Taken (2008)

taken1_2008_poster
Taken (2008)
  • Time: 93 min
  • Genre: Action | Crime | Thriller
  • Director: Pierre Morel
  • Cast: Liam Neeson, Maggie Grace, Famke Janssen

Storyline:

After reluctantly agreeing to let his 17-year-old daughter, Kim (Maggie Grace), go to France with her best friend, Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) is horrified to hear that she is kidnapped by an Albanian gang whose specialty is prostitution rings. With only 96 hours to go before he’ll never find her again, Bryan rushes to France to save her. As a former CIA agent, he has all the skills necessary to rescue her – if he can only find her.

2 reviews

  • Luc Besson is a great guy, makes great action movies but is pretty average for sequels, but overall his filmography has surpassed many net U.S. failures. While one knows his films of the 80s, yet today we find quality productions like “Lockout” and this “Taken”. Is that actually despite his French nationality, Besson makes American-style cinema which only adds a clever writing. In this case, “Taken” is a film quite devastated by U.S. critics, but these same critics would have to swallow some of their words with the huge success of the movie. Although half-truths: “Taken” is a bit overrated by the public, but that does not mean it’s bad

    Let’s start with the good, or almost. Admittedly , the first few minutes are a waste, the ordinary course to enter in action without being bombastic . But the characters are not very nice except Nesson: his daughter is an egomaniac, and the mother… an egomaniac. Two girls irritants in order to prove that Liam Nesson was right whe he says things will get very bad. But Nesson is not a big deal neither, just saves a Pop singer (Beyoncé? Seems Mariah Carey… when Mariah Carey wanted to imitate Beyoncé) and tells her about sugar soft drinks to reduce shock… because this man is an specialist; are you not heard?

    But if you forget about these platitudes, what follows is pure amazing delirium. The film does not work because it contains unbridled action but because writing is quite clever. Of course , if you’re cynical, you could asseverate some improbabilities (trivial clues, the fact that the Nesson agent stroll through France without much hassle and with only one contact, that Nesson delves into the most dangerous places without the thugs are warning, and some Deus Ex Machina), but despite all this the Besson script uses ingenious details (card of good luck, kidnap reconstruction leading to Liam hiding in the same bed), plausible sentences (“You have a 96-hour… to never findng her”) and a fairly common psychology sense (when threats to Olivier Rabourdin, shoots his wife). This could be Jason Bourne, but Besson’s script points to what the heterogeneous public really loves, and there is nothing more the heterogeneous public can love as see a current topic in the XXI century as people trafficking and discover all the tricks of an operation. Okay, “Taken” will not turn the viewer into professional agent of bailouts or the CIA, but the best moments are in probable improbabilities: are in Nesson placing a microphone to a dealer without him knowing, are in the card “Good luck “, are in Nesson torturing Marko de Tropoya wildly for information, are in Nesson shooting Rabourdin wife to threaten (threaten really bad), are in Nesson escape the French police with a simple trick, are in quotes for posters. It is in these delusional details that “Taken” is brilliant. The action scenes are good, are not dizzy and enjoyable; but the heart is in the clever writing by Luc Besson and in fact there is not much action here but is the connector for agent research. Of course, this is linear routine of the 80s movies, but a little more able (barely)

    (Warning: minor spoilers in this paragraph) But despite the praise the script, this is also the one that offers the most questionable moments in the movie. And here one might conclude that “Taken” is a success thanks to the director, not the script; it may seem a contradiction to the above. “Taken” has enough serious moments that could blow its merits and make the film crash on the pavement. There is a fairly discriminatory and treacherous tone if not for Pierre Morel reminds us that we are facing a surface action film, could make the film sucks. The most obvious case is that of the friend Amanda (Katie Cassidy), which is portrayed as a stereotype of easy girl (she almost likes international or interracial sex. Did not remember, something like “Brown Sugar” by Rolling Stones) and of course she finally dies. But as Mr Liam is worried about his daughter, hardly give importance to the situation of Amanda and continues as usual. These uncomfortable moments are also presented in general: we are seeing a lot of girls in prostitution of which we do not know if escaped or remain in that such places and conditions, becuse Nesson only concerned his daughter (at least the script could have written these girls were released and Amanda had a decent burial, but that under these standards, Maggie Grace just got lucky for being the daughter of the protagonist). Also the scene of torture, which is illegal but could “justify” saying that a father would do anything for a child. The problem is not that, but certain dialogues are not so good, as Nesson telling the tortured about torture methods he used in the third world . Listen to Nesson saying about his “job” in the Third World is disgusting, even if it is a dialogue to spend. But the most bizarre and fascinating at the same time is the place where virgins are sold, which is an excess. View criminals committing very illegal andheinous act in a club that looks like a high-class hotel, located in not unfamiliar streets of Paris, with all the luxury and champagne, with all the ceremony and protocol, is ridiculous and fanciful. It is an act of treachery, but it is there that the director makes it fascinating because we are in an action film, and an intelligent and smart action film

    “Taken” is a powerful film for its ingenious script and improbable but ingenious, but also the same in the claims to make an American movie floods a disgusting treachery. Fortunately, it is still a surface production whose intelligence can impress and captivate even those who are not fans of the genre

  • Taken is the second feature collaboration by Frenchmen Luc Besson and Pierre Morel, and I shall put it as bluntly as possible – it sucks. The film stars Liam Neeson in the lead role and he happens to be the only bright spark in an utterly forgettable action-thriller which neither thrills nor entertains. Morel is yet to be established as a reliable filmmaker although Taken assures us that he is still far from that level.

    Writer Besson has made a few unique films over his mostly prolific career including his debut The Last Combat (1983), and the stylish thriller Leon (1994). Yet the creator of Nikita (1990) and The Fifth Element (1997) flounders with his newest screenplay which is an impotent mix of cliché-ridden action set-pieces and uninspired storytelling.

    Taken tells the story of an ex-government spy, Bryan Mills (Neeson) whose daughter, Kim, is kidnapped and forced into slavery. Using his set of cunning and deadly skills developed over decades in spy missions, Bryan hunts down the criminals without remorse. Neeson, who has considerably aged since the days of Schindler’s List (1993), brings some depth to Bryan despite his character being averagely-developed by Besson.

    To his credit, Neeson makes what his character does for a living seem like easy party tricks, albeit through the use of body doubles. He breaks necks like twigs, shoots with unnerving accuracy, tortures mercilessly, and for the entire film, he works alone; without bumbling sidekicks, without romantic distractions. This one-man-show could have been an asset to the film if it is written as a character study rather than a brainless action vehicle.

    Brainless films can actually be entertaining if one substitutes content with visual flair. But as bad as it sounds, Taken has neither. The most critical flaw I can find is the generally poor editing during action sequences. There is negligible suspense created and this is best exemplified during a scene when Bryan, in an attempt to chase a large departing boat, drives an Audi against traffic flow at blinding speeds. As much as Neeson tries hard to make us like Bryan, we have not much of a reason to fear for the life of his character.

    Moreover, the one-dimensionality of the film’s countless villains means that they are killed off without any emphasis on human drama. There is also scant screen time for Kim, thus she feels almost like a stranger to us. Really, apart from Neeson’s, what is there to care about the other film characters? It does not take an experienced movie critic to observe that Taken is a weak addition to a genre overpopulated with enough Takens. Not since John McTiernan’s Die Hard (1988) has most action-thrillers (the one-man-show kind) barely look the part.

    GRADE: F (4.5/10 or 2 stars)
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