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Movie Review

Taken a.k.a. “Búsqueda implacable,” “Busca Implacável,” “96 Hours,” “96 saat,” “96 sati,” “Io vi troverò,” “Venganza”

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of violence, disturbing thematic material, sexual content, some drug references and language.

Reviewed by: Ethan Samuel Rodgers
CONTRIBUTOR

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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Adults, Teens
Genre:
Action Crime Thriller Drama
Length:
1 hr. 34 min.
Year of Release:
2009
USA Release:
January 30, 2009 (wide)
DVD: May 12, 2009
Copyright, Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation

About murder in the Bible

death

prostitution

NUDITY—Why are humans supposed to wear clothes? Answer

virgin

anger in the Bible

VIOLENCE—How does viewing violence in movies affect families? Answer

Featuring: Liam Neeson, Maggie Grace, Famke Janssen, Xander Berkeley, Katie Cassidy, more »
Director: Pierre Morel—cinematographer for “The Transporter,” “Unleashed”
Producer: Europa Corp., M6 Films, Grive Productions, Luc Besson, Didier Hoarau, Pierre-Ange Le Pogam, Michael Mandaville, India Osborne
Distributor: Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation

“His daughter was taken. He has 96 hours to get her back.”

Sequels to this movie: “Taken 2” (2012), “Taken 3” (2015)

Note to Director Pierre Morel: the edge of my seat is thoroughly worn out. Intense does not begin to describe the 90 minutes I just spent with Mr. Liam Neeson.

Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) is a retired operative for the United States government. Divorced and single, his emotion revolves around the well being of his daughter, Kimmie (Maggie Grace), who, although she has love for her paternal father, has gotten caught up in the rich lifestyle given to her by her stepfather and maternal mother. When Kimmie is given the opportunity to travel to Paris with a friend she quickly becomes enthralled with the idea of being in France, in the real world, on her own. Hesitantly, Mills allows his 17 year old daughter to travel far from his net of security.

Quickly, the two girls’ naiveté is exploited, and they are taken advantage of and kidnapped, leaving everyone who called Mills “overcautious” and “uncaring” with him as their only hope to return Kimmie back. With his daughter’s life in the hands of the Albanian Human Trafficking trade, Mills claims vengeance in the bone shivering line “I don’t know who you are, I don’t know what you want, but I must let you know, I have a unique set of skills which I have acquired over many years, skills that make me a nightmare for men like you. If you let her go, it will be over, I won’t chase you, I won’t look for you. But if you do not, I will look for you, and I will find you… and I will kill you.”

This is not a run of the mill action film, however. When you enter the theater you expect to see outstanding martial arts scenes, car chases, explosions, gun fights, and Liam Neeson generally showing off how much of a man he still is. What really caught my attention was the heart in this film. The attention to “let’s make sure before we send Liam Neeson on a killing spree the audience cares about his daughter and more importantly, him.” The emotional power was there, not like you would expect from an Oscar winning drama, but it’s there, and it’s enough to make you cringe when you think of what Neeson is up against and what will happen to Kimmie should he fail.

And what may be the best part of the film considering its genre is the fact that I bought it. Yes, it’s incredibly unlikely that an ex-military operative would go on a killing spree weeding out corruption in Paris, France to find the only love in his life, but you know what, it’s still possible. There wasn’t one moment where I found myself saying “oh come on” or “you’ve got to be kidding.” On the contrary, I constantly caught myself thinking “that could happen” or even “if it were my daughter or wife I would absolutely do that to save her.”

Of course, you will get all the action and intensity you can handle. The moment Kimmie gets kidnapped is like the moment you enter a long tunnel. You hold your breath as you go in, knowing what you’re getting into, and you don’t let it out or breathe easily until it’s over.

Surprisingly, violence, language and sexual references are all kept in check. Save a few “s**ts” and “a**holes” there’s virtually no language, which was a welcomed surprise. The sex was also greatly kept in check. Considering this film deals with the graphic and intense subject of human trafficking and prostitution there was very little sexual content. Obviously there were girls shown in prostitution houses, but no skin or nudity to speak of; nor was anyone shown “in the act” as they say, and there was only one (yes, one) sexual joke early on in the film.

