Posts Tagged ‘Jack Bauer’

Movie Review: ‘Taken’

February 6, 2009

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There are so many films I’ve been meaning to see.  Gran Torino.  Slumdog Millionaire.  Frost/Nixon (even though it’s directed by Ron Howard).  And yet, when I had some spare time last week, what do I end up seeing?  Taken.

Not that Taken is a terrible film.  It’s just that with so many Oscar-nominated films FINALLY playing in my neck of the woods, I felt a little disappointed in myself that I didn’t see what I really wanted to see.  (I did this once before a few years ago, when I was eager to see Clint Eastwood’s  Letters From Iwo Jima but instead–inexplicably–saw Pedro Almadovar’s melodrama Volver instead.)

Taken is the kind of action that has its heart in the right place but lacks any real dramatic weight, which for a film that deals with human trafficking is something it desperately needed.

20th Century Fox

20th Century Fox

What’s it about? Liam Neeson stars as Bryan Mills, a retired U.S. Secret Opps-type of guy who, after years of being absent on secret military missions, is doing his best to be a part of his teenage daughter Kim’s (Maggie Grace) life.  Unable to compete with his daughter’s mother (Famke Janssen) and stepfather (Xander Berkeley), Bryan reluctantly grants permission for Kim to go to Paris, France alone with only her cousin Amanda (Katie Cassidy).

While in Paris, Kim calls her father right when she witnesses Amanda being kidnapped.  (If you didn’t watch the trailer above, now’s the time to do it.)  Kim is taken too, and Bryan uses his Jack Bauer-like skills to bring his daughter home.

What’s good about it? Taken sheds some light on a dirty international secret: human trafficking.  (The girls are abducted, drugged, then forced into prostitution.)  It’s a deplorable, disgusting trade, and you can’t help but root for Neeson as he kicks, stabs and shoots his way through low-life thugs, up to the highest bidders.

What’s bad about it? Don’t get me wrong–you want Neeson to get to his daughter.  But had director Pierre Morel made Kim less of a spoiled rich girl (her stepfather gives her a friggin’ HORSE for her birthday) and more of a girl who’s never had a lot of friends or opportunities, I would have rooted for Neeson even more.  (It also didn’t help that Maggie Grace, while 25 in real life, is playing a 17 year-old who acts like she’s 12.)

I’m okay with Neeson plowing through thugs and lowlifes, but –SPOILER ALERT– in one scene, she shoots an innocent person in the arm to get a complacent frenemy to do something for him.  Shooting an innocent person to get to the bad guys?  That crosses the line.  And from that point on, the movie lost me.

Perfect for: fans of Liam Neeson and/or the Transporter movies.