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Overall Rating
4.32

Awesome62.16%
Worth A Look: 22.97%
Average: 6.76%
Pretty Bad: 1.35%
Total Crap: 6.76%

5 reviews, 44 user ratings



Taken
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by Slyder

"If you plan a kidnapping, be sure not to target Liam Neeson’s offspring"
5 stars

Steven Seagal, eat your heart out! Seriously, this is what happens when you place an actor with considerable depth into the right formula action movie. If you look at his resume, you’ll see that Liam Neeson has rarely played an action hero. I can only think of a couple of times he’s done it, in Rob Roy and the dreaded Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, but never in those instances has he had to wield a gun nor thrust out lethal martial arts chops. Ok, Gun Shy, I remember now. But seriously, this is the first time I’ve actually seen Liam Neeson play a full-fledged action hero. It surprises me in all honesty, but that is this film’s inedible charm, as it takes us for a ride in which asses will be kicked, bullets will fly and we’ll all get a whirlwind of entertainment out of it for 93 fast-paced minutes. Welcome to the Taken experience!

Liam Neeson is retired CIA op Bryan Mills, a former “preventer of bad things” as he tells his beloved daughter Kim (Maggie Grace) during one of their few conversations. Kim is the reason why Bryan retired, after his job destroyed his marriage with mom Lenore (Famke Janssen), whom is now married to a billionaire mogul named Stuart (The ever reliable, although a tad unrecognizable-due-to-beard Xander Berkley); so Bryan tries to cling on to the only decent thing he has in his life and be there to watch it grow… while handling an odd security job on the side from time to time. Kim then tells his dad about her desire to go to Paris with her friend Amanda supposedly to go Museum hunting (in reality, they go U2 concert hunting); Bryan is skeptical for he’s been around the block a few times, and knows that it is still potentially dangerous for two teenage girls to travel alone to a city they’ve never been before. Bryan reluctantly agrees however, and the two girls fly to Paris, but during the travel course of time from the airport to their flat, both girls are marked by a spotter and soon fall in to the hands of Armenian child slave traders. Kim makes a desperate call to her dad as that kidnapping moment comes, and after she loses her, and further doing some quick background work, Bryan realizes he has 96 hours to find his daughter alive and in one piece before it’s too late.

There’s not much to discuss here except that the film works and works brilliantly. Now, Luc Besson’s career as a director ended with the disastrous Joan Of Arc movie The Messenger, but that didn’t stop him from writing, and he found a partner with Robert Mark Kamen (Karate Kid) in order to write several reliable action flicks like Kiss of the Dragon, and the Transporter series. Hooking up with director Pierre Morel (who directed the Besson script District B13), both Besson and Kamen continue on with their experimentation of flat-out adrenaline rush, style over substance, and spectacle over narrative action flicks. This type of formula would’ve easily gone wrong like any other lame Hollywood crap-fest had they gone with the usual cast of all-screen-presence/depth-of-a-mud-puddle hacks like Seagal, Van Damme, Lundgren, Diesel, and the rest of them. Thankfully, Morel, Besson and Kamen hired a true actor, and a small miracle was produced.

Liam Neeson has a screen presence; in fact, his physique (thanks to a boxing career he left long ago) is probably one of the most overlooked treasures in Hollywood. Of course, this usually didn’t matter for the man who certainly had the talent for filmmakers to spot and have him star in films like Schindler’s List, Nell, Kinsey and Batman Begins. However, when dealing with a physical film like an action film, a strong screen presence is needed for the most part, and Neeson used that to great effect in Rob Roy. Here, it once again appears as it helps him construct the tough, brutal, and certainly lethal aspects of his character. The big and crucial difference of course, is Neeson’s aforementioned talent and range, as he immerses himself into the character of Mills and gives him the depth necessary to flesh out his human traits. He paints Mills as a fighter, a warrior, but with heart and a love for the thing he values most: his daughter. There’s also an aura of sadness and regret in him, which hints at his failure of not being there enough for his daughter during her early growing stages, and although he never missed a birthday of hers, he still wishes he could do more, and avoid the same mistakes that drove his wife away from him. In certain ways he plays the part of a social outcast who suddenly faces a monumental challenge that he has to overcome in order to earn if not acceptance, at least redemption and respect (a theme similarly explored in classics like The Searchers, Taxi Driver, and The Road Warrior). And boy, when he puts his warrior mask on, he’s really menacing and every word he utters sends true chills down to your spine.

Neeson is the engine that drives this film as he takes it in on both shoulders and runs with it, and he’s certainly a riot to watch as his Bryan Mills goes all over Paris beating the shit out of scumbags and busting caps up bad guys’ asses with fierce and frightening precision. For him the ends justify the means, and he’s willing in his own words to “rip apart the Eiffel Tower if it means finding his daughter,” and man does he mean it, especially in a memorable dinner scene involving his long lost “friend” in the French police Jean-Claude (Olivier Rabourdin) and his wife. Hindsight may fracture the film’s clichéd coincidences, but these pass largely undetected thanks to Morel’s skillful minimalism, breakneck pace, and tense atmosphere, and mainly because Neeson is so god damn believable in his role you lap up ever word and every move he does. And even more thankfully neither Neeson nor Morel overdo it; Neeson doesn’t ham it up in the emotional moments, while Morel never meanders into ridiculous and over-the-top excesses while constructing his action set pieces so as to not compromise the film’s fast-paced flow; Kudos to both for applying these restraints.

