Taken, An Adrenaline Packed Rescue Movie

We recently watched Taken (written by Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen) staring Liam Neeson (Star Wars: Phantom Menace, Batman Begins, The Chronicles of Narnia), Famke Jannsen (GoldenEye, Nip/Tuck, X-Men), and Maggie Grace (The Fog, Lost). I actually didn’t know what to expect, I was figuring this was another one of those lame hostage/rescue movies, but it actually turned out very entertaining for the run-time of 91 minutes.

Liam Neeson from Taken
© Image from TimeOutSydney.com.au

The general premise of the movie is retired-CIA clandestine agent, Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) has recently retired and moved closer to his daughter, Kim (Maggie Grace), and ex-wife (Lenore, played by Famke Jannsen) who lives with her new wealthy husband (Stuart, played by Xander Berkley) to try an reconcile and make up for the lost time with his daughter when he was busy serving his county. His daughter and ex-wife meet with him for lunch one-day where his daughter Kim is seeking his permission, because she is a minor, for a trip to Paris with her friend and her friend’s cousins. He eventually grudgingly agrees, but in a twist, learns that she is in-fact not just going to Paris but all over Europe. Mills being extremely paranoid from his years as a clandestine agent is about to call it off, but his ex-wife manages to convince him to let her go never-the-less. She goes, but ends up getting kidnapped and starts off a whirlwind rescue mission by Mills in which he only has 96-hours to rescue her.

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I think what makes this movie so good and entertaining are two elements: Liam Neesom and the lack of heavy special effects.

takenmovieLiam Neeson is a great actor who takes Mills and makes him feel like an everyday person despite being a secret agent. Mills is far from rich, he has his flaws, and has no depth to where he would go to save his child from danger. He’s the super-dad without being the Hollywood super-dad where he jumps building-to-building, get shot at but never wounded, or captured. Mills kicks major ass in this movie, fueled by the unstoppable raison d’être to rescue his daughter before she’s lost forever. He doesn’t have an army, special forces, fancy James Bond technology, or even “inside” help for that matter. It’s just one man against many, risking his life to save his daughter.

I love special effects as much as any other guy but only if the special effects compliments the scene or the movie and not used to overshadow a crappy storyline. Take the case of the last few Bond movies prior to Casino Royale. Invisible cars, cars that drive themselves, a wrist-band grappling hook, the list goes on. On the other hand, in Taken, Mills has to rely on “..a very particular set of skills..” to rescue his daughter. There were some scenes where I thought, oh no, here comes those Hollywood special effects, but rather Pierre Morel (the director) resist the urge and goes the other way, effectively.

Parts of the movie require the willing suspension of disbelief such as the numerous coincidences that just seem to work out a bit too perfectly. I don’t want to list them as that would ruin the interest of the movie, but never-the-less, we found it quite a good watch. Here’s a site with some interesting reads about Taken, be-careful as it may contain spoilers.

Verdict: Definite Rent.

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