Friday, August 15, 2008

Movie Review: Taken

From french director Pierre Morel, who brought us District 13, comes a new spy thriller called Taken, starring no other than Liam Neeson. It debuted in France on February 27th, and has been shown all over Europe and Asia since, but is scheduled to come to America on September 19th. The film follows a former American secret agent named Bryan (Neeson). His wife (Famke Janssen) left him years ago, taking their teenage daughter with her and marrying a rich man (Xander Bereley). But Bryan seems pretty content, and maintains a loving relationship with his daughter, Kim (Maggie Grace). When Kim wants to spend a week in Paris with her friends, Bryan is reluctant, but his wife dismisses his concerns as paranoia developed by his years as a spy. Nevertheless, he allows her to go. Not hours after Kim lands in Paris, she and her friend meet a young man named Peter (Nicolas Giraud), who flirts with the girls and learns where they are staying. Apparently Daddy was right, because hours later, some foreign thugs break into the girls apartment and take them hostage. Fortunately, Bryan was on the phone with his daughter when the abduction occurred, and deduces the kidnappers identity. What follows is a rampage across Paris, as Bryan carves his way through the french underworld to save his daughter. But he only has 96 hours to find her, before she is sold into sexual slavery and disappears forever.

The Pros: Obviously, the primary selling point to this film is Liam Neeson. I don't know about you, but Liam Neeson is one of my favorite actors. He has incredible presence, and a voice rivaling Morgan Freeman's. And anyone who thinks Liam Neeson isn't a bad@$$ has another thing coming. Remember, this is the guy who taught Batman and Obi-Wan Kenobi everything they knew. And I haven't seen Neeson this brutal since Darkman. This guy shows no mercy, to anyone, not just his enemies, when his daughter is at stake. Neeson gives another great performance, portraying a loving father who will do anything (and I mean anything) to save his daughter.While Neeson is definitely the dominant presence onscreen, the rest of the cast also do well. Maggie Grace was particularly good and believable as Bryan's daughter. She really made me care about her character (partially because she reminded me of my sister). Pierre Morel proves himself a excellent director, capturing a good sense of realism, and well as giving the film a genuine threatening edge.

The Cons: The action can be a little lackluster at times. Aside from Bryan, none of the character's are very memorable, not that they're meant to be. It's pretty clear that the budget for this film is not huge, and most of the money probably went to the actor's salaries. Don't get me wrong, it's an exciting film. It's just not on Parr with bigger blockbuster films like The Bourne Identity action-wise.

The End: After a steroid-pumped summer dud like Wanted, it's nice to see a decent action movie for a change. No, that's selling it short. This a great movie, smart and well-made. Liam Neeson is a consistently wonderful actor, and makes no exception here. It will satisfy Liam Neeson fans and spy film fans alike, and makes an excellent appetizer while we wait for Quantum of Solace.

Overall, I rate Taken as an 8 out of 10.

Click here to visit the official (french language) website for Taken.

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