With the film’s focus solely on Bryan and his quest, its hard to judge the supporting cast objectively but Maggie Grace, Famke Janssen and Xander Berkley all deliver solid performances in their supporting roles. Special mention goes to the aforementioned Rabourdin as the scummy Jean-Claude and Gerard Watkins as one of the main baddies in the film who seems to echo a philosophy that came straight out of The Godfather.

In the end, this film is a fucking riot. True, it may not be high art, and it’s certainly no Citizen Kane or The Searchers, but it certainly fulfills the goals it set out to achieve, and those goals were to take a memorable character and create a kick-ass, non-stop, fast-paced action thriller around him with satisfying and entertaining results. Any action movie that accomplishes this is a winner in my book, and Taken is certainly a winner. There’s a reason why it managed to overcome the dreaded January release spot and still come out a commercial hit. Because it fucking rocks! See it!

Final Note: DO NOT watch the original toned-down PG-13 theatrical version. Watch the unrated, extended cut in order to get the film’s full-intended impact. 4.5-5

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=17351&reviewer=235
originally posted: 05/20/09 16:15:46
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User Comments

9/13/17 morris campbell good action flick liam is cool 4 stars
2/26/15 stanley welles a brainless bilious mix of sentimentality and bone-cracking violence 1 stars
10/02/14 joey from brooklyn albanian mobsters! suck it! 5 stars
10/25/12 Charles Tatum Quick, and full of loopholes 3 stars
8/27/12 David Pollastrini A tension filled thriller. 4 stars
6/19/12 fartvenugen So bad. Seagal did this much better in the 80s. 1 stars
6/08/11 R.W. Welch Snappily paced actioner with sharp writing and acting. 4 stars
3/27/11 Ken I adore a good revenge movie. This was right up with Man on Fire 4 stars
2/04/11 Monday Morning Hey Lee, the plural "morons" doesn't get an apostrophe, you moron. 5 stars
9/22/10 bored mom It's Splinter Cell: The Movie. 4 stars
4/06/10 TreeTiger The best action/revenge movie I have seen in years! 5 stars
1/05/10 RLan If you like action movies, this is one you should see. 4 stars
7/26/09 Bryan Tough, well-acted suspense thriller. 4 stars
7/09/09 Jeff Wilder Not a bad action movie. But as far as thrillers of this type go Man On Fire was better. 3 stars
6/09/09 Lee moron's wrote it, directed it, watched it themselves and loved it. fucking moron's 1 stars
5/29/09 kitfo another paranoid fantasy about child abduction, how could a simple plot have so many holes? 2 stars
5/26/09 Anonymous. great action but not a great movie... 3 stars
5/26/09 Bnorm It was incredible how many people that old man killed. Liam Neeson was great 5 stars
5/25/09 Brandon Allin Exhilarating all the way through 5 stars
5/21/09 Kike Sosa Liam Neeson's my new definition of "BAD-ASS" 5 stars
5/08/09 Samantha Pruitt AWESOME! constant action, Liam Neeson kicks ass! 5 stars
5/04/09 Mr. White Who knew that throat punching would be this good! 5 stars
3/25/09 ravenmad Awesome!!! Wish it got more press. Human trafficking is a sad reality. 5 stars
3/19/09 Total Crap Way overrated, great action but forgettable. I feel like I've seen all this before. 3 stars
3/18/09 ES Very good movie, Bryan Mills is a machine 4 stars
3/15/09 mr.mike Pulse-pounding , with Neeson top notch. 4 stars
3/10/09 Monday Morning Best thriller I've seen in years. They didn't even need the car chase(s). 5 stars
3/06/09 Elaine Best movie ive seen in 2009! Made me cry, laugh, scared.. everything a movie should be! 5 stars
3/02/09 Aaron Women and hyper-sensative liberals hate this movie.....which means that it is awesome. 5 stars
3/01/09 g. Excellent film, Neeson is great. However Maggie Grace was horribly miscast. 5 stars
3/01/09 blah blah uncut version is fucking awesome and brutal 5 stars
2/15/09 Todddi I think i could have written that script 1 stars
2/15/09 Joey Schmaloney Great film! Uncompromising and brutal. Neeson gets what he comes for and deserves to. 5 stars
2/15/09 Jenny Enjoyed every minute. Nice to see the bad guys get what they deserve! No negotiations. 4 stars
2/13/09 Wil worth the theater ticket, better than jack bauer from 24 5 stars
2/10/09 Brian When people kidnapped Peter Lorre's kid they immediately gave her back. Now that's scary. 4 stars
2/09/09 KingNeutron Only movie Ive seen since Dark Knight that was worth the Theater $$! 4 stars
2/06/09 Man Out 6 Bucks About time someone pinned Albanian KLA terrorists 4 stars
2/05/09 Faraz J Not special in anyway. And i seem to have seen iit way before the release. 3 stars
2/04/09 Aesop Action. Adventure. Entertainment. What a concept, huh Hollywood? 4 stars
2/01/09 Alex Thorne brutal, nasty, unflinching, and brilliant for it 4 stars
2/01/09 Ming great thriller and lots of actions 4 stars
2/01/09 Jack Sommersby The best action-thriller in years and the outstanding Neeson's best performance. 4 stars
1/31/09 PAUL SHORTT A NASTY, GRUBBY, POINTLESS LITTLE THRILLER THAT HARDLY WARRANTS A SINGLE STAR 1 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  30-Jan-2009 (PG-13)
  DVD: 12-May-2009

UK
  N/A

Australia
  30-Jan-2009
  DVD: 12-May-2009



[trailer] Trailer


Directed by
  Pierre Morel

Written by
  Luc Besson
  Robert Mark Kamen

Cast
  Liam Neeson
  Famke Janssen
  Maggie Grace
  Goran Kostic
  Katie Cassidy



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