The Flick Chicks

Judy Thorburn's Movie Reviews

Taken

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Audiences Will Be “Taken” With This Effective, High Octane, Action Thriller

I don’t know why it took a year for the film to be released in the states after opening in France in February 2008, but one thing I do know is that Taken is the first top notch action thriller of 2009 and will have audiences on the edge of their seat minutes into the storyline up to the closing credits.

As the title implies, the plot revolves around an abduction, but not of the “alien” kind as in the TV mini series of the same name. Taken, the theatrical release, centers on a determined father who will stop at nothing to track down and save his daughter who has been kidnapped and drugged by a ring of Albanian thugs with the intention of being forced into prostitution/sex slavery.

The central focus is on Liam Neeson, who at 56 years old has re-invented himself as a Jason Bourne-like action hero, and a pretty awesome one at that, for his role as a retired CIA operative with special skills that comes in handy when he takes on a very personal mission.  Neeson plays Bryan Mills who quit his work for the government and moved to Los Angeles to be closer to his estranged teenage daughter Kimmie (Maggie Grace formerly of TV’s Lost) in order to rebuild their relationship after his job had kept him away from home and wrecked his marriage. Bryan’s ex-wife, Lenore (Famke Jenssen, X-Men film series), meanwhile has moved on and is remarried to a super rich businessman (Xander Berkeley) with whom she and her daughter share a luxurious lifestyle in a palatial mansion.  Things step into gear when shortly after her 17th birthday, a spoiled Kim (nicknamed Kimmie) announces to her father that she wants to go with her best friend, 19 year old Amanda (Katie Cassidy) on a vacation to Paris and needs his approval.  She talks her protective dad into agreeing, against his better judgment (he knows, from experience, there is danger lurking out there, especially for a pretty young single woman in a foreign country) as long as she follows his orders to regularly keep in touch with him by cell phone.  No sooner do Kimmie and Amanda arrive at the airport in France when they are marked by a handsome young Parisian spotter, Peter (Nicolas Giraud) who offers to share their cab, and in doing so finds out where they are staying.

The girls don’t even get a chance to unpack their suitcases when suddenly intruders enter the apartment. Kimmie is having a conversation on her cell phone with her dad and is able to watch through a facing window from another room as her friend is kidnapped.  Bryan tells Kimmie to hide under the bed, be quiet and let him hear what is going on before warning her that she is about to be taken.  When one of his daughter’s captors, Marco (Arben Bajraktaraj) grabs the phone, Bryan lets him know, in no uncertain terms, that he will use his very particular set of skills to go after him, stating emphatically, "I will look for you. I will find you. And I will kill you."

And so he does, setting in motion an unstoppable one man mission in which Bryan relentlessly goes about tracking down the villains who have no idea who they have messed with and what they are in for. Director Pierre Morel, working from a script by Luc Besson (The Transporter series) and Robert Mark Kamen, keeps things moving at a brisk pace, building up tension and suspense as Bryan gets right down to business, immediately flying to Paris to do whatever it takes to find the evil perpetrators and rescue his daughter.  That means dealing with an old French intelligence contact, turned corrupt police official Jean-Claude (Olivier Rabourdin) on his back, and taking on the bad guys, one by one. The unfolding course of events includes an adrenalin pumping car chase through a construction site which houses a makeshift bordello, intense hand to hand combat, an electrocution torture scene and Bryan withstanding a barrage of bullets that somehow (only in the movies) misses their target.

Politically incorrect or not, I am not ashamed to admit I found myself rooting Neeson’s character on, putting myself in his shoes,  feeling his pain, the need for vengeance and sympathizing with his mission as he gets to beat the crap of those who get just what they deserve because, let’s face it, they had it coming.  Yes, there is a certain amount of violence.  But, it is fitting to the storyline and in no way gratuitous.

The 6 foot 4 inch Liam Neeson, makes a strong, imposing presence as Bryan whose cool and collected demeanor belies the fact that he is a self contained lethal weapon.  Sure, it is far fetched to believe the response of just two words, “Good luck”, is enough for voice analysis to help identify and pin down the bad guy. Plot holes, contrivances and co-incidences (as when Bryan happens to show up at the precise moment his daughter is put up on the auction block to be sold to the highest bidder) aside, Taken is a satisfying, slick action thriller that will draw you in and “capture” your attention.