‘Taken’ (2008) 600 Word DVD Review

August 27, 2009 § 2 Comments

Score: 4 out of 5

Bryan Mills’ (Liam Neeson) seventeen-year-old daughter, Kim (Maggie Grace), is kidnapped while vacationing in Paris. Mills also happens to be a former spy, and he’ll be damned if he’s going to let a bunch of Eastern European thugs take his daughter away from him. So, guess what? In true vigilante form he goes down there to rescue his daughter while raining down great vengeance and furious anger on those who perpetrated this wicked deed. As high concept exploitation films go, Taken pretty much ticks all the boxes. The only thing missing is Harrison Ford running around, screaming at the terrorists bad guys, “I want my daughter back!” Instead, we’ll have to make do with Oskar Schindler over here.

As much as Taken is almost completely run-of-the-mill in terms of story, it’s slickly made, and there are a couple of nice surprises that usurp the traditional script. Admittedly, the introduction is horribly cliché, with the ex-wife (Famke Janssen) being written firmly into “bitch” territory and Bryan is, of course, painted as the poor, misunderstood ex-husband and father that he really is. Frankly, it’s so horribly one-sided and amateurish that it’s close to the level of a joke. Also, Holly Valance is there in the beginning, and I’m sorry, but I still find it difficult not to think of her as Flick from Neighbours.

All is forgiven, however, when Kim gets kidnapped and Bryan has to go off and save her. It’s to the film’s credit that it moves very quickly to the kidnapping and this culminates into probably the best scene of the movie: where Bryan is on the phone to his daughter just prior to her getting “Taken”. In an unconventional little twist, he tells his daughter, point blank, that she is going to be kidnapped in about ten seconds and that the best thing that she can do is to give him as much information as possible about the kidnappers before they eventually find her.

Finally, as Kim is dragged away kicking and screaming on the other end of the line, he calmly announces to one of the kidnappers – in the most burly, gravel-y Irish accent he can muster – that “I will look for you, I will find you, and I will kill you.” It’s a fantastic set up, and even though the film more or less treads familiar territory from that point onwards, it’s still enough to get you pumped up and looking forward to Neeson punching guys in the throat.

Dramatic re-imagining of a fight scene from Taken.

Expressionistic re-imagining of a fight scene from Taken.

And there is a lot of that – action, I mean. There’s a lot of fighting, shooting, a couple of car chases, a bit of torture, etc. You know? The usual stuff. Really, the only thing stopping this film from being completely average is Liam Neeson. He’s definitely a vigilante I can get behind – tough, strong and unsentimental – while he also plays the estranged, loving father rather well, too. Neeson takes the character in the direction it needs, with all the ruthlessness, intelligence and physical brutality it requires.

In short, it’s a B-movie with high production values, and Neeson does enough of a good job with the central character to make it worth watching. For the most part it doesn’t particularly extend itself, and there are at least a couple of incredulous moments in there, but its quick pace and breezy running time work in its favour, as does its lovely lashings of ultra-violence.

(566 words.)

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§ 2 Responses to ‘Taken’ (2008) 600 Word DVD Review

  • Chris White says:

    Glad you enjoyed this one man. I found it really enjoyable. As you said, not much self-extension, but no pretense that it ever would try that either.

    That quote you mentioned is awesome – Neeson carries that line off perfectly. The matter-of-factness in his voice as he says “I will kill you” hits the ball right out of the stadium.

    Great review too 🙂

    • yangchu says:

      Yeah, I love that line, too. The line just after that where there’s a brief pause and the other guy replies, “Good luck”, is also awesome. That whole sequence where she gets kidnapped really is good.

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