The only concern parents may have is the intense scenes of violence. There are multiple scenes of Neeson killing men in many different ways (one is hit by a truck, another he tortures with electricity; another man drives his car into the front of a bulldozer, etc). None of it, however, is gratuitous or unnecessary. There’s very little blood or gore, mostly scenes of Neeson using hand to hand combat to take out opponents.

For what it’s worth, this might be my favorite action film this Oscar® year. It’s difficult to find a film that involves explosions, gun fire and high octane stunts that remembers we need to care about the characters we’re watching, and, on top of it all, keeps it generally within the realm of possibility. But I really do believe “Taken” has accomplished that feat. It also accomplished the feat of scaring me out of ever letting my wife or children ever stray from my sight in Europe. Whether that’s a good thing to take away is yet to be seen, but as Bryan Mills taught me, you can’t be too cautious.

Violence: Heavy / Profanity: Minor / Sex/Nudity: Minor

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.


Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive
Positive—The film Taken, along with its no-compromise hero, is a breath of fresh air in a day when politicians are so concerned about the “rights” of evil men (example: Guantanamo Bay prisoners), that they are endangering the lives of innocent people in the process of giving these men their so-called rights.

In seeing how far the hero is willing to go to rescue his daughter from a life of prostitution, believe it or not, I was reminded of certain passages from the Bible where we find out just how far God is willing to go to rescue us from ourselves and from the “sin that so easily entangles.”

In secular movies, a Christian should always expect to encounter elements that he or she may find uncomfortable: harsh violence, harsh language, etc. Still, even movies made by fallible human beings can surprise us with glimpses of God’s Truth, however imperfect those reflections might be.

All that to say this. I don’t care whether “Taken” is entirely original or believable in its plot. Mr. Neeson’s character so loves his daughter that he is willing to descend into the deepest hell to bring her back to him. No compromise. No “let’s sit down face-to-face with the villains and talk it over” bologna. He will get her back.

“Nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

The whole family was inspired by this film!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—John Stanifer, age 23 (USA)
Positive—This is not a fun film, in any sense of the word. But it is very much a good film. After reading the review, I decided to go see this movie. It is a cold dose of reality that a lot of parents and teens need.

Liam’s character is what most people would call the over protective parent. But where Hollywood normally criticizes this type of person (“Cheaper By the Dozen 2” for instance), this film shows that his fears and concerns were justified. His daughter travels to Paris alone and is kidnapped and sold into a prostitution ring. The movie then follow’s Liam as he attempts to track her down and rescue her.

Aside from being a great action movie, this film really brought home the dangers of “experiencing the real world.” So many kids want to get out of their home and do their own thing, without knowing anything about the dangers of evil people. This shows such a situation gone bad. Fortunately, Liam’s character is a great inspiration to fathers and brothers to protect those they care about. Although I wouldn’t recommend people going out and ruthlessly hunting down others and killing them, I can definitely see a father doing that in such a situation.

The one thing that really tugged at my heart during the movie was that there were only two people Liam was able to save out of this sex-slave industry. Many others that were shown were unable to escape, due to the sheer number of people involved. It was really a tragic picture.

Overall, a very good movie. There was some profanity, a lot of violence, and a scene where two girls were shown in bikinis. But other than that, a great film.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Jonathan Glass, age 23 (USA)
PositiveLiam Neeson returns to his role as the dispassionate “League of Shadows” bigwig Henri DuCard in this Chev Chelios meets Jason Bourne action palooza. All the frenzy and indestructibility of the former. All the glam and international brouhaha of the latter. Well, not exactly Ducard, just figuratively speaking. In “Taken,” Neeson’s character is the bad man his former and indirectly aforementioned protegé Bruce Wayne should have always been: unabashedly ruthless to a fault. Yep. Ol' Bruce never veers off the deep end. Never has. He devotedly takes the moral high ground to an all time high. And while “The Dark Knight” did show the world just how unconventional Batsy can be when extorting/punishing the criminal underworld, at Wayne’s core is a heart of gold; he follows the rules. Henri Ducard breaks the rules.

