Commentary on Movies and TV by Brian Holcomb

Thursday, February 19, 2009


Directed by Pierre Morel
Written by Luc Besson & Robert Mark Kamen
Cast: Liam Neeson, Maggie Grace, Famke Janssen, Xander Berkely, Olivier Rabourdin, Holly Valance, Katie Cassidy

TAKEN is a by-the-numbers action flick from the action factory of Luc Besson and his partner in screenwriting crime Robert Mark Kamen. The thing is, most filmmakers have lost those numbers so this is actually a very welcome old fashioned B-flick. It's the kind of movie that was once commonplace in the days of Charles Bronson and director Michael Winner-a tough, no frills thriller that delivers EXACTLY what it promises and nothing more. Casting is everything in these films and Liam Neeson is both old enough and young enough to be convincing as an aging government agent with the two fisted skills and cat-like reflexes of Jason Bourne. Moreover, Neeson is damn likable which makes anyone who doesn't treat him respectfully in the film seem to deserve the bone crunching attack they receive. Even Famke Janssen, who plays Neeson's disapproving ex-wife, seems to deserve to be punched in the solar plexis for giving this cool dad a hard time. So what if he didn't have all the time in the world to spend with his little girl? The cats in the cradle Harry Chapin, daddy was busy keeping the world from blowing up. Give a guy some slack already!

If you've seen the trailer, you know the plot. If you haven't, it boils down to this: White slavery organization kidnaps a pair of naive teenage girls on their first trip to Europe not knowing that one of them (Maggie Grace) is the daughter of a retired James Bond who lets them know in no uncertain terms that if they don't let his daughter go, he will find them and when he does, he will kill them. Quite honestly, this set up is so full of clarity that there's no way anyone can watch the trailer and not think that they will at least catch some of this when it hits HBO. Besson and Kamen do not come up with anything new here but that's because they know no one has come to see an art flick. Director Pierre Morel shoots the action directly without any kind of post John Woo or Sam Peckinpah fussiness. Sure, the editing is fast but not as fast as it was in the frenetic Quantum of Solace-I could still figure out where the good guys and the bad guys were. These three men know how to play the genre game like old pros and deliver the hard edged action that their audience came to see. This is not a movie about moral dilemmas-it's about a father who will rip out your eyeballs if you don't give him his daughter back. Maybe Neeson's Bryan Mills will feel sorry later and confess his sins to a Priest or bartender but thank God it's not in this movie-the end credits roll without mercy. Enjoy this one with some popcorn and don't worry about the poor drug addicted girl Neeson leaves in a cheap hotel room on an IV drip. Besson and Kamen didn't.


GrossedOUT said...

Uh yeah, and the innocent woman that he shoots. Hmm, do you think he would have shot someone's daughter to get his wife back?

Brian said...

Yeah, I think he would've done whatever he had to do to get his daughter back and the audience would be made to believe it was justified. TAKEN is a Charles Bronson flick with a very paranoid view of the world.

Anonymous said...

I had to come back & read this review again after watching Taken for the 3rd time. This review cracks me up for some reason, but it's spot on!