Tagline: The time for revenge has come.
Directed by Pierre Morel
Starring Liam Neeson, Maggie Grace, Famke Janssen
Steven Seagal’s– er, Liam Neeson’s daughter is kidnapped. Neeson heads to Europe to kill the kidnappers and rescue his daughter. Commando in Europe.
Trying to work around people’s general dislike of Seagal films, the producers of Taken disguise the film as something other than an action vehicle. This may or may not work in advertising, but the film still kicks all kinds of ass as Liam Neeson’s Seagal butchers and tortures his way through France in an damn fine action flick. But watch the unrated version.
The story is as basic as an 80s action film: the daughter is kidnapped, so the father (who is trained in all kinds of super secret special Steven Seagal fighting and torturing techniques) goes off to save her. What is also very 80s/early 90s is the action. Don’t be fooled by any of the advertising, this film is a straight action piece. If it starred Dolph Lundgren, then you’d find it in the DTV section of your local video store. That’s Hollywood’s double standard for ya.
The action certainly delivers in Taken. What’s best about it is that, aside from the Jeep chase/explosion sequence, there is very little shaky-cam work here. We get a lot of people (including innocents) shot, beaten, stabbed, tortured by electric shock, and even run over.+5 points
The film actually plays like a lot of DTV films I’ve seen, with the guns never so loud and the explosions bright, but not overwhelming. The action is not meant to impress here so much as it is done as to reflect a gritty, realistic style like the Jason Bourne films. However, Neeson’s Bryan Mills could probably kick Matt Damon’s little ass any day of the week. Especially if that week was spent in France.
Neeson moves up in the world here, playing Bryan Mills just as Steven Seagal would have circa 1992. He’s pretty deadened by the things he’s had to do for the government and just wants to connect with his estranged daughter. But what’s really cool about Bryan Mills is that he also learned how to beat anything out of anyone, and that includes their life or locations to sex slave auctions (you’ll see what I mean). Neeson’s tall frame and odd looks really sell his scariness, and when you see what he can do, you believe everything the guy says.
It’s sad that in today’s films we can no longer just have action stars. Sure, we still have Stallone and Statham, but most of the action films of today are headlined by “serious actors” who spend a few weeks training and have to be covered with darkened sets, quick cuts, and shaky camera work. There was a time when action stars were hired because they looked the part and, more importantly, because they could probably actually do a lot of the things that they were depicted doing.
That said, the film was still an excellent ride. It was bittersweet seeing a Seagal movie work so well, but it was sad that Seagal couldn’t star in it. However, Liam is a good enough actor to make you believe what he’s doing and I hope that they make some more of these films.
9 outta 10