Reviewed by: Ethan Samuel Rodgers
|Featuring||Liam Neeson, Maggie Grace, Famke Janssen, Xander Berkeley, Katie Cassidy, See all »|
|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.”
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.