Neeson’s on fire here with one of the best performances of his career, reminding me a lot of Denzel in MAN ON FIRE. Both men are so driven and relentless. It's an absolute pleasure watching him beat the piss out of (and kill) guy after guy (loved the extra bit with Marco in the extended version). Overall the action was spectacular, every detail smooth, rich and breathtakingly vivid on Blu ray. The fighting and car chases were shot at the proper distance for a change, unlike that “in close” crap from the BOURNE films. Director Pierre Morel knows his way around explosive action (he was director of photography for WAR), and with Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen writing, there was no way this film could go wrong.
The story has a pretty straight forward revenge driven plot, and as a result moved along at a splendid pace. The pulse pounding score was very edge of your seat, but there was also a nice sense of humor present to cut the tension when necessary (flipping the guy the finger was classic). The subject matter was dark and hard to watch at times (ie: finding Amanda dead of an overdose). The use of two different visual styles highlighted the transition from the real world into the violent underworld perfectly, much like it shadowed Bryan’s transformation from overprotective dad to relentless killer. That said, I was moved by the unrivaled love he has for his daughter (the singing audition he scored being almost as amazing as the damn rescue).
TAKEN was a near perfect espionage thriller, easily exceeding all my expectations. This was THE sleeper hit of the year for me. Neeson’s portrayal of Ras Al-Gul proved he still has what it takes to bring the pain, and TAKEN renewed this theory ten fold! I find Neeson to be a little underrated in Hollywood these days, but taking on projects like this one is a sure fire way of reclaiming the spotlight. This role was quite different from Liam’s usual work, making me feel a little iffy at first glance. Make no mistake, everything about this flick screams “blockbuster”, making it an unexpected (but extremely welcome) treat. I can’t wait to see what they do with the sequel.
Extended Cut Audio Commentary by Director Pierre Morel, Cinematographer Michel Avramowicz and Car Stunt Supervisor Michel Julienne: This commentary is a little easier to follow if you speak French (yes, it’s in French), but if you have a quick eye you should be OK. I laughed when they joked about the horse sequence being a complete nightmare as the damn thing was part of the party, yet easily spooked by large groups of people.
Extended Cut Audio Commentary by Co-Screenwriter Robert Mark Kamen: Robert provides a very interesting backdrop as to how he and Luc Besson began their fifteen years of film writing together. It’s also cool to hear the premise for the film was derived from a story they’d heard from a French cop who took down a ring of criminals auctioning off girls.
Black Ops Field Manual: This cool feature puts a score board at the top/middle of the screen (as the movie plays) keeping track of kills, injured, clock counting down from 96 hours and the distance Neeson travels. We also get random Black Ops “pop up” facts as well.
Le Making-of Featurette: Director Pierre Morel was always convinced Neeson fit this character exactly, and that it had to be him or no one. He was also very impressed at how perfect he fell into the role. Neeson admits that being a real life father made it easy to channel the rage.
Avant Premiere Featurette: A look on site at the premiere of TAKEN. It was awesome hearing Neeson refer to this flick as a “hard ass, kick ass” action film.
Inside Action Side-by-Side Scene Comparisons: An in-depth look at the six core action scenes from two separate, simultaneous camera views. Loved watching the Peter dummy get smoked.
Trailers: Four trailers, but none of them are the feature. There’s also a Blu ray commercial.