It was my brutha who insisted I pay homage to Neeson’s thriller. Skeptical, I mentioned how I’ve grown tired of these European tour de forces. They all feel like the same hodge-podge chase serial with their short stubby cars, weird police sirens, and rows of never-ending 3-story apts. Now, I didn’t succumb to seeing “Taken” at the good brutha’s behest; rather, Dad was set on it, and for 6 bucks, I figured what the hey? While “Taken” does lose itself with some ludicrously fortuitous martial arts frenzy, especially for a man in his mid-fifties, it does score well on its merits of cold justice. Sometimes people just need a good ol' fashioned butt whipping.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Jacob Keenum, age 22 (USA)
Positive—I disagree with there being no nudity mentioned. The review, in general, was great, but there was a nude view from the back during the sex slave auction, and this content seems only appropriate for the discerning viewer. The message was good, but is portrayed in a way that is not appropriate for high school or younger. The lack of dress can be very suggestive for the male viewer.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Lisa, age 28 (USA)
Positive—This movie may not to be everyone’s liking due to the violence… however, I am a mother of six daughters, and they have been brought up in a somewhat protective environment and sometimes don’t realize all the evil that is out there. Trafficking women is not uncommon in Europe and many countries around the world. Since they’ve heard it from me—about the dangers in the world in which we live, it’s good they could hear it from this Hollywood movie. My daughters are attractive, and they need to know about these things and see that we need to be “wise as serpents and harmless as doves.” You can never be too cautious, and to be forewarned is to be forearmed—by knowing the truth and not allowing yourself to be influenced negatively by a friend’s wrong decision. And deceit will only get you into trouble no matter how right you think you are.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Janis, age 56 (Guatemala)
Positive—Wow, truly an “edge of your seat” type of movie for me. Just a bit of information for everyone; at the beginning of the movie, Liam Neeson and has friends were talking about being in Langley which is where the CIA has it’s headquarters. So even though they don’t specify, he was probably a CIA agent.

Anyhow, this is a great film to show any teenager who is at the age of wanting to go out into the world on their own. (usually 16 when they get their license) Most parents who worry and restrict their children from going places do so because they recognize the evil that is in the world, and it is a parent’s job to protect them. What teenagers don’t understand is even though they didn’t go anywhere or do anything “bad,” not getting home on time or calling home when they are supposed to drives parents to believe the worst. Perhaps this movie can demonstrate to them one of the real-life things that happens to young teens and even young adults.

As a Christian, I do look at the fact the character played by Liam Neeson showed no mercy to those responsible for taking his daughter, but where does one draw the line? Do I risk not accomplishing my mission to save my daughter? These are questions similar to what we all face during our lives. Some decisions we may encounter are difficult to know what is the right action to take. Would it be right for Liam’s character to abandon his daughter if he decided not to kill others who were trafficing young girls and killing them? This is why we must pray to ask God for wisdom and forgiveness.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 3
—Troy Mendez, age 33 (USA)
Positive—To all the positive comments displayed here, I can only agree. The moral rating is “average,” only because the VERY positive aspects must be balanced against the dark, dark tone and subject matter, some disturbing images of enslaved young women, and the fact that the protagonist went clearly too far once, and possibly too far another time, in pursuit of saving his daughter. Having said that, it was wonderful to see a movie in which the father was the unabashed good guy who rescues his daughter, the Americans were the only good guys in the movie, and the bad guys were French, Albanian, and Muslim. Finally, a little counterbalance to the endless America-bashing!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Jeremy Klein, age 53 (USA)
Positive—Best movie I’ve seen in a long time—and equal comments from my seventeen year old son and 45 yr. old brother who were with me—in fact I know that my wife and daughter would love this movie also (they’re planning on seeing it today).

You are engaged throughout the movie, it is slick, Liam plays a professional that is very believable in his heroic feats—a no-nonsense, get the job done efficiently and professionally (i.e., he’s well trained and experienced in what he’s doing). The movie has emotional grip for anyone who has children or parents—all of us. And the fact that in dealing with an infuriating subject matter, the film doesn’t have inappropriate content was amazing—I mean, you don’t want to take your 10 and under kids, it was an excellent movie-going experience, without disappointment.

