Liam Neeson stars in this action movie as an ex-government agent who has to use all of his particular skills and know-how when his daughter (Maggie Grace) is kidnapped once she arrives in Paris. Oh yeah, the ex-wife (Famke Janssen) and daughter were thinking of how unfair and overprotective this particular father was but it’s a different tune when things take a turn for the worse. Thankfully, Neeson is too busy chasing down bad guys and blowing them away to say “I told you so”.
There’s nothing new in Taken and not much that hasn’t been done better elsewhere but there’s also not much downtime once the action begins so you don’t really start spotting the gaping plotholes and picking apart the many flaws until the credits have rolled.
Director Pierre Morel works from a script by Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen, which should give you an idea of what to expect. Many people have compared this to the Bourne movies but it’s actually more like an updated take on Commando, with biceps replaced by intelligence and bullets (well, actually, Commando had plenty of bullets too so maybe it’s only the intelligence replacing the biceps here).
The cast are all okay but this is Neeson’s show from start to finish and the actor acquits himself very well (with this movie and the likes of Batman Begins, The A-Team and Unknown it looks as if the actor is kickstarting a late action phase in his filmography). Neeson may be coming up for 60 years of age but he’s still in remarkably good shape and brings a believability to the action sequences, using all of his wits and experience as much as his fists and guns. The rest of the cast are either there to be kidnapped (Grace), upset on the sidelines (Janssen) or to be run down and killed as our heroic father journeys through Paris like a one-man army. Oh, and Holly Valance is there.
The action sequences are, overall, a lot of fun and mix the occasional cool manoeuvre with some hard-hitting violence. In fact, the only time the movie disappoints in the action department is during a shaky and over-edited car chase sequence that almost gave this particular viewer a headache.
The script is, as you would expect, pretty economical and really just moving from one action sequence to the next. Sure, we get the father-daughter relationship set up at the beginning and some other complications to show us how Neeson is a caring guy but a caring guy who has been toughened up by the world he has seen around him while getting his job done but this is all just getting us on his side before he has to start his killing spree.
Plenty to criticise, sure, but also plenty to sit back and enjoy, not least letting your ears ring to the tune of a growling Neeson declaring the following: “I don’t know who you are. I don’t know what you want. If you are looking for ransom, I can tell you I don’t have money. But what I do have are a very particular set of skills; skills I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you. If you let my daughter go now, that’ll be the end of it. I will not look for you, I will not pursue you. But if you don’t, I will look for you, I will find you, and I will kill you.”
And you just know that the man aims to keep his word.
DIRECTOR: PIERRE MOREL
STARS: LIAM NEESON, MAGGIE GRACE, FAMKE JANSSEN, OLIVIER RABOURDIN
RUNTIME: 90 MINS APPROX