Starring: Liam Neeson, Maggie Grace, Femke Janssen, and Leland Orser
Director: Pierre Morel
Writers: Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen
Released: 20th Century Fox (2008)
"You have to see this movie!"
Those are the words impressed upon me a while back when, during a conversation about favorite films, I told a friend that I hadn't seen Taken yet. After being informed that this was one of the best movies since Braveheart, I was ordered to watch Taken lest I deprive myself of something as vital as air. Now, having seen Taken to see if was worth that hype, I realize I shouldn't have held my breath.
Liam Neeson plays a retired spy on the hunt for his somewhat-estranged teenage daughter who has been abducted in France by sex traffickers, and as I watched I quickly suspected that this was a script originally intended for Harrison Ford. The movie just had that Harrison Ford vibe, you know what I mean? A dutiful father is placed in a life-threatening situation in which he must go to extreme measures to protect his family; it's the kind of movie Ford--let's face it--is known for. But, I guess he was too busy filming that terrible Indiana Jones sequel to bother with this film, and so we get Neeson and his muddled American-ish accent.
There's not really a whole lot to say about the movie. The entire plot is preposterous and requires a fair amount of suspension of disbelief, which I can handle. I just wasn't expecting a movie that was designed less for someone of Liam Neeson's caliber than an action movie scrounged out of Sylvester Stallone's or Bruce Willis' remainder bin. Just think of Taken like this: It's what would happen if Jason Bourne got married, had a kid, then that kid got kidnapped.
It's a fun ninety minutes, don't get me wrong, but when I'm told this is the best movie since Braveheart--and that was a damned good movie, by the way--I expect a little more depth and subtext to the movie. Foolish on my part, I now realize. There are fights, chases, gun fights, more chases, and a couple of nice one-liners for Neeson. Famke Janssen appears early in the film as Neeson's ex-wife, playing the scornful wedge between father and daughter like there's no tomorrow, but her role is one of a precious few given any consideration in terms of character.
Rent it, nuke some popcorn, and enjoy. Just don't set the bar too high because Braveheart this is not.