If you liked the movie Mel Gibson was in with a son abducted, “Ransom” you’ll love this move. Just great! Moves the heart to help if we ever could with the awful reality of young women abducted for the horrific sex-trafficing nightmare—what a blight on our world and deepest shame on the men who fuel such atrocities on either end of the enterprise.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Bob, age 47 (USA)
Positive—I forgot I was in a movie theater 10 minuets in. Trust me, it grabs you and doesn’t let go. Very, very entertaining. One capital thing to know before going to see this movie is that it is about sex trafficing. Without going into detail the producers of this movie have done an excellent job at showing how relevent this sick, sad and true problem exists. I would recomend this film to pretty much everyone who is living in this world… for saftey reasons. Being told my mom and dad to be careful is not enough. It needs to be seen because this is significantly relevent in today’s society. The producers/ directors have definately toned the true graphic nature of sex trafficing, down from a ten to about a two or one. It can sometimes be hard to see, but the eye opening benefits it has is tremendous. Adults can talk to their teenagers and teenagers will be able to talk to their parents in a sufficent manner about the dangers surrounding sex today, hopefully and thankfully from this movie.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Luke, age 19 (USA)
Positive—For the very first time ever on this site, I think the positive reviewers are not taking the content in this film seriously enough. Let me reiterate what has already been said: It’s. About. Human. Trafficking. And yet many of the Christians on this page are not concerned about this. What they ARE concerned about is: 'How much actual nudity and sex does it show?'

It doesn’t matter!--what matters is the context! I have seen sex in R-rated and even NC-17 movies that is a lot more clean than what is shown in this movie, simply for the fact that it’s within the bounds of a healthy relationship that most decidedly does not involve drugging women and forcing them to sell their bodies. Although this movie shows no sex, it does show dozens of young women who are being forced into a lifetime of constant rape. And yet we leave the theater relieved that we only get shown the “clean” side.

This is the problem with the Christian attitude towards films. We become too legalistic and think: “Rampant sensuality is permissible as long as there’s no breasts.” Or: “Brutal violence is a-okay, as long as there’s no blood and gore.” Or: “Constant profanity is fine, as long as the f-word isn’t used.” This is not how it should be. Whether or not the camera pans away, we still know the action happened. Don’t pretend like it’s better because the scene ended, or that it’s worse because it lingered.

I watched one documentary called “This Film is Not Yet Rated” (a must-see for all parents who want to know the real truth about the inconsistencies and hypocrisies of the MPAA). In it, one of the interviewees noted how movies that showed realistic violence got an R-rating, while unrealistic, “clean” violence got a PG-13. He said it should be the other way around: kids should deal with reality, while only adults would be able to handle the fantastical idea that gratuitous violence is clean, bloodless, and essentially without consequence (as it often is in PG-13 films). While that is a rather broad way to put things, it does raise an excellent point for all parents to consider: Why do we let our children see PG-13 films but not R-rated films, when the PG-13 ones are every bit as violent, the only difference being they have no blood in them? Watch “The Dark Knight” (PG-13) and “The Fall” (R) back-to-back and tell me which one is truly more violent.

That all being said, I just want to stress that loved “Taken.” None of my diatribe was meant in any way to take away from my praise for this film. It is a gripping thriller with a father-daughter element that is developed so effectively in the first fifteen minutes that it lasts throughout the next 75 minutes of straight action. In fact, it only builds, as does the energy of the overall piece. While some people have made complaints that Liam Neeson’s character caused too much violence, particularly against Jean-Claude’s wife, deep down every single father (and every male expecting to become a father at any point in his life) wishes they had that much dedication to their kids.

The action is great. Not as good as, say, the Bourne series, but far better than “Quantum of Solace” and well above average as action films go. At 90 minutes and a short denouement, this film never overstays its welcome, and thus it’s an easy one to watch and rewatch.

