05 February, 2009

"Taken" Film Review

When my friends told me about Taken, I thought I was going to see a broken father out on a desperate search for his precious daughter and in the end we’ll find a heartwarming, tearjerker reunion. Well, this movie isn’t quite what I expected.

Taken is an action-thriller film directed by Pierre Morel in 2008. The film stars Liam Neeson, Maggie Grace, Famke Janssen, and Katie Cassidy.

Liam Neeson plays Bryan Mills, an ex-spy who retires from his dangerous job to be closer to his daughter Kim, played by Maggie Grace. Ever the adventure-seeking teenager, Kim goes to Europe for a vacation with her friend Amanda, played by Katie Cassidy. After arriving, the girls are immediately abducted by a dangerous gang known for drugging female tourists to traffic them as prostitutes. Bryan Mills then uses all his ex-spy skills to look for his daughter amongst the vapid throes of an Albanian gangster.

Taken is by no means a drama, it is a frenetic action thriller that sucks you in its frantic pace and brutality. I found Liam Neeson’s portrayal of a loving father hard to swallow after seeing his character stoically shoot an innocent woman to compel her husband to talk. A woman who even cooked him dinner. I honestly didn’t appreciate the blatant split personality of Neeson’s character. One minute ever the desperately broken father, the next a pseudo-James Bond who is older and harsher, who had no qualms whatsoever about torture and murder. Having said that, I can’t imagine any other actor playing the character. Liam Neeson has a face made for stoicism, and Taken is full of it. In every sense.

I didn’t realize that it was Maggie Grace who played Kim until I saw her name in the credits, for one thing, I thought Grace was a little too old to be playing a 17 year old character, so I assumed that it was only an uncanny resemblance to the actress who induced a million eye rolls in The Fog. But alas, it really was her. As someone on her last year of teenagedom, I was offended that someone would portray a 17 year old like a wince-inducing petulant 12 year old.

I was admittedly very impressed with Taken’s bone-crunching fist fights and takedowns, as would any other action junkie. The film delivers thrill factor easily, and the audience may certainly appreciate being thrust into a heart-pounding ride. It even induces a few goosebumps and body tensing moments. But the whole Taken film has a shameless air that people who actually care about what they’re watching may not care for. Confused? So am I, a little. The point is that after watching this film, it leaves you somewhat breathless, and partly wondering on whether or not you just wasted 87 minutes of your life on a brutal show which pretends to have a story.

Bryan: "I don't know who you are. I don't know what you want. If you are looking for ransom, I can tell you I don't have money. But what I do have are a very particular set of skills; skills I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you. 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."
Marko: [after a long pause] "Good luck."