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Kidnapping Inc. – Sundance 2024 (Film Review)

2 min read

Like many a gangster flick, Kidnapping Inc. begins with a body in the trunk and two crooks leering over the poor soul. Except the kidnappers are a pair of hapless Haitians and the bloody boot won't shut properly. This is a story we've seen before, but not through this particular lens. A theme of this year's Film Festival.

The film is a darkly comedic exploration of Haiti's kidnapping crisis, highlighted by the opening text that reveals the shocking statistics. Doc (Jasmuel Andri) and Zoe (Rolapthon Mercure) are the kidnappers tasked with a simple gig: abduct the son of a politician and deliver him to a handler. They've already done the hard part, but things don't go as planned and not everything is as it seems. 

Director Bruno Mourral comes out swinging with a riotous opening act that seems to set up its premise, only for that to be flipped — and flipped again — as the film changes direction over and over. Accentuated by some eccentric editing and camera work, and anchored by its convincing lead performances, the film has a madcap energy that's hard not to love. Scattered in amongst all this are a few laugh-out-loud moments and some deliciously twisted comedic violence.

Gessica Geneus and Rolaphton Mercure screaming inside a car.
Sundance Institute

Yet, unfortunately, the film runs out of steam pretty quickly. Things slow down as Mourral and writers Jasmuel Andri (pulling double duties!) and Gilbert Mirambeau Jr. introduce a myriad of characters, all corrupt people in power pulling the strings tied to the abduction. It does serve a purpose, as Kidnapping Inc. is ultimately about the corruption, poverty and class division present in Haiti, but it doesn't have the same bite and energy as the beginning. What expanding the scope does do, however, is highlight Haitian culture; the food, the music, and most importantly, the people.

The film paints an empathetic picture of a people generally doing what they can to survive. Doc in particular has a wonderful arc that sees his more sympathetic side come out even when the situation spirals out of control. Even Zoe, who gets dangerously close to becoming irredeemable, has a few touching moments that hammer home how unfair life can be for Haitians just trying to get by.

It's a tricky balancing act to pull off, a bonkers dark action comedy with hard-hitting real-world political and societal themes. Had Kidnapping Inc. been brave enough to fully commit to its wacky ultra-violence, then it may well have done it. Still, there's plenty of silliness and fun to be had, and it's a promising debut feature from an angle rarely seen.

Kidnapping Inc. premiered at this year's Sundance Film Festival. The film is currently seeking international distribution.