Just keep in mind the mature content. The violence is relentless, and there is human trafficking in the film. Sure, no blood or sex is shown, but remember what I said: the content doesn’t matter so much as the context, and this is a very mature context to handle. Be ready to have mature discussions with your teens (if your child is not capable of adequate abstract thought, I suggest you leave him/her home).
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Jm, age 19 (USA)
Positive—This is an all-too-true movie highlighting a very serious issue called sex trafficking. For those who chose to condemn the movie because of content I ask the question: knowing the content of the film, why did you watch it in the first place? Americans are insulated and naive when it comes to this type of activity, and I applaud any movie that brings this horrible issue into the public eye. No, it is not a pleasant movie, but its issues we should all be concerned about as Christians. Considering the subject matter, this was really a very tame movie in the sense that it took the high road and showed very little gratuitous sex or nudity. It got the point across without having to resort to a more real and true-to-life depiction. I applaud the film makers for creating such an excellent movie that involves such a deplorable subject matter. A must see for all adults.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Pam, age 54 (USA)
Positive—Many times life is not a cute “G” or “PG” story. Sometimes you have to face the ugly truth. Irish actor, Liam Neeson, has done humankind a great service for being a part of this movie. Christians can not afford to be judgemental about the language and violence of this movie. Its a must see. In fact, every home, should have a copy of this movie. It’s about a very real and threatening problem on a global scale. Its time that Americans become aware of the problem.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—V, age 44 (USA)
Positive—I would like to point out that many of the negative comments are very misleading and extremely exaggerated. “Taken” is a thrill ride in the vein of “Mission Impossible: III” or “Live Free or Die Hard.” However, unlike these films, it is not political. It combines elements of suspense with action that would make James Bond, Jason Bourne, and Jack Bauer jealous. Many of the negative comments stem from the violence in the movie, and while it is intense, it is not graphic. The only “graphic” and disturbing scene is when Bryan Mills tortures a prisoner with electricity to get information about his daughter’s kidnapping and then kills him. Most of the other killings are done in self-defense or to defend others. Yes, there is language, but it is very minor and not excessive. As for the whore house scenes, there is no nudity that is shown, but most of the girls are drugged and scantily dressed.

One complaint above was Mills' daughter is with a friend who wants to have sex with a stranger. I want to point out that this is discouraged in the film, not encouraged. Please note that this movie is not for children or for the whole family. It does contain many violent scenes that are fast paced. I would recommend it for mature teens or adults. If anything, it teaches to be careful and not to just trust anyone. Never talk to strange men, and never lose sight of the one you love. In the end, it was the younger Mills virginity, her father’s love for her, and the unwillingness to negotiate with evil that gave this movie it’s exciting climatic ending.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
Jacob Airey, age 20 (USA)
Positive—I thought that this movie was very well played out. I believe it to be a must see for all teenage girls. I come from a small town where girls tend to think that this could never happen just because they aren’t familiar with it. It does happen, and young girls need to know. I found the way the girl left the phone going with her father and when she was taken, started yelling out descriptions of her takers very smart. It is a good mother/daughter movie. Just because you live somewhere small doesn’t mean it can’t happen. A good movie to have protection talks. There are kidnappers and rapers all over the world. This movie teaches young women how important it is to remain safe, and when giving parental freedom, to use it wise. I think this movie is a must see.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 3
—Bailey Rexwinkle, age 19 (USA)
Negative
Negative—I saw the movie with my twin 13 year old boys. They are huge fans of Liam Neeson from Star Wars fame, so they were very interested in seeing this movie.

In preparation, we went to the Christian Spotlight to get an idea of what to expect, and felt we were primed for an exceptional movie… all positive reviews, no negatives.

Well, there are a lot of elements that work for this film, but there are also strong negatives! It seems we Christians continually give ground to the other side, and the middle ground is continually resetting further and further away from Biblical ideals.

Interestingly enough, even though I was not happy with an under-age 17 year old’s best friend being 19 and obviously more mature… and the lies that were told to get the father to sign off on allowing the 17 year old to go overseas without a guardian… and the first thing that happens is the 19 year old saying she is going to have sex with a boy she just met on the street… and suggesting the 17 year old should find someone too… and things have not even warmed up yet!!!

Please let me digress for a moment. The worst part of the movie experience was the AWFUL previews before the movie started. Regal Entertainment is becoming progressively more salacious with their previews. One trailer actually showed a deep homosexual kiss between two men, and the entire audience took a large gasp for air!!! Several years back I wrote a letter to Regal complaining about their previews, and they responded with a nice form letter containing two free tickets. Sadly, Regal has gone from merely deplorable to verging on debauchery.

Shifting back to the movie… Recognizing the setting and premise of the movie, the offenses could have been much worse. However, my principal concern involves kids being desensitized to violence. Because of Mr. Neeson’s connection with kids (Star Wars), the theater was full of middle-school kids, and the graphic nature of carnage was very reminiscent of video game killing without consequences. I actually heard kids laughing during some of the more gruesome and violent scenes!

