Sunday, February 08, 2009
Movie Review: Taken
I caught the new Liam Neeson film Taken today. Written by the great Luc Besson and directed by newcomer Pierre Morel, it stars Neeson, along with Famke Janssen and Maggie Grace. The story is about Neeson, an ex-CIA operative who has retired from the spy game to try to re-connect with his slightly estranged daughter. Having lost his marriage to Janssen and missing much of his daughters childhood, Neeson desperately wants to make up for lost time.
When his daughter gets the opportunity to go to Paris with her friends, he reluctantly agrees despite his hesitations, fearful that saying no will propel her farther away. His daughter, played by Maggie Grace, goes to Paris but winds up being kidnapped by Albania sex slave traders. She manges to call her Father on the phone prior to being abducted, and through that call Neeson learns of the plot to take his daughter and vows to find her.
What proceeds is Neeson on a vengeance ridden quest to track down the slavers and kill or torture anyone who stands in his way. The film is interposed with a series of action sequences, from fighting to car chases to shoot-outs. Neeson must call in his old contacts in Paris and take on the Albania mob in order to track down his daughter before the trail grows cold and he loses her forever.
This film was okay. It definitely had the stamp of Luc Besson on it, who after creating movies like The Professional and The Fifth Element, has really resorted to writing fun action films. This movie doesn't exactly break any new ground, its sort of the movie Ransom meets The Bourne Identity films. The fighting short, quick and brutal. You can feel the Besson vibe on the script beats and action sequences, though Neeson lays some weight to the role of the father, being kind to his daughter, but ruthlessly cold to his enemies. This kind of weight typically isn't what movies associated with Besson lately have been come to be known for, often going the straight action actor route. The director Morel translates the fight sequences well on film, keeping the cuts and pans fast and the camera movements very reminiscent of the Bourne films, all shaky and quick.
There really isn't much in the way of a supporting cast sadly, Janssen and Grace are rarely on camera, and the villains are mostly a parade of goons leading from one boss to another. The villains changing at as quick a pace as the action. Still, the film stays fast at a brief 93 minutes and keeps moving forward. It really gives you no reason to slow down.
All in all it was a fun action movie. Not the type i usually go for, being such a sucker for the cheesy fun of films like The Transporter and Shoot'em Up, but this film has some substance amidst the action, sort of a chewy center in an otherwise dismissed genre. Taken is a fun way to blow an hour and a half, though you may appreciate it more on DVD. If you are just looking for some fun fight scenes and fast paced action, then you should enjoy Taken.
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