93 Min | Action – Crime – Thriller | September 2008
IMDB Rating: 7.9
Director: Pierre Morel
Starring: Liam Neeson, Maggie Grace, Famke Janssen
Taken Review: Since the entire plot of this film is given away in the masterfully delivered trailer, it’s not divulging anything to say that Taken is a modern-day revenge thriller. This presents an interesting experiment, actually. Considering that there aren’t really any surprises to be found in Taken, beyond those we were offered in the pre-release snippet, are splendidly realized action sequences enough to carry this film? The answer here is a resounding “yes”. Taken may be a simple film, but it’s not simplistic, and even though the first third of it is spent recapping what we knew going in, the second and third acts here deliver enough thrills and action to make this film riveting, even if we know exactly where it’s going.
The selling point here is how deftly Liam Neeson hacks his way through a bevy of Albanian baddies. Neeson is untested as an action star, but watching him maneuver his way through the sea of detritus here, we’re left hoping that he’s got a franchise in him. Taken may not have the intricacies of the expertly crafted Bourne films (although, like every action film made since Bourne appeared on the screen, the fight scenes here owe an obviously rich debt to Matt Damon’s antics), but the gritty and realistic path Neeson carves to get to his stolen daughter is sufficient to deliver the promise implied by the fantastic trailer. Taken doesn’t really care if you like Liam Neeson or wonder if he’s doing the right thing by flagrantly taking the law into his own hands, the film just wants you to strap yourself in and enjoy the tidings as he hands out beat-downs all over Paris.
Taken doesn’t want you to think. Like Neeson’s character quickly realizes, thinking is often not a luxury present in dire circumstances like these. Action is what counts, and for those who miss the era of the lean, mean 85-minute skull-crack fest, Taken will re-conjure the giddy thrills of watching Dudikoff, Seagal, and Van-Damme chomp through a slew of B-Movie terrorists. Having an Oscar-caliber actor delivering the judo chops only sweetens the pot. Forget about Oscars, plot points, or coherence. This dude’s daughter has been kidnapped, and he’s a former government agent trained to make bad guys’ lives a living hell. Do you want to see him find his daughter and take down the scum who took her? Of course you do. Even reading this review is over-analyzing it.