Friday, 26 September 2008


TAKEN (2008)

Directed by: Pierre Morrel
Written by: Luc Besson & Robert Mark Kamen
Starring: Liam Neeson, Maggie Grace & Famke Jansen

Taken goes for the jugular and never lets go. Liam Neeson plays Bryan Mills a former military/special ops kind of guy who is an expert at, well, killing people. Semi-retired he is attempting to live the quiet life and reconnect with his teenage daughter, Kim (Grace). However, while on vacation in Paris she is kidnapped by some very evil people who plan to sell her and her friend into prostitution. Mills then does what any father with a special set of skills given to him by the government would do: he goes to Paris to track his daughter down and kills the living hell out of anyone who gets in his way and anyone who has anything to do with her disappearance. Tough as nails action returns in a film that makes no apologies for the rough ride it provides in one the year’s best action pictures.

Taken is the best, and most pure, kind of action film. Straight laced and to the point, Taken is a lean, mean, packs a punch film which come the second half delivers action and just desserts for some very bad people in ever increasingly violent ways. Pierre Morrel builds on his equally impressive debut, District 13, by delivering a serious and violent action film that harks back to the 80s golden age of action. No fat, just lean cut meat as Liam Neeson dives into one of his best roles in ages as a man with a mission that he will complete not matter the cost. Neeson is the emotional heart of the film, giving an intense and powerful performance as a man you really do believe could beat the hell out of anyone. He slices through the movie like a shark fin through water, keeping his character grounded in emotional reality no matter how dangerous the situations get. His Bryan Mills dishes out some extreme justice, the violence often flinching and the film never afraid to show the dark side of illegal prostitution rings. Taken hits like a sledgehammer, never letting up, making you feel every punch, gunshot and death as Mills desperately tries to find his daughter before she disappears for ever.

The action is top notch which is expected from the director of District 13 and write/producer Luc Besson. They know how to make action pictures (Kiss of the Dragon, The Transporter) but nothing is glamorized here. When people are killed you feel it and the hand-to-hand combat scenes are impressively brutal, evoking the Bourne films in style and execution. Neeson handles himself well in a number of set pieces and close quarter fights especially when he infiltrates a block of flats where a bunch of bad guys are holed up. The tension is turned up before the inevitable explosion of violence, the viewer knowing fine well that it isn’t gonna turn out well for those bad guys. Great stuff.

Avid deconstructionists and over inflated critics will no doubt balk at the so called ‘lack of plot.’ But that is completely missing the point. Not all plots have to be deep, intricate dissections of the characters and their lives, some plots can just be straight forward in their storytelling. The beauty of storytelling is that there can be all kinds of stories some more complex than others but all worthy of merit. Taken tells a simple story well and in an invigorating manner and we come to know, care about and even hate the few characters we follow as they are caught up in this extraordinary and frightening event.

A small film that leaves a big impression, Taken is a great action film with actors and filmmakers at the top of their game delivering the best the genre has to offer. Go See It.

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