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'Taken' Movie Review

About.com Rating 2 Star Rating

By

Maggie Grace, Famke Janssen, and Liam Neeson star in Taken

Maggie Grace, Famke Janssen, and Liam Neeson in 'Taken.'

© Europacorp - M6 Films - Grive Productions
Liam Neeson makes Jack Bauer look like a wimp in Taken, a ridiculously silly action drama directed by Pierre Morel (District B13). Taken's like a Bourne movie without the brains, a film made solely to satisfy action junkies who care not one iota about plot as long as there's plenty of bloodshed and a substantial number of dead bodies piled up by the time the credits roll on by. If all you want out of your movie-going dollar is to watch one man overcome incalculably high odds to rescue his daughter from evil foreigners (Americans, good – everyone else, bad), then Taken is the movie for you.

The Story

Bryan Mills (Neeson) quits his job as a 'preventer' working for the CIA or FBI or another organization known by its initials to try and connect with his daughter Kim who he pretty much ignored while she was growing up. Now that she's turning 17, Bryan's decided it's time to try and have a relationship with Kim. His ex-wife's not happy about his sudden desire to become a part of their daughter's life, but Bryan's convinced it's the thing to do.

Now retired, Bryan lives off his pension and money made from taking the occasional odd job with his ex-government agency buddies. One job finds him and his three ex co-workers guarding a pop singer on her way into and out of a concert. Now, we never find out why this pop singer is attacked after leaving the stage, but she is and Bryan happens to be the temporary bodyguard who saves her. She, of course, is grateful and gives him a reward for his bravery that you know is going to figure big somewhere down the line in the film.

…As I'm typing this out, all that's going through my head is the fact that none of this plot nonsense matters one little bit. Rather than continue on in detail, here's all you really need to know:

Liam Neeson stars in Taken

Liam Neeson in 'Taken.'

© Europacorp - M6 Films - Grive Productions
Bryan is skilled with guns, knives, his hands, torture devices, stealing cars, and breaking and entering. Kim is a perky 17 year old virgin spoiled by her mom and super wealthy stepdad who buys her a pony on her 17th birthday while her real dad can only afford a small karaoke machine. Why a pony and not a car? She's 17 not 10… But I digress. Against her dad's best judgment she goes on vacation with her 19 year old best friend to Paris. Everything she tells her dad she'll be doing there is a lie. Dad is super suspicious. His worst nightmare comes true as soon as Kim hits French soil. Daddy's pristine princess is this flame that attracts all manner of bad men, all of whom will rue the day they chose her to mess with as Bryan has no qualms whatsoever about killing (which puts him one up on Mr. Pony Buyer). That's Taken.

The Cast

Liam Neeson is a surprisingly believable man of action. Taken shows us a side of Neeson we haven't seen before and given a better script to work off of, it might be fun to see Neeson take on a kick ass, take no prisoners sort of character again. Neeson's intense and most definitely scary as a dad with just the right training and disposition to rescue his precious daughter from the clutches of the evil slave-trading, prostitute making, villains who chose the wrong girl to take advantage of. This is all Neeson's show as every other character is just window dressing or there for him to kill. Even Maggie Grace as Kim and Famke Janssen as his ex-wife Lenore are nothing more than one-dimensional decorations in this action-heavy killfest.

The Bottom Line

Liam Neeson in Taken photo

Liam Neeson in 'Taken.'

© Europacorp - M6 Films - Grive Productions
Taken doesn't care who it offends, what ethnic groups might be insulted by their portrayal in the film, how sinister everything French is made out to be, or the fact all events that occur in the film's 94 minutes defy probability and logic. When the hero's outnumbered, why is it the bad guys attack one at a time? Why do half a dozen men stand around and wait their turn instead of acting as a group? Why don't bullets hit their mark when the men firing them are highly trained bodyguards or killers or something of the sort? Why doesn't this ex-government agent ask his buddies to help him track down his daughter? If you're asking these questions and expect reasonable, logical answers from the script by Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen, then you're expecting far, far too much from Taken.

Go in with low expectations for the script but high expectations for the way the action's staged (the hand-to-hand combat is particularly well choreographed), and you'll be satisfied. But, again, this is only a movie for diehard action fans. All others should avoid theaters screening Taken at all costs.

GRADE: C-

Taken was directed by Pierre Morel and is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence, disturbing thematic material, sexual content, some drug references and language.

Theatrical Release Date: January 30, 2009

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