Taken - Movie Review
There is a plot to Taken, but it can simply be undermined by saying that for 90 minutes we get to watch Liam Neeson get his B.A. degree in kicking ass and chewing bubblegum. And Liam Neeson's all out of gum. Sure, there's something about his daughter being kidnapped while on a trip to France, the city of love and prostitution (mostly prostitution), and being sold to Jabba the Hut. Really, all of that is more of an excuse for action. The film can simply be described as Liam Neeson (apparently starring as himself) getting to kill every single person on screen. Immediately. When he does, it's incredibly satisfying. "Kill them good, Liam," you might say as you give an approving nod. "Don't stop. Even when their down, just keep shooting them." Is it sick? Maybe. But such is love.
Taken has the unfortunate hinderance of a highly polished gleam which occasionally clashes with the gritty subject matter and Liam Neeson's relentless crotch kicking and face-punching. His daughter is too bubbly, too active, and a person who strikes me as someone who Liam Neeson would have broken a long time ago. Are we really to believe that two 17 year old kids that jump on couches and take taxi rides with sketchy French men are in Europe for a U2 concert tour? Somehow I find it easier to believe that Liam Neeson could kill anyone just by giving them a disapproving nod. The man is unstoppable in this film, and most likely in real-life too. I'm that convinced. Taken shines best when it lets him do what he was born to do, and falters when it strays too far from that.
I've watched the movie twice now and zoned out both times during a scene which involves a construction-site car chase. Maybe it's just because I've seen too many James Bond films where it doesn't matter how many machine-guns are firing, the good guy still speeds away completely unchanged. Just because a character is moving doesn't mean he's moving forward in the narrative, something has to happen to justify us watching. Even still, the chase has a satisfying conclusion, one which involves a probable beheading and Liam Neeson being awesome.
I really liked Taken. In fact, I liked the first 20 minutes too where Liam Neeson isn't constantly killing people. Had I known nothing of the film I suppose his sudden transformation from down-and-out father figure to cold-blooded executioner would be even more satisfying. Considering how satisfying his transformation already is, Taken on it's own is extremely successful and immensely entertaining.