US Release Date: 01-30-2009
Directed by: Pierre Morel
- Liam Neeson, as
- Bryan Mills
- Famke Janssen, as
- Maggie Grace, as
- Leland Orser, as
- Olivier Rabourdin, as
- Katie Cassidy, as
- Jon Gries, as
- Holly Valance, as
- Nicolas Giraud, as
- Anatole Taubman as
Liam Neeson making like an older Jason Bourne.
Taken blew me away with it's old fashioned plot, pace and length. Scott, it is surprisingly only one hour and a half long. It is reminiscent of John Wayne's Big Jake. The bad guys in both films underestimate a man of action when it involves family. A line near the end of Taken could have very well have been spoken by Wayne. A scumbag, begs for his life by saying, "Please understand...it was all business. It was not personal." Neeson responds, "It was all personal to me."
As the movie opens, Bryan is divorced and well into middle age. He is a former government field agent, who is trying to connect to his teenage daughter. His ex-wife is remarried to a very rich man and the only thing his daughter seems to need from him is his approval to travel to Paris for the summer. Up until this point in the movie you feel sorry for Bryan. He seems like he is half asleep. As if he is walking though his days in a bit of a blur. He is completely out of place at his own daughters birthday party.
When his daughter gets abducted, everything about him changes. He is suddenly in control of his actions in a way that he was not as the ex-husband. The kidnappers grab his daughter while she is on her cell with him. Bryan tells the man in a calm, confident voice, "If you let my daughter go now, that'll be the end of it. I will not look for you, I will not pursue you. But if you don't, I will look for you, I will find you, and I will kill you." Neeson's tone convinces you that it is not an idle threat.
The pace takes off once Bryan begins his pursuit of the abductors and the movie never slows down. As soon as he finds the last person who saw his daughter before the abduction, you know he is not playing around. He grabs the guy, throws him in a Taxi and starts pounding away on him. There is no playing around. Bryan is a man on a mission and he does not have the time for niceties. Some of the things he does in order to find his daughter may shock you. An innocent house wife pays a price for her husbands dealings.
The scene where he finds the man from the conversation on the phone is great. "You don't remember me? We spoke on the phone two days ago. I told you I would find you." Even though the kidnapper is surrounded by five friends, Bryan's confident statement leaves you in no doubt that he still has the upper hand. It is very much like the scene in Big Jake when John Wayne says to the kidnapper, "And now you understand. Anything goes wrong, anything at all... your fault, my fault, nobody's fault... it won't matter - I'm gonna blow your head off."
Taken is gloriously and surprisingly politically incorrect. Bryan mercilessly tortures someone, and gets results. In another scene, Bryan is pretending to work for the French police when he says to some Albanian Immigrants, "You come to this country, take advantage of the system and think because we are tolerant that we are weak and helpless. Your arrogance offends me." It is nice to know that some people, like Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen, are brave enough to write such in your face scenes and lines.
As far as revenge fantasies go this is a pretty good one.
Sure, as far as revenge fantasies go this is an entertaining one, but it's not all that, Eric. It's a popcorn flick that keeps you on the edge of your seat for a good portion of it, but it's also filled with coincidences and 56 year old Liam Neeson is an indestructible superman in a way that far exceeds believability.
Bryan's friend, also ex-service or ex-cia or ex-something never fully explained is able to tell him exactly who his daughter's kidnappers are, which is necessary to get the plot going, but not very plausible. Also, all of his close friends who would surely be a help in this situation decide not to help him get his daughter back? If Bryan can kick so much ass on his own, wouldn't three or four more just like him make the job a lot easier? And don't even get me started on Bryan's ability to get a crystal clear image from a photo machine off of a memory card from a damaged cellphone. If that wasn't enough in itself, he gets the image he wants from a reflection in the photo.
Also, Bryan's best advice to his daughter is to hide under the bed when he knows the kidnappers will find her? How about, I don't know, maybe hang up on him and call the French police? Or think of somewhere else to hide, or run out the front door? Yeah, maybe she'll get caught trying, but shouldn't she at least try to run? I mean he expects her to get caught anyway, so why not give her a chance?
Honestly though, most of the plot holes only came to me after the movie. During the movie there is a lot of action which keeps you from focusing on problems with the story. And you definitely are rooting for Bryan to find his daughter and there are several moments when you go, "Yeah! Kick ass!" I especially enjoyed how he gets his old friend in the French Police to give him the information he needs.
That's the reason the movie's so short Eric. If it was too long, you'd have time to realize that a lot of it doesn't make sense.
Thank you Daddy!
Taken is fast-paced, exhilarating eye-candy and the ultimate father’s revenge fantasy. But it is also ridiculous. Scott you are right about Bryan Mills being an indestructible superman. And the bad guys in this movie clearly went to the Storm Trooper school of marksmanship. I too wondered why he didn’t enlist his friends' help. I mean why introduce those characters at all?
Taken is completely sexist and is sooo slanted towards the male perspective. At the beginning Bryan seems like a paranoid, overprotecting parent. Then within minutes of his daughter’s arrival in Paris every one of his fears turns out to be justified. And of course the daughter is a virgin and her promiscuous friend is the one that gets them into trouble. From the daughter, to her mom, to the best friend to the untalented pop singer there is not one female character in the entire movie that is well-developed. They are all sexually objectified and helpless. What century was this made in?
If you can get past that then sit back and enjoy the mindless, unbelievable action.
Photos © Copyright Europa Corp. (2009)