Bottom line: I walked out of the movie with a very uneasy feeling. Here was a movie that could actually have a very effective message… “Parents, don’t let your kids travel without a fulltime guardian”! However, I would strongly caution allowing younger kids to see this movie, and those that do should talk through the messaging afterwards.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Marshall, age 47 (USA)
Negative—If you are planning to see this movie, and you have a Christian worldview, then you should be aware of the following things I did not see in any other reviews. Although there is no complete nudity, there are several series of scenes where the father is looking for his daugther in whore houses and goes through room after room of young girls in compromising situations and clothing is scarce. At one point you see young girls dressed in barely-there undergarments being auctioned off to the highest bidder. This is not a mild glance at sexual slave trafficing/trading. It goes deep into the act and motives of this kind of prostitution. The violence is steady and severe, and the language is throughout. I would not under any circumstances take a teenager to see this film.

We love a good action movie, but the underlying themes and recurring close up on sexual exploitation far outweighs the violence sequences for a reason not to pay to see this film. We left feeling disturbed, unsettled, and ill-informed about the overall content. I can see the argument for shedding light on a very serious problem regarding the exploitation of women around the world… but when did this material go from being something for a “20/20” documentary to Friday night entertainment?
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Drew, age 29 (USA)
Negative—I have to agree with the other reviewer. This is a very graphic movie about slavery and prostitution. That is the whole premise of the movie. It is extremely graphic and you don’t just dabble in it. Our family’s spirit was very uneasy watching it as long as we could hoping the movie would just get on with it. Many many people were killed, overdoses, rooms filled with girls drugged up, clothes barely covering themselves, laying on beds waiting for the next man (who by the way were all waiting outside in lines). It was heart wrenching. We finally turned it off. We only watched it because of the positive reviews it had on this site. I am extremely disappointed that some said it is okay to watch. Whatever is true, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is admirable if anything is excellent or praiseworthy think of these things.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Brenda, age parent (USA)
Negative—Takes the Lord’s name in vain (the highly offensive G-D variety). That should be enough not to see any movie regardless of the noble issues and movie making quality.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Jay, age 35 (Canada)
Negative—At first, I thought this movie was amazing—great acting, little language, lots of suspense. But then scenes are shown with girls wearing nothing but strings… not much more than naked. If you are looking to guard your mind, stay away from this movie.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Alli, age 19 (USA)
Comments from young people
Positive—This is an well-made intense movie. Liam plays his part well, the plot is good, the action is well made, and the entire film is very exciting. The ending two scenes of the film were a touch off, not quite perfect, but still pretty good. Go see it in theaters, you’ll walk away impressed. And, of course, don’t bring little kids.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Andrew Benson, age 17 (USA)
Positive—I really liked this movie, not because I went away with a fuzzy warm happy feeling. I liked it because it presented a truth Americans turn a blind eye to. (Relatively mildly) I think every teenage girl should see this movie. And the father’s love did remind me of our Father’s love! Three quarters of the movie was him literally fighting his way to get to her—because he loved her!

Again, I think this movie should be seen by every teenage girl and woman.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Emily, age 17 (USA)
Positive—This movie was excellent. Liam Neeson did an amazing job. But what made this movie fantastic is the fact that Bryan the main character is an older man in his 50’s. This movie doesn’t use too much language few uses of s--t are used and the villains calling him an a--, and they use God’s name in vain a few times. It’s amazing what he goes through to save his daughter from prostitution, just like what God goes through to save us from sin.

Overall, a very well put together movie, fantastic acting, and an amazing story all made it worth the 8 dollars it costs to get into the theatre. I will suggest this movie is not seen by really jumpy people or kids under the age of 13.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Justin, age 14 (Canada)
Positive—Wow! This was an incredible movie! It totally gives me a different mindset on everyday incidents in everyday life. There wasn’t one part that you would think, “Wow. No one would ever do that.” It was great!

--->BUT<---

I DIDNT like the cursing. There was way too much. WAY too much. I wasn’t expecting all of it. But since I loved the movie so much, I’m going to look into getting a curse-free TV (you can get them from Lifeway!) so I can watch it again and again!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Elizabeth, age 16 (USA)
Negative—At one point in this film, a villain tells Bryan Mills “You can’t get you’re daughter back just by tearing up Paris.”

Wanna bet!?!

