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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
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.
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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 ...
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?
For kids who love thrills
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.