Thursday, July 24, 2014

#1,438. Taken (2008)

Directed By: Pierre Morel

Starring: Liam Neeson, Maggie Grace, Famke Janssen

Tag line: "His daughter was taken. He has 96 hours to get her back"

Trivia: According to Liam Neeson, he agreed to take this role because he believed that the film was going to be a straight-to-DVD release

The award-winning star of such movies as Schindler’s List, Rob Roy, and Kinsey, Liam Neeson kicked off a second career as an action hero in 2008’s Taken, a film about a former CIA agent named Bryan Mills (Neeson) who comes out of retirement to save his daughter Kim (Maggie Grace), who, while vacationing in Europe, is kidnapped by Albanian sex traffickers. With little information to go on, Mills makes his way to Paris, where he does everything in his power to track down those responsible and, in the process, inflict his own special brand of justice.

Despite its somewhat simple premise, Taken is a top-notch action flick with a number of tense showdowns, yet the film’s most impressive aspect is its bad-ass hero. As portrayed by Neeson, Bryan Mills is a no-nonsense guy who focuses all of his energy on the task at hand. In what is arguably the film's most intense sequence, Mills is on the phone with his daughter when the kidnappers show up. Shortly after she’s been taken, one of the kidnappers picks up her cell phone, at which point Mills issues him a very specific warning: “If you are looking for ransom”, he says to the kidnapper, “I can tell you I don’t have money. But what I do have are a very particular set of skills, skills I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you”. From that moment on, Mills is a one-man wrecking crew, relying first on his abilities as an investigator (he’s able to identify a key suspect by analyzing a digital picture and finding a miniscule image of the man’s reflection), and, later on, some of his other “skills” (in one exciting scene, he faces off against an entire room full of baddies, finishing them off before he can break a sweat). True to his word, Bryan Mills is, indeed, a nightmare for his enemies, and Neeson does an excellent job conveying his character’s single-mindedness.

Co-written by Luc Besson, who in recent years was also responsible for such high-energy motion pictures as The Transporter and 2005’s Unleashed (aka Danny the Dog), Taken features all sorts of great action, but it’s the film’s main character, as well as its star, that makes it an unforgettable experience.

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