Review: “Taken”

February 15, 2009 at 3:35 pm 1 comment

Remember in the 1980’s and 90’s, when kidnapping and revenge movies were so prominent?  When action movies relied less on computer-generated effects and more on the hero’s ability to kick as much ass as possible?  Luc Besson remembers, and Taken is the result.

Taken, if you haven’t seen the trailer, is about a Bryan (Liam Neeson) a father who travels all over France is rescue his kidnapped daughter, Kim (Maggie Grace).  Basically, it’s Commando (1985) meets The Bourne Ultimatum (2007).  It’s the simplest of stories for this Liam Neeson vehicle, but that’s certainly not a bad thing, as it is supremely satisfying to watch Neeson kick everybody’s ass (and I mean everybody, even people who don’t deserve it).

The only real character development is shown in the beginning, which many viewers complained that it was slow and boring.  Bryan is a retired C.I.A. agent who moves to be closer to his teenage daughter and ex-wife Lenore (Famke Janssen).  It is sweet watching Bryan trying to win the affection of his daughter, however not everyone shares in the sentiment.  Lenore acts like a downright bitch, trying to keep the two away from each other, all the while flaunting her new husband, rich businessman Stuart (Xander Berkeley).

All that changes when Kim goes to Paris for a month with a friend.  Before they even get a chance to settle into their place, they’re targeted and kidnapped by some Albanian gangsters who wish to sell them into an illegal, and international, prostitution ring.  Bryan then sets off for France to beat up a whole mess of badguys.

The action is choreographed much like a Bourne or Bond movie; lots of hand-to-hand combat, the occasional car chase, and a few scenes of torture tossed in for good measure.  As soon as Bryan lands in Paris, the film doesn’t let up from fight after fight, ass-kicking after ass-kicking.  Since the action is also used to move the story forward, it’s setup up kind of like a video game, with our hero wading through countless badguys who don’t stand a chance, only go up against a ‘boss fight’ every once in a while.  And though Neeson may be tall, lanky, and probably past middle-age, he could easily go toe-to-toe with Jason Bourne.

My only complaints are with some minor details of the story.  For example, Kim’s friend Amanda (Katie Cassidy) ends up a lot worse than Kim does, but the story never reveals what happens after that (how do Amanda’s parents react?).  Also, they don’t seem to care about the repercussions of leaving a trail of bodies and destruction all around France, especially if the one responsible was an ex-member of the C.I.A.

But, this isn’t trying to be some kind of Oscar-winning story.  Taken is a throwback to old-school action movies, with modern filmmaking techniques.  Director Pierre Morel and screenwriter/producer Luc Besson have crafted a roller-coaster ride of a movie, one that, as soon as the punching starts, doesn’t stop until the final scene.

7.5/10

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Review Catch-Up: “Let the Right One In” Review: “Friday the 13th”

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. The Cinema Hub  |  February 15, 2009 at 5:59 pm

    It was really good. We need more action-packed movies like this!

    Reply

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