The Movie Waffler New to VOD - A KIND OF KIDNAPPING | The Movie Waffler


A kidnapped politician attempts to use the situation to generate some much needed sympathy among the public.

Review by Benjamin Poole

Directed by: Dan Clark

Starring: Patrick Baladi, Kelly Wenham, Jack Parry-Jones, Olivia Poulet

A Kind of Kidnapping poster

What an electrifying and unpredictable experience A Kind of Kidnapping, writer/director Dan Clark's debut feature, turns out to be. We open within the familiar confines of Brit-Com, with a struggling young couple - Maggie (Kelly Wenham, in a mercurial and dynamic performance) and Brian (Jack Parry-Jones, her straight man) - suffering the urban gloom of modern Britain: post Covid malaise, rising rents and Brexit not getting done, not ever. Glimpsed in the background and heard on the radio are smug politicians, whose slick platitudes add insult to injury. They're to blame, yeah? (That old Stewart Lee joke about everyone hating the Tories but them still getting voted in rings odiously truer each passing month). The conventional set-up, however, leads to a more offbeat affair, with each narrative layer peeling back to reveal dark progressions and biting satire. Brian, a mild-mannered Uber driver, feels he is punching with Maggie, an aspiring actor/actual waitress gf with a wall-to-wall smile who apparently favours "bad boys." Bringing home droopy flowers from the supermarket when she's naused up another audition isn't quite cutting it. Brian needs to do something bigger; to make a statement, to save the relationship, to kick back against the pricks...

A Kind of Kidnapping review

The brilliant Patrick Baladi plays a cross between shifty Neil from Swindon and his more malignant Line of Duty role (and who, according to imdb, is the son of Colonel Gadaffi's wife's gynaecologist - learn something new every day) in the guise of career politician Hardy: "Tory Blair," a telly pundit dubs him. Smart suited and glibly dismissive, Hardy is a prime candidate for the shenanigans implied by the title. And, thus, soon enough the location contracts to a dimly lit air bnb, where Hardy wakes up tied to a chair loomed over by two idiots in panda masks. The bear-faced goons demand ransom and tote a gun, but have no obvious idea of what they're doing: "If you don’t shut up I'm going to put a bullet in your dick." "You mean slip it down the Jap's eye or something?" "Jap's eye is not very PC." "Sorry"- !

Exchanges such as the above characterise the script, which rips along at a pace. Clark is a veteran writer-of and performer-in culty situation-comedy (How Not to Live Your Life, The Estate Agents), and the characters here abide within the narrative frameworks of that genre, in the sense that they are all humorously trapped within their given conditions (the cast is drawn from the BritCom well too, with The Thick of It's Olivia Poulet a welcome presence as Hardy's wife who doesn't want him back, thanks very much - ha!). However, along with the silly, genuinely funny jokes (Maggie overacting for a yoghurt commercial was a fave), what makes A Kind of Kidnapping such a delight is how impetuous it is, how it subverts the expectations the generic circumstances imply. Perhaps the couple's approbation towards Hardy is conveniently simplistic, and, furthermore, Brian and Maggie are possibly not as virtuous as their stereotyping would suggest. Maybe that wall-to-wall smile is actually the predatory grin of a shark. As the film continues, opportunist Hardy, who is, after all, a politician, begins to see the potential in his situation...

A Kind of Kidnapping review

My favourite types of stories are the ones where ordinary people make daft, fatal mistakes and get in too far over their heads (viz. the entire Coen brothers output, including The Tragedy of Macbeth), and A Kind of Kidnapping is a dark treat of this ilk. The mishaps and plot chicaneries which befall our hapless trio are unguessable and actually quite sinister. Opening with the reveal of the kidnap, the ensuing narrative structure which Clark uses enables information to be delivered via rebounding flashback, portioning information about our characters which confronts our sympathies, making them much more than the assumed archetypes. A particularly acerbic disregard for tradition is Maggie, who exists as a refute to the rote sit-com female role wherein the woman is a thinly drawn stoic foil to male folly (ie, anything Ricky Gervais ever wrote). Aided by Wenham's urgent performance, Maggie is a more complex and flawed character, whose motives may well be less righteous than she protests. An early red flag is her whinge that she wants to be "famous," along with her harsher in hindsight response to service complaints (sorry, but I was with Hardy on that one...).

A Kind of Kidnapping review

An addictive black comedy, A Kind of Kidnapping is much tighter and taut than the ties which Maggie and Brian believe they've restrained Hardy with, and, just like the kidnapped politico, similarly breaks through its genre trappings to engender further comical chaos. With its sly sense of humour and playful approach to thriller tropes, A Kind of Kidnapping is a corker. Get caught up in it.

A Kind of Kidnapping is on UK/ROI VOD now.

2023 movie reviews