After watching so many movies and writing these alleged ‘reviews’ of said movies it seemed as if perhaps I was beginning to take myself seriously as a film critic. Maybe I should re-watch ‘The English Patient’ or ‘Shakespeare in Love’ because since I’m classier and more sophisticated than I used to be I might actually like those movies. Then a movie comes along that reminds you that deep inside your still that seventeen year old boy, only wrapped in an older fatter slower body, who still prefers a movie that has shooting and killing running and lots of dying – with the caveat being that it’s done correctly. My friends, that movies name is ‘Taken’, and ‘Taken’, thy name is awesome.
Bryan (Liam Neeson) loves his little girl Kim (Maggie Grace), but because Bryan was out doing mercenary spook type stuff protecting our freedom for the last twenty five or so years, he’s missed out on much of his seventeen year old daughter’s life. Bryan is trying to make up for lost time though as he quit ‘The Agency’ just so he can move close to his baby girl and be a part of her life once again, despite his colleagues urging that he come back aboard and be the international badass they know he can still be. Though his plan is an admirable one there are a few road blocks as Bryan’s ex-wife Lenore (Framke Janssen) seriously resents the fact that he was an absentee father and husband and in addition to that, Lenore’s new husband Stuart (Xander Berkely) has more money than The Pope and spoils Kim rotten. Plus Kim herself isn’t the little girl that Bryan tends to think she is.
The quandary for Bryan starts when Kim requests his permission to allow her to travel to Paris with a friend of hers. Now to call Bryan paranoid would be a gross understatement and he is reticent as hell to grant this permission, but eventually he acquiesces, with a number of restrictive stipulations. As it turns out Bryan’s paranoia, at least this time, is justified because once Kim and her friend Amanda (Katie Cassidy)
touchdown in Paris they are greeted by a smooth talking French operator who marks the girls as easy prey and eventually both are snatched up and taken away to their new lives as white sex slaves. The good things is that Kim was on the cell with her paranoid old dude who manages to do some spy stuff while Kim was on the phone being taken away in an what was incredibly taut, well shot scene.
I don’t know who those dudes were that took Kim and Amanda, but oh my do they have problems. In no time flat the former super spy has landed in Paris and the plane has barely touched ground when Bryan gets to the sincere business of cracking heads. Now in all fairness Bryan did calmly suggest to these evil bastards, who happened to pick up Kim’s phone as she dropped it, that they should seriously consider letting her go, but alas all he got for his suggestion was guff and attitude. If they knew what we know, they would’ve apologized to Miss Kim gave her a couple hundred bucks for the inconvenience and disappeared into night. Paris is now burning to the ground.
‘Taken’ was directed by Pierre Morell whose last film was the incredibly entertaining, albeit somewhat vacuous ‘District B13’. My advice to the legendary Luc Besson, whose production house this cat apparently works for, is that he should work this talent like a two dollar whore because Pierre Morel shoots an action flick like few others, and that includes Luc Besson. There are a number of things which make this movie great, starting off with star Liam Neeson who is able to sell us on the fact that he is one bad ass mofo with very little effort. The fact that Neeson is aging and looking a bit weathered in this film sells the character of Bryan as somebody who has seen a thing or two and when he told those dudes that he was going to find them and kill them, I sure did believe him so I don’t know why they didn’t.
Another thing that works in this movies mix is that the bad guys in this flick were really, really bad. No moral ambiguity here with these dudes as they were about as reprehensible as it gets. When Bryan killed up these cats, some in the most unpleasant of ways, all it did was fill you with joyful, glorious hooting and hollering bloodlust. Outstanding.
‘Taken’ is at foremost an old school action flick where one really angry dude with a lot of mad skills does battle with a bunch of equally angry dudes who unfortunately aren’t quite as skilled, and it is the action sequences which push ‘Taken’ over the top. Morel really does know how to shoot and frame his action as there was enough running and shooting and killing, all wonderfully captured and filled with enough white knuckle tension for three movies. That is if I had white knuckles.
Now even though I could care less about the films minor issues I suppose it is my responsibility to at least gloss over them. You would think bad guys with automatic weapons could hit a dude as large as Liam Neeson at point blank range. You would think there would be a repercussion or two when one man slaughters a large portion of the Parisian population. You would think that a group of really evil dudes would be at least a little bit suspicious of a supposed French Cop who has invaded their evil lair calling himself Jean Claude, but can’t speak French and doesn’t even have French accent. You would think at least.
Whatever man. ‘Taken’ gave me a warm feeling of old school 1980’s revenge action filled violence and mayhem and I’m not ashamed to say that enjoyed practically every second of it. We’ll save sophistication and class for that next guy. I’ll take a dude getting electrocuted with a pair of rusty nails stuck in his knee caps over that any day of the week.