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Taken(2008)
Written by: The Arrow
Director: Pierre Morel

Starring:
Liam Neeson/Bryan
Maggie Grace/Kim
Famke Janssen/Lenore
7 10
PLOT-CRUNCH
While on vacation in Paris, a tween gal (Grace) is kidnapped by pimping scumbags and then “rented” out. One thing the dumb-dumbs behind the coup didn’t anticipate though was that her dad is an ex spy and he’s played by Liam f*cking Neeson. You know what that means! Lots of whooped chumps – Neeson style!
THE LOWDOWN

I will look for you, I will find you and I will kill you. - Bryan

When I first saw the TAKEN teaser trailer with the “I will find you” monologue spat out by the great Liam Neeson, it was crystal clear to me from the get-go that it would be an Arrow Approved celluloid ride. It had my name written all over it! I recently got a shot at wrestling this mofo to the ground and making him mutter “uncle” and although not all that I thought it could’ve been, I still had a freaking blast with it!

Co-written by “macho man action king” Luc Besson; TAKEN was more in line with say the Besson penned KISS OF THE DRAGON than his masterpiece THE PROFESSIONAL. Any fat this flick could’ve had/used to have was kicked to the curb in favor of putting out a quick paced, Peyton Westlake cracks skulls and f*ck-starts heads shindig of fun. Straight up, once the relationships and initial premise established (in an affecting manner at that; the father/daughter thing so sold me) the gloves were ripped off and TAKEN started swinging.

All Qui-Gon Jinn did for an hour or so was go from place to place, f*ck dudes up, get info, which sent him to new locations where he would… you guessed it… bitch-slap more goons to get further info… and so forth. Think the A to B to C narrative structure of your usual revenge movie and you’ll get an idea of how this one worked. Thankfully, the varied spices within the action sequences (hand to hand, gunplay, stunts, torture) made sure that the two tricks pony nature of the narrative never got old. I could’ve watched Michael Collins show off his "people skills" for days man!

With that snapped, all of the candy wouldn’t have tasted half as sweet if the film’s hero wasn’t one I could root for. Neeson’s captivating performance as the loving and no-non-sense daddy-spy hit the spot. I so dug how he was always in control and ahead of the game. Shit, even while his daughter was getting bagged, the lad was two steps ahead. You got to respect that! It made for a cool hero trait. The undisputable fact that you can‘t get much cooler than Rob Roy throwing down and talking out the trash, helped as well. Add to all that a razor pace, frenetic editing that jacked up the restless vibe of the situation, a couple of hard hitting emotional scenes (the kidnapping had me) and some great bits of dialogue and you get simple flick that got the job done!

Alas, striving for such a furious pace came with a price: the potential depth the film could’ve had. Once Kinsey switched on, all of the secondary characters dropped out of the movie. The worried mother, the daughter’s POV as to her ordeal – NATHING on them. Just Henri Ducard kicking ass. The flick would’ve been stronger as whole if it would’ve capitalized on the emotional hand grenades that this kind of situation would’ve detonated, but hey, it wasn’t its M.O. – so be it. Lastly, some of the hand to hand fights were cut a litte too tight and close for my liking. Why American editors keep splicing fisticuffs so we don’t see squat is still beyond me.

By and large, TAKEN shamelessly entertained this simpleton for an hour and half. No frills, no pretenses, just Liam Neeson mowing through human trash to get his daughter back. Nothing wrong with that! Give me a SEQUELLLLLL!

GORE
If brutality, deadly karate chops to the throat, a home made electric chair, rods stabbed in knees and mucho bullet wounds talk to ya – you’ll be well stroked here.
ACTING
Liam Neeson has presence and acting chops to burn period. Hence he owned hard as the loving dada who happens to be a deadly assassin. LOVE THAT DUDE! Maggie Grace (Kim) nailed her part! Her tender scenes with Neeson and her scared shitless bits when getting napped hit hard. Famke Janssen (Lenore) didn’t have much of a role (so obvious her subplot wound up on the cutting room floor), but she played “bitch” very well.
T & A
Tween girls, drugged up and banged… nothing arousing here – somewhat disturbing on the other back-hand? YES!
DIRECTING
Director Pierre Koral was of the Paul Greengrass/Bourne Supremacy school of directing. Lots of hand-held shakiness for better (as it echoed the stress of the situation) and for worse (sometimes I couldn’t see what was happening).
SOUNDTRACK
A well put together score that fit both the film’s action and emotional bill.
BOTTOM LINE
Ask yourself this question: Would witnessing Liam Neeson pummel suckers into Apple Sauce for an hour or so appeal to me? If you answer YES then TAKEN is right up your alley, cause once the set up out of the way, that’s what it was all about. Sure the affair could’ve fleshed out and capitalized on its characters/subplots further – would’ve turned it into a fuller film, but hey; it just wanted to be a straight action flick –hard for me to look down on it for that.
BULL'S EYE
Pierre Morel also helmed the actioner District 13.

The Messenger was the last US flick Luc Besson directed.

VISIT THE TAKEN OFFICIAL SITE HERE