20th Century Fox Films
Directed by Pierre Morel
Starring Liam Neeson, Maggie Grace, Famke Janssen, Holly Vance, Xander Berkley and Leland Orser
Even when they’re done poorly, action flicks have a certain masculine appeal that makes them enjoyable, at least at a visceral level. It may be just a red meat, man thing, but guys will put up with bad acting and mindless screenplays provided that the film ultimately delivers in the Kicking Butt Department. And if the action flick happens to be done well and features a solid leading man? Well, the girlfriends and wives may want to take a pass, but most guys will be in pure cinematic heaven.
Which brings us to “Taken,” one of those well-done action flicks that will make men grin with Neanderthal delight. Co-written by Luc Besson and directed by his protégé Pierre Morel, “Taken” is the story of a father whose daughter goes to Paris and is immediately kidnapped by Albanian sex slave traders. The kidnappers have no idea that the girl’s father is a former government agent, skilled in the lethal arts and more than ready to cut a bloody swath of destruction through the underbelly of Paris in his attempt to rescue his daughter.
Think Jack Bauer run amok in Paris, and you’ll get the idea.
Kidnapping someone’s daughter is a solid motivating set up for an action flick, but when you throw an actor of Liam Neeson’s caliber into the mix, “Taken” ramps up into something special. The film features some ham-fisted dialogue, but given Neeson’s ability as an actor, the lines never feel cheesy. More to the point, Neeson is 55 years old, but brings such an overwhelming presence to his performance that it’s easy to see him as an action hero. Never once did I doubt his ability to take out the bad guys.
I do have my doubts about some of the film’s story points (do teenage girls still follow U2 around in concert? Can Albanians really get you within hours of arriving in a foreign country?) Fortunately, somewhat-sloppy storytelling never gets in the way of this briskly paced action adventure. We get a non-stop series of fistfights, gun battles and over the top car chases, all packed into an hour-and-a-half of guy-friendly fun.
Ultimately “Taken” isn’t going to be remembered as a cinematic masterpiece, and it won’t hold up for audiences who demand that their stories make complete sense. I freely admit that this film is a bit of a guilty pleasure, but I was “Taken” by this thoroughly enjoyable action flick.
Movie reviews by Sean, “The Movie Guy,” are published bi-weekly in “The Port Arthur News” and weekly on KFDM-TV. Sean welcomes your comments via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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