Lifetime Review: 'Deadly Excursion: Kidnapped From the Beach'
Despite old and new problems arising, this Lifetime sequel still makes for an engaging hostage thriller.
After surviving an attempted kidnapping, Samantha "Sam" McCarthy (Samaire Armstrong) has worked hard to move on with her life. She's reconciled with her husband David (Corin Nemec), her restaurant business is booming, and her daughter Ellie (Allie DeBerry) is a thriving college athlete. But when Sam and David learn that Ellie's volleyball team is set to compete in a Florida-based tournament, they're not too thrilled about the prospect. After all, one of Sam and Ellie's former abductors Ian LeBlanc (Jonathan Bouvier) is still on the run and the FBI agent on their case has advised them to stay in Texas for their protection.
But having already decided they could use a mini-vacay, Sam and David decide to accompany Ellie to the tournament, both to relax and to keep an eye on her. But little do they know that there's a new danger waiting for them there. César Rodriguez (Matt Cedeño), an associate of the late Javier LeBlanc, has set his sights on Sam, believing she stole money of his during the kidnapping fiasco and used it to finance her business. So along with his son Miguel (David Meza) and henchman Eduardo (James Logan), César takes Sam and her family captive, planning to use her husband and daughter as leverage as he forces Sam to repay him the money he lost. Separated and up against a gang of career criminals, will the McCarthys escape their latest vacation abduction with their lives?
Given how 2019's Deadly Excursion ended on a fairly blatant Sequel Hook, I was happy to see that director Brian Skiba and company decided to make use of it. While the first movie had its faults in writing and characterization, it had fast action and a capable cast to make it a fun kidnapping thriller set against the backdrop of the beautiful ocean coast. As stated in the subtitle, though, Deadly Excursion: Kidnapped From the Beach retains some of its predecessor's pitfalls and brings a couple of its own into the mix. But while it ultimately falls a little behind the original, this sequel proves to be a worthy follow-up as the McCarthy family see another getaway land them in the crosshairs of a criminal operation.
In comparison to the original Deadly Excursion, Kidnapped From the Beach feels like it doesn't have as much of an intense energy. While the McCarthys are all in the same constant state of danger as before and separated to their own individual perils (this time, with David along for the whole ride), you just don't feel the same sense of urgency. SPOILER ALERT This can be most felt in the "climax". As opposed to the fast-paced action of Deadly Excursion's finale, Kidnapped From the Beach's conclusion gets the artificial extension treatment, ending on a flat note with César simply falling into an inexplicably coordinated FBI trap. And despite César making threats to harm Sam's family if she doesn't cooperate, we never see David or Ellie suffer as a result of Sam's escape attempts. Spoilers Over There's still a good deal of suspense and thrills to be found, but it's a significant drop in comparison to what was seen in the first movie.
Thankfully, in terms of pacing and acting, Kidnapped From the Beach is at the level of its predecessor. The action we do get is delivered at a consistent speed, only hitting some scattered snags before the bloated climax. And while their characters frustratingly retain some of their low points from the first film, the returning McCarthy cast is as solid as they were before. Sam McCarthy has dropped almost all of her former annoying/unlikeable qualities, thanks to her character development and Samaire Armstrong's good performance from the first movie carrying over. Apart from some ill-conceived escape attempts and her and David deciding against all logic to keep their FBI friend Kyle (played by fellow returning actor Michael McLafferty) in the dark about their Florida trip, Sam is otherwise as likable as she became during her first kidnapping ordeal and displays a newfound ferocity in the third act as she fights to gain the upper hand on her captors and rescue her family.
(In a stark departure from Sam's bouts of idiocy in the first movie, she and the rest of her family are quick to pick up on how creepy César and Miguel are when the two approach them in a restaurant)
In comparison to Armstrong, Allie DeBerry and Corin Nemec get less time to shine. Nemec particularly suffers from this, with David spending a great deal of the hostage situation incapacitated. But when David's able to get in on the action, Nemec gives another emotive performance, as does Allie DeBerry as Ellie finds herself the target of another criminal's infatuation. SPOILER ALERT The final returning cast member is Jonathan Bouvier as former McCarthy kidnapper Ian LeBlanc. While the cold open (which contains a very conspicuous Infodump) seems to show that Ian has returned to continue pursuing Ellie and her family, he instead turns out to be a surprise hero this time around.
Personally, I felt it would've been more interesting to have the McCarthy clan facing off against two opposing threats, leading to crazier action as the Rodriguezes and Ian clash against each other. As is, Ian's sudden return as a remorseful atoner feels pretty rushed, though Bouvier's performance is strong enough to almost sell it for me. What he can't sell is the relationship upgrade that goes on between Ellie and Ian. Even accepting Ian's sudden personality shift, Ellie seemingly falling for the guy is impossible to stomach. Though that's nothing compared to Ian's ultimate fate. Apparently, the McCarthy family's seal of approval is enough to make Kyle let Ian off the hook for his crimes and he can just go about his life as though he's not still a wanted fugitive. Spoilers Over
The new cast, meanwhile, brings their own charm to some imperfect new roles. Matt Cedeño is the most impressive of the bunch, perfectly selling César Rodriguez's flair as an arrogantly confident criminal mastermind. We hardly see César lose his temper with Sam or his other hostages, showing how certain he is that his plan is foolproof. And in Cedeño's hands, César is as suave as he is threatening. His and Miguel's henchmen occasionally become too cheesy for their own good, but for the most part, they're just as effectively unnerving. James Logan is obviously having a blast as the giddily psychotic Eduardo while Mike Benitez allows José to show a dark side after he's introduced as Miguel's kooky uncle.
The last of the villains is David Meza as nephew Miguel. For his second Lifetime villain role, Meza brings a disturbing menace to Miguel as he turns out to be the more loose cannon half of his father's criminal enterprise. But as much as Meza brings to the character, Miguel Rodriguez spends most of the movie feeling like a carbon copy of Ian LeBlanc, with all the stiff lines and uneven writing that come with the territory. SPOILER ALERT He comes off as especially inconsistent in regards to his feelings for Ellie. Initially, his interest in her is pure perversion, but after he believes Ellie was killed on César's orders, he's in genuine tears of heartache before eventually going back to being a sleazy pig.
In regards to his relationship with his father, things are clearer, albeit with a few gray areas. Meza does fairly well at portraying Miguel's anger and sorrow over his father's mistreatment of him, particularly in Miguel's scene alone with David. But while his helping David set César up to be arrested would appear to be Miguel turning a new leaf, he "celebrates" the news by taking over his father's business and setting his sights on the McCarthys once more. It's a fuzzy twist considering how much Miguel apparently resented César putting the business ahead of him, but it's believable enough and will hopefully lead to an action-packed threequel that will expand more on Miguel's character. Spoilers Over
The script comes with its share of flukes and the movie's atmosphere doesn't quite measure up to that of its predecessor. But despite those errors, Deadly Excursion: Kidnapped From the Beach is a good sequel that does a little to build on the previous movie. With consistent action and a returning and new cast that all bring forth their best efforts, this beachside thriller brings its own brand of entertaining mayhem that makes up for what it lacks. Here's hoping the (presumedly) inevitable third film of the Deadly Excursion saga will iron out the series' creases and crank the thrill factor up to eleven--especially since it might be the series' final chapter.
Score: 6.5 out of 10 Rosales mansions.