blunt objects; there's a little blood. A dog is shot. Language includes a use of "f--k," plus "s--t," "bitch," and more. Sex, consumerism, and substance use aren't issues. But the movie is relentlessly suspenseful and not for the easily distressed.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bykveon m. August 3, 2017

What do you mean age 15 and up give common sense media a break

12 year olds are mature enough to handle all of this listen to me
Adult Written byRetromomma70 February 17, 2021

Great film to teach to your kids about safety

Extremely intense! Very anxiety-inducing but an important message about keeping your kids close.
Kid, 11 years old April 2, 2021


This film is great. Many jmpscares but not in a horror way. Tense scenes. Many car crashes, knives, choking, hitting with a shovel, children being held out of a... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byFunnyGoblin888 November 6, 2020

Great suspense, but scary with violence and language

I think this is a good movie. I don't think it is worth spending $30 and going to the theater, but a good movie for movie night. Not for kids because it is... Continue reading

What's the story?

In KIDNAP, single New Orleans mom Karla Dyson (Halle Berry) works hard to support her young son, Frankie (Sage Correa), but also loves to spend time with him at the park. When she's distracted by a phone call with bad news -- her ex-husband wants full custody -- Frankie disappears. Karla spots a woman shoving him in a car, and she immediately begins the chase. After many close calls and setbacks and quite a bit of destruction and mayhem on the road, Karla finds the kidnappers' house. Can she keep a cool head and be ready for whatever waits inside?

Is it any good?

Despite having spent some time on the shelf, this thriller is far from a dud; it's surprisingly gripping, as well as relentlessly suspenseful, and it takes only a few not-too-bright shortcuts. Kidnap begins with a series of home movies, watching little Frankie grow up from babyhood, with the voice of his mama cooing at him. It's a simple device, but it conveys the depth of Karla's love and dedication to her son. Add that to the threat of losing custody, and we're off. Kidnap's fast pace and spare, streamlined approach recalls classic thrillers like The Fugitive and Speed.

Spanish director Luis Prieto brings several fresh angles to his chase movie -- edits timed to the beating of a heart, tilted angles, and close-ups crossed with wide-angle shots -- all in an attempt to keep the viewer's adrenaline spiked. The sound design is likewise clever and creative, deliberately holding back on pounding music and using sounds of the road (tires screeching, gravel crunching) to heighten tension. The backwoods-bumpkin bad guys played by Lew Temple and Chris McGinn are scary and nasty, and Berry proves her talent and star power by performing largely alone -- and extremely effectively.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Kidnap's violence. Is it thrilling or disturbing? How does seeing a child in peril change the feel of the violence? What's the impact of media violence on kids?

  • Why do you think Karla chooses not to trust the police? What would you have done in her place? Are her choices/actions justified by her situation?

  • Is Karla a role model, in spite of all the destruction her ordeal causes -- and the lack of consequences?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love thrills

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