1 hour, 34 minutes
Full Price (New Rating!)
After years of putting work first, Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson, Rob Roy), has retired from the government to be an active participant in the life of his seventeen year old daughter Kim (Maggie Grace, The Fog). To win her affections, Bryan agrees to let Kim summer in Paris with her bestest girlfriend. As Kim checks in with daddy dearest, the girls are abducted. Bryan, going only on their last call, has 96 hours to rescue the girls before they are lost forever to the seedy world of human trafficking.
Transporter writers Luc Bessson and Robert Mark Kamen craft an exciting character-centric action film. The abduction is the only sequence that doesn't feature Bryan. Early on the focus establishes Bryan's unease with being retired and with his ex-wife and daughter's new family. It's clear his passion lies in his work, though his love for his daughter rises above all else. When she is taken Bryan's love and anger spur him to action; combined with his particular set of skills he becomes a reckoning force on the streets of Paris.
Neeson hasn't kicked ass this much since Darkman. Sure, he was badass in Batman Begins but the adrenaline-induced, wrath of vengeance as Darkman better describes Taken's Bryan. More importantly, Neeson's talents give Bryan a depth of character that not any actor could have acheived. The supporting cast is window dressing. Famke Janssen (The Wackness) is becoming quite adept at the role of the indignant wife/ex-wife. Maggie Grace, though 25, passes for the virtuous teenage damsel.
Did I mention how much ass-kicking Neeson does? Each fuzzy clue Bryan uncovers yields more and more victims that meet either their demise or an EMT. Neeson is unrelenting and nigh unstoppable whether facing a hail of bullets, in an off-road car chase or tied up and outnumbered. Some moments do stretch the edges of believability but few action films manage to stay completely grounded. Director Pierre Morel (District B-13) proves once again that he can deliver intense and entertaining action. I'm most excited to watch Taken again on DVD, when it will no doubt be unrated to reveal more of the nasty cuts, bruises and bloodshed.
The Money Shot
I came out of Taken with no complaints. In the trailer, Neeson promises the abductor, "I will look for you. I will find you. And I will kill you." A simple premise, but one that Taken delivers at every turn for your enjoyment.
Friday, February 13, 2009