Taken is to violence what Hershey is to chocolate.

I’ll say what is bad about this movie first (let me warn you: it’s a lot).

The protagonist, if I should call Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) that, is trying to retrieve his daughter who has been kidnapped and is being forced into prostitution. He sets out to find the killers in much the same manner as Arnold Schwartzenegger in Commando (minus the girlfriend). Like the Governator, this involves killing people in practically every way possible. However, unlike Arnold in Commando, Mills doesn’t just kill bad guys. He threatens, injures, fights, and endangers the lives of innocent civilians. He smashes his cars through busy streets and occupied road blocks, he tortures a man’s unsuspecting wife to make the man talk, he beats up a bunch of associates (not members) of the mob, and when people other than his daughter are in danger, he pretty much ignores them.

Then, when it comes to bad guys, its not enough to kill them. He slowly tortures them to death—not for information, but all in cold blooded revenge. He repeatedly shoots people’s limbs one by one, and at one point he slowly electrocutes a man away as the victim begs and pleads for mercy.

Mills cares about his daughter, but unlike the stars of Punisher or Commando, he is not even remotely a hero. He only cares about his daughter, and as far as he cares the world can go to hell.

Additionally, I must mention that the action in this very short film is difficult to see, as the images are blurred, only in close-ups, or so obscured by the night that it’s hard to follow along. Effectively, Taken is a how-not in cinematography.

That is what I don’t like about “Taken.”

The film is not completely bad, though. Mills is a father figure, and he understands the importance of family. It depicts what seem foolish and nasty teens, including a pop star, in a sympathetic light, and comes out kind of sweet in that aspect (a contrast to every other element of the film).

Noteworthy as well is Liam Neeson’s very moving roll as Mills, which provides surprising depth.

Also, while not entirely realistic, Taken does portray the mafia and its influence just as it is—a large gang of violent, brutal, ruthless, evil thugs. For this I congratulate writers Luc Besson and Robet Mark Kamen, as well as French Director Pierre Morel (despite being in English and featuring an American character, the film is French).

I don’t congratulate them on pretty much everything else. PG-13 (sort of), 91 minutes. Violence: Extreme Language: Moderate Sex/Nudity: Moderate Drugs: Moderate
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 2
—Timothy, age 14 (USA)
Negative—My brother was very interested in seeing “Taken,” so we rented it a few days ago. It represents an interesting conundrum for me in that it’s a movie I simultaneously liked and disliked. It was generally an interesting, if illogical, movie, and I really felt for the struggle of Liam Neeson’s character to get his daughter back. There’s this suggestion that his daughter is all he has left, and he’d do anything to be with her. And for about the first hour or so, the movie was quite good.

But towards the end, I found myself getting increasingly unsettled. I was still on the edge of my seat, still engrossed, but by the end of the movie, I simply didn’t like it for some reason. Having thought about it, I think I understand the reasons why.

For starters, the message of sex trafficking is one we all need to hear. Honestly, we need to be slapped in the face with it, because most of us have no clue how prevalent and horrible it actually is. However…I’m not convinced an action movie is the appropriate medium for that. With an action movie, I really just want to check my brains at the door and see a cool, likable character blow some stuff up. It’s really hard to have fun, though, when you’re constantly seeing a stark, realistic portrayal of sex trafficking. It led to an odd sort of dissonance. If the filmmakers wanted to make an action movie, they should’ve found a different subject. If they’d wanted to give a message about trafficking (again—a message we all need to hear), they should’ve made a documentary, or at least a drama, because an action movie just serves to soften the blow.

The second major problem with the film that made it hard for me to like it was that it was just as hard for me to like Neeson’s character. I understand the whole “papa bear” thing, but this guy was just a bit too ruthless. On at least two occasions, he killed kidnappers in cold blood, for no reason other than revenge. With me, it never seems to matter how horrible a crime they’ve committed (in this case, very horrible). He’d already gotten the information he needed out of them, and he should have left them in the hands of the law. However, the most disturbing scene for me was one in which he shot an innocent woman in the arm to squeeze information out of her husband. That was absolutely unnecessary, and from that moment onward, the character just couldn’t cultivate any likability for me. The movie followed suit.

