Short version: While parts of it are a stretch, overall Liam Neeson makes Taken an extremely satisfying action flick.
Screen Rant reviews Taken
My opinion of Taken may be skewed – I have a daughter. So a movie that shows a father’s daughter being kidnapped and the father going after the perpetrators with a vengeance most definitely speaks to me.
Another factor in favor of the film is casting an older actor as a kick ass action hero: Liam Neeson. Of course the flip side is that having a 56 year old “regular guy” kicking major amounts of butt does strain credulity just a bit.
Taken opens with Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) in the living room of a modest home. He’s alone and seems lonely. It turns out that he is divorced and is trying to make up for lost time with his daughter Kim (Maggie Grace). His ex-wife Lenore (a very stiff Famke Janssen) has married a rich man, and Bryan is having a hard time competing with that, even though his Kim obviously loves him.
Kim wants to go on a trip to France with a friend, but being ex-CIA and familiar with the dangers that are out there doesn’t want her to go. His ex-wife bullies him and his daughter’s disappointment finally convinces him to reluctantly let her go, but with a bunch of rules for calling him and checking in often.
Of course he turns out to be right and she and her friend are kidnapped rather soon after their arrival in Paris. Kim calls her dad while terrified as she sees her friend being manhandled, knowing that she is next. Bryan immediately goes into “CIA mode” during the call and when one of the kidnappers gets on the phone Bryan tells him that he has kidnapped the wrong person in no uncertain terms.
He heads off to Paris alone to track down the kidnappers and save his daughter, and that’s where the fun really begins. Despite the heavy tone of the film and what is at stake, it’s great watching Neeson as he follows the breadcrumbs, taking twists and turns (some of which are VERY unexpected) in tracking down his daughter’s whereabouts.
Surprisingly, Taken is rated PG-13. They manage this with the old “no blood visible” trick, but from the amount of violence and the subject matter (teen girls being kidnapped for sale into prostitution and addicted to serious drugs) I certainly think this should have been rated R.
Neeson is calm, cool and he kicks all kinds of bad guy butt. I enjoyed the film so much I could easily sit through it again, but it did have its flaws. Why did his CIA buddies not offer to go along and help? Some of the action scenes are a bit unbelievable considering how outnumbered Neeson is and the fact that they don’t present him as an uber-buff Stallone character. The number of dots he connects within a short span of time is also hard to swallow. And one of the people he kills at the end of the film with no repercussions is a bit hard to swallow.
But enough with the nit-picking: Taken was a rocking good time, especially during this January/February time of year when there isn’t much worth seeing at the movies.