Kidnapped (1971) starring Michael Caine, Lawrence Douglas, Vivien Heilbron, Trevor Howard, Jack Hawkins, Donald Pleasence, Gordon Jackson, Freddie Jones directed by Delbert Mann Movie Review

Kidnapped (1971)   2/52/52/52/52/5

Michael Caine in Kidnapped (1971)

Caine's Scottish Mutiny

I suspect those who read Robert Louis Stevenson's novels "Kidnapped" and "David Balfour" possibly enjoy this adaptation and I also suspect that those who watched this as children during the 70s also enjoy it but for anyone else, well it is a struggle. The constantly dodgy Scottish accents from English actors combined with less than thrilling action make it a struggle as does it's wordy nature. Of course "Kidnapped" is known as the movie where actors didn't get paid as some of them gave up their salary in order for the movie to be finished but even then the lack of money caused it to go from an epic movie shot in stunning locations to one completed on old sets which don't cut the mustard and change the movie's tone.

After his parents die young David Balfour (Lawrence Douglas) makes his way to his uncle Ebenezer's (Donald Pleasence - You Only Live Twice) house to lay claim to his inheritance and is immediately made aware that Ebenezer is no good as he tries to kill him. When that fails David ends up being knocked out and sold as a slave on the a ship heading to the colonies but on the way he meets and befriends Alan Breck (Michael Caine - Get Carter) who is escaping following the defeat at Culloden. When the ship's captain plans to kill Alan and steal his money David warns him and together escape and set out for Edinburgh, avoiding capture from Redcoats and trying to help a friend in the process.

Lawrence Douglas in Kidnapped (1971)

I don't like this adaptation of "Kidnapped" it has too many problems but one thing it does have is the basic storyline. "Kidnapped" maybe the amalgamation of Stevenson's two novels, drawing in elements of "David Balfour" to expand the basic storyline but it works as it has action, drama, adventure and a great selection of characters. The treatment of the story may struggle because of the budget issues and becomes wordy rather than exciting but the strength of the story is still there.

But get past that and "Kidnapped" ends up a slog for me, failing to come to life in the way it was probably attended. Part of the trouble is that the contrast between the epic location shots and the drab interiors is too much and it is a shame that the production ended up in financial difficulty because the location shots are beautiful.

But lack of money is not the only issue and it is impossible not to laugh at the array of dodgy Scottish accents going on especially Michael Caine's as Alan Breck who constantly drops the little Scottish twang more often than he has it. Anyone who thinks the accents are good should just watch the scene featuring Gordon Jackson as all the accents sound appalling next to his authentic one. It is a shame the accents and often lack of them ends up so distracting because "kidnapped" has a good cast who alongside Caine consists of Donald Pleasance, Trevor Howard, Freddie Jones and Jack Hawkins. There is also Lawrence Douglas as David and to me he never seems to find the fire in the character so that when he is angry it never feels any different to when he is scared or to be frank when he is just talking.

Then there is also the action and in the end lack of it as the second half movie falls short of excitement. Now some have said that Caine's performance as Breck is perfect and delivers great action, I say it is solid but lacks flare. Maybe if there had been more then it would have impressed more but the action is too short for my liking and not extravagant enough.

What this all boils down to is that "Kidnapped" did very little for me although I have to say I am impressed that it was ever completed considering the financial mess. But then this is the sort of movie which has an everlasting appeal to those who watched it during their childhood but offers little for new audiences.