Sanjay Gadhvi is a lazy director. Not the bad kind of lazy who doesn't make an effort, but the kind who invests in a certain vision for his film, and then gets too encumbered by the process to remember the details. Trapped in the tight production cycle of Yash Raj, his Dhooms were loosely directed films, but the roughness was hidden by the heavy duty slickness.
With a more open-minded producer this time, Gadhvi loses his vision, and the loose direction stumbles from one folly to another. His trademark slickness in editing and action set piece vision is still intact, but it is the details he was loose to begin with - character motivation, pacing, mood - that get the absolute short end and sputter to a deathly still.
Never quite getting the mood right, Kidnap tries to balance a sinister plot and tone with a very light touch of morality. It's bizarre seeing the film's plot roll out - despite the harrowing experience that a kidnapper makes a girl go through, he is a nice bloke. Despite the father of said girl having done something (in the kidnapper's mind at least) to deserve this, he is basically a decent guy who made one mistake. Decency and forgiveness comes way too easy in a film that keeps on yelling bloody revenge most of the time.
The story heavily focuses on trying to get out of the plot holes it has devised for itself, whilst trying to keep all its cards close to its chest. The problem is that it is holding a terrible hand. The Jack here being Imran Khan as Kabir, grunge/punk-inspired boy who kidnaps Sonia (Minissha Lamba) from her cozy and comforted life. Imran has a certain menace that lets through in his body language, which lends the film a certain tension. His volatility is his subtlety, and that works wonders.
Minissha, as the sheltered yet headstrong daughter of estranged parents Mallika (Vidya Malvade) and Vikrant Raina (Sanjay Dutt), tries hard to be a believable 17-18 year old, but fails. I think the fault would be with the cleavage she keeps thrusting in our faces.
Sanjubaba, as should be apparent, plays his age, and that lends a certain believability in his haggard and tired overachiever father role. As Kabir makes Raina go through one hoop after the other in a 'game' that will give him clues about his daughter's whereabouts and the kidnapper's motives, Sanjay's tiredness in character starts seeming, well, real. That's not a compliment, by the way.
Vidya Malvade's inclusion in the film is simply to drive home the family, cheery tone that Gadhvi is keen on juxtaposing in an otherwise dark film. The estrangement feels real because there's no chemistry at all. Likewise, Gadhvi is keen on trying to tone the darkness down, and he tries at every turn to add fluff in a script that was confused to begin with.
The result is an extremely jarring experience in the cinema hall with a film that could have been so much more. Imran's restrained performance and a heavily inspired by Butterfly On The Wheel script had all the makings of a taut thriller. Dutt's presence is always a plus in any film, and Kidnap also benefits from an ever-improving Bobby Singh framing the action. What it lacked was a director who was invested enough to pull it off.
For what it is worth, you'll likely enjoy the action at times, but the stuff in between is half-baked, and it feels so.