CONTENT—The subject of the movie is sex trafficking. We see a number of scenes where drugged, disoriented women are lying, sometimes handcuffed, in beds waiting for their next “client.” We are never shown nudity, but the image is intense. We also see an auction with scantily clad women. However, while this content is intense and not, ABSOLUTELY NOT, for children, I wouldn’t call it “offensive.” The whole point of the sexuality is to expose a horrible practice of inflicting suffering on women that is actually going on in the world right now. This sort of sex is not portrayed in a stimulating or positive way; it is made to look ugly and horrible. The movie is trying to make a point, not throw some needless sex at the viewer.

What is offensive is the language, which ranges from not one but several uses of sh-t and milder profanities, not to mention abuses of God’s name. And of course, there are all the needlessly violent acts performed by the main character in his quest to save his daughter.

I’ll say it again—this is not a movie for kids. In fact, this is one of those movies like “The Dark Knight” where I’ll say that, even though it’s PG-13, it swings dangerously close to R and probably isn’t appropriate for your average 13-year-old. It can probably be viewed by the 15 and up crowd, but again, both for the subpar quality of the film and the intense thematic material, I still don’t recommend it. However, if you do watch it, make sure you use it as a way to consider and pray about sex trafficking and what you can do to help stop it.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 2½
—Matt Triponey, age 17 (USA)
Positive—Taken is violent. Taken is harsh. Taken is more serious than most summer action movies. Taken is a good movie because the bad guys get everything the deserve, and the good guy wins. Yes, Bryan is like a one man army, storming through the underworld of Paris, leaving behind corpses of men who are better off dead than alive, to themselves and those around them. Some would question his unrelenting violence, and just now the scene of Mel Gibson with his hatchet (from “The Patriot”) comes to mind. I don’t think either man’s violence can be completely condoned, especially not the latter’s, but really, Bryan comes as close to righteous anger that I’ve seen in cinema for a very long time. Men who torture and objectify girls and women for a profit deserve more than what Mills gives them, so his sometimes cruel measures all of a sudden don’t feel so cruel. We need to ask ourselves what we would do in Mills' place, and realize that most of us would do the same thing.

The bad guys in “Taken” are the kind of men who are unashamed and brazen about their sins. Mills is fighting for the life of his daughter, and, in my opinion, he has every right to kill those who were harming her.

Now that the philosophy is covered, we are left with the objectionable stuff. Sex is actually a little worse than the reviewer made it sound, and is the primary reason for my “offensive” rating. There are two main scenes to watch out for. The first is when Mills encounters a brothel of sorts at construction site, where men pay to have sex with drugged girls, many of whom are unconscious. The scene is more disgusting than it is sexual, and the makers did a good job making it as tasteful as possible.

The second scene is toward the end of the move, when we see Kim and another girl in an auction. Kim is dressed in an underwear and bra (though the camera mainly focuses on her feet and face) and the other girl is dressed in a thong, so her rear is visible for half a second. Again the scene seems a lot more cruel and disgusting than it is sexual, but now I know that those two words can sometimes go together.

There are a few other instances, of sexual content, mostly in conversations, but it’s pretty minor.

Violence is strong here, about as much than the Bourne movies. Shootings, beatings, smashings, and crashings all get a lot of screen time out of the ninety minutes. A man is decapitated when he runs his car into the shovel of a bulldozer. Mills shock-tortures a trafficker to get information, and then leaves the electricity running when he walks out (we hear the man’s painful screams). Blood doesn’t get much screen time, but it doesn’t need to. All the smashed throat, broken necks, gunshots are violent enough.

Language is here too, but less than the Bourne movies. So if you’ve seen those, language won’t keep you from seeing this one either. It is important to note that Kim is unbearably giggly and squeaky. That’s the hardest thing about the movie for me.

On an artistic level, everything in this movie shines except for the plot. Okay, I admit, the plot isn’t all that imaginative, but it makes for a fun action movie. The raid-fire shot angles were good, and matched the movie’s tone all the way. The cinematography is better than Bourne’s three movies, and underrated in my humble opinion. Liam Neeson provided a convincing role as Kim’s protective father, and he really does look like he wants to kill bad guys. The music is good too.

If you’ve seen the Bourne movies or the James Bond movies (I haven’t seen the latter), than you won’t have as much language or sex. Maybe more violence.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Joseph Hughey, age 16 (USA)