''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.''
A former spy relies on his old skills to save his estranged daughter, who has been forced into the slave trade.
Liam Neeson: Bryan Mills
Director Pierre Morel, you have picked a rocket ship of thrilling intensity to cling upon, parnering up with Luc Besson just works every single time. I'm sad that his declaration of being finished with the director's chair may be true, however, his scripts are mounting and pumping out many action packed, entertainment laden efforts. If one can get the Transporter series to make money from its wit and smartly executed action, you know you are doing something correct. I've yet to see these two guys' first collaboration, District B13, but as far as the solid effort goes, Taken, I have one more reason to finally seek it out. Released in Europe, in recent months, and finally making its way stateside at the end of January, the tale places a retired US government preventer agent, with the Albanian captors that stole his daughter in Paris. His job ruined his marriage, strained the relationship he had with his child, yet gave him the specific skill set to get it all back. All he has to do is pulverize some very bad men, kill countless thugs and criminals, without a glimpse of remorse, and call in a few favours, while burning some old bridges in the process. Liam Neeson shows the physicality that George Lucas must have seen when casting him as a Jedi warrior, but didn't utilize or harness that power correctly. Well, Morel sure opened the floodgates and Neeson does not disappoint.
The European flair shows face right at the start with the film's opening credits. Sure the star gets top billing, but who do you ask gets second and third? That's right, the director and writers, then followed by the title. Someone understands the true creativity behind a feature film. Well, not just someone, a continent.
It's a shame that the name Luc Besson won't fill the seats by itself in America, because I'm sure if you mention alot of his filmography to a film fan and ask what they all have in common, the answer would be, "films I really connect to and enjoy". And yet the person answering probably has no idea what the common factor is allowing them to be such.
Lenore: You sacrificed our marriage to the service of the country, you've made a mess of your life in the service of your country; can't you sacrifice a little one time for your own daughter?
Bryan: I would sacrifice anything for her.
Shot with a kinetic pace, not quite Tony Scott, more Bourne Supremacy, but even slightly clearer than that, the action excites at every turn. Neeson is a man on a mission; a man with everything on the line, to find and save his daughter before the estimated 96 hours are up and she is lost forever on the black market human trafficking scheme. Friends, enemies, strangers, you name it; they are all potential targets to be shot at. Neeson's Bryan Mills is the ultimate badass working from his heart through to using his head, but only to survive, and to get one step closer to the truth. He gave it all up to rekindle a relationship with his seventeen year old, yet I'm sure never thought that the only way to do so would be to use all that training. The flip remark from Leland Orser, calling him Rambo, is more appropriate than you may think.
The supporting cast is definitely a necessity to keep the plot moving, but, in the end, it's all about Neeson moving forward and bull-rushing his way through extras. Maggie Grace can sadly get very tired, but I don't fault her as much as casting. She is a 26-year old playing 17, so her overly annoying, girlish tendencies are overblown because she is overcompensating for the age difference. Famke Janssen and Xander Berkler, are solid in small roles, while my favorite supporter is Olivier Rabourdin's Jean-Claude. Playing a French Internal Government agent, an ex-associate of Neeson, he portrays the duality of wanting to help his friend while still keeping his job and financial influx intact. He knows that whatever is uncovered in the one-man vigilante escapade could potentially harm his paycheck by exposing illegal dealings with criminals on the part of the police force, so he is never completely open. And that guardedness leads to a fantastic dinner scene.
Overall, Taken is a film not to be under estimated. It carefully addresses the subject of human trafficking which does take place in todays modern world. It also intriguingly makes cleverly placed stabs at immigration, criminality, and the scum which lurk in societies shadows. Liam Neeson's interaction, with a group of Albanians sums up the level of corruption allowed behind the lines, in a democratic country such as France. Of course, the real question being one of money, and treating girls like pieces of meat, as such a commodity.
Taken therefore doesn't just entertain, it educates, and ultimately makes you think even harder if you the viewer happens to have children of your own.
The only shame I felt about Taken was the poorly constructed ending which felt rather artificial, considering Maggie Grace fails to make us feel that this girl has even remotely been effected by this terrible ordeal. One would have thought Director Pierre Morel, may have cleverly shown a change in her character but rather we see her being ''spoiled'' again with a singing session with Holly Valance.
Everything up until this confusing conclusion, does thrill, does excite and ultimately does makes us think and root for Liam. Again a story in which one man takes on corruption all by himself is admirable and certainly courageous. Taken is definitely a pleasure for action fans and fans of thrillers alike.
''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. And for that the rate just went up 10%.''