If you take a bad idea and multiply it by three, maybe it will work. That seems the rationale of director Luis Mandoki, who tries to conceal the sleaziness and implausibility of this film’s premise with gratuitous repetition and glitzy style.
Joe Hickey (Kevin Bacon) has, as he unctuously explains to his latest victim, worked out the perfect procedure for a kidnapping for ransom. He grabs not only the child of a wealthy young couple but the parents as well; this ensures there’ll be no screw-ups with the money exchange and also gives him a chance to score with the pretty mom. And we’re supposed to believe he’s gotten away with this bonehead scheme four times already before he takes on Karen Jennings (Charlize Theron) and her doctor husband, Will (Stuart Townsend), and their daughter, Abby (Dakota Fanning). Had Joe seen Panic Room, he would know that kidnap victims always have diabetes or asthma or some other malady requiring medication, but even without that oversight the ineptitude of his plan and its execution is excelled only by that of the movie itself. Warner Bros. seems embarrassed to be releasing this travesty at a time when child kidnappings are being exploited with equal shamelessness by the news media, but that coincidence pales before the spectacle of Courtney Love falling out of her clothes as Joe’s battered wife, or determined mom Theron hiding a scalpel between her butt cheeks to castrate the brute who’s terrorizing her child. (99 minutes)