Written by Luc Besson & Robert Mark Kamen
Directed by Pierre Morel
Running Time: 1:30
for intense sequences of violence,
disturbing thematic material, sexual content,
some drug references and language.
Taken was a surprisingly strong thriller that had a few plot issues but was still entertaining.
Bryan Mills is a former 'preventer' for the U.S. Government. He's the guy you call on when you don't want something to happen. He recently retired so he could spend time with his estranged daughter Kim. Bryan has a dim outlook on the world so when Kim asks for his permission to go to Europe with a friend of hers, he initially says no. But he can't say no too long to his baby girl so eventually he gives in. Almost immediately upon landing in Paris, Kim and her friend are kidnapped and Bryan has 96 hours to track them down before they'll disappear for good. And when Bryan gets angry, you don't want to be the one standing in his way.
I'm not 100% sure why Taken was released in Europe a few months ago but got delayed here. Sure it's not going to win any awards but if you're looking for a film with some good action and suspense and dead bodies, this is the film for you. The first question was whether Liam Neeson could pull off the angry guy role but even from the commercials you could see it would work. His relationship with his daughter isn't fully explained but you could see genuine affection in their eyes and so when she's kidnapped the anger that boils inside of him is toxic. Watching him go through person after person, not caring who he hurts in order to save his daughter is impressive. What I liked most about the film is that his daughter wasn't randomly kidnapped by herself, she was part of a series of kidnappings, so having Bryan run rampant through Paris to track her down wasn't just about one person. I always hate movies where one person is trying to find another person and he leaves dozens of innocent people dead or injured just to save the person he loves. I mean, it's a nice idea, but killing 12 to save one? At least here there's the idea that if he saves his daughter, he'll also be shutting down a trafficking ring.
The one downside to the film is that it's a little too short. While keeping it at 90 minutes certainly gives the film a quick pace, there are leaps in the story that could have used some explanation. Like one scene where he finds a girl who may have some information about his daughter. She's strung out on heroin so he takes her to a hotel room and suddenly he's got an IV bag hooked up and is giving her medication. Where did that come from exactly? Based on the resourcefulness he shows in the rest of the movie I can see how he'd track all the necessary stuff down, but I would have liked to have seen it. Add an extra 10 minutes to the movie with some additional background scenes and it wouldn't have hurt the overall feel. I also want to know why they chose Maggie Grace to play the daughter. She's supposed to be 17 in the movie and even if you take away a couple of years for filming, she would have been around 23. She's hot, no question about that but having her play 17 looked awkward. Since there was no nudity in the film, I don't know why they couldn't have picked someone else for the role.
Action-wise, the movie is right on point. There are car chases, gun fights, one-on-one fights with plenty of bullets flying, car crashes and bones being broken. Neeson may not be a spring chicken anymore, but he does know how to fight. It's kind of as if Jason Bourne's dad was fighting. That'd be interesting if they had revealed that Bryan's last name was actually Webb at the end of the movie. Throw in a little Matt Damon cameo. OK, now I'm just randomly throwing things out there.
THE BOTTOM LINE
So overall, I liked Taken. There were a few leaps in the story that could have been better explained, but for mindless entertainment it's worth checking out.
Netflix DVD Rentals. Only $4.99 a month. NO LATE FEES; Free Shipping. Try for FREE!