Taken
review by Neo






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Year: 2008

Box Office: US$144,577,850

Director: Pierre Morel

Producer: Luc Besson

Writer: Luc Besson, Robert Mark Kamen

Starring: Liam Neeson, Famke Janssen, Maggie Grace, Xander Berkeley, Holly Valance, Katie Cassidy

Genre: Thriller/Action

Tagline: An efficient Hollywood revenge formula that works…

Review by Neo: Liam Neeson is easily one of the most underrated actors in Hollywood. In a quick flash back, he was memorable as the stoic yet philosophical in the Star Wars Prequels and equally mysteriously cunning in Batman Begins. Apart from his nominated work by the Academy in Schindler's List, Liam has hardly been recognised by his industry. In Taken, Liam manages to engage the audience despite the simple and typical plotline by French inspiration Luc Besson of a tale of revenge and rescue in the city of gloom and doom Paris. Paris is an interesting setting and despite being stereotyped by Luc Bessonís zillions of other films, it remains a juxtaposition of a city. Without a trace, Paris is definitely romantic, beautiful, but at the same time, one would easily instil a world of drugs, prostitution and anything that is ugly about the world today. At the end of the day, it is safe to say that a tale of a father chasing after the kidnappers is clichť yet thrilling, unoriginal, yet interesting and extremely efficient thriller to say the least.

The story goes like this: Liam Neeson plays a former CIA agent and one day his daughter (Maggie Grace) is kidnapped while on holiday in Paris. The only trace of evidence is a phone call from his daughter, just the moment before she is taken. So the tale of a father turning the world upside down to find his daughter begins and the journey is certainly worth following, even if the believability of the chase is very much within questionable minds.

As mentioned above, Liam Neeson plays the role of a father, extremely well; his ability to handle the most unbelievable situations during the process of the chase is that of an experienced actor in the works. What made his performance more believable than it should be is that he is ultimately a father at its very core. Imagining myself as a father, where my daughter is taken away, I would do everything in my ability to protect her and even go and save her. As a result, with that mindset, it is easy to believe the actions of a tormented soul. It is rare that Liam is given a juicy role to work with, and here, he showed all the emotional torment in the most respectable manner and while by no means Oscar worthy, it is a display that made the film better than it should be.

Actress Famke Janssen (X-Men: The Last Stand) plays her role competently without being memorable, but then again it may well be due to the limits of the script and the fact that Luc Besson is not looking for a femme fatal in this tale. Still, she is believable enough, without hampering the efficiency of the film. Likewise, Maggie Grace (Jane Austen Book Club) is given little to work with apart from screaming and looking extremely distressed in the emotional torture of being kidnapped in Paris. Perhaps the only part of the film that fails immensely is the lack of chemistry between the father and the daughter. This may have been done purposely or indirectly, as the father is meant to be distant to the daughter, due to his former devotion into his work for the CIA, rather than looking after his family.

There are some memorable scenes, like the electrifying room where, Liam is questioning the suspect, the scene and the moment when the daughter is suddenly taken from under the bed (the only problem here is that this scene appeared in the trailer, donít you just hate it!) and a typical Luc Bessonís car chasing sequence. Like all Bessonís films, the action is well shot, well timed and integral part of the film. There is no doubt that director; Pierre Morel has a great eye for action and the city of Paris. As a former cinematographer in many other Luc Bessonís productions like Jet Liís Unleashed and Strahamís Transporter, Morel is able to portray the ugly side of Paris and it works in the films favour in terms of the filmís direction.

All in all, Taken is an extremely efficient display of a chase, a thrill, a ride and ultimately at its core, a tale of a father who will do anything and everything to get his daughter back. Despite, the similarities to the 24 (TV Series), Taken actually works and thatís good enough for me and probably most genre fans. It is true that the film relied immensely on the good acting from Liam Neeson, but director Pierre Motel should be complimented for creating such a tight and thrilling encounter for the audience to endure. A fine display of merging the boundaries of French and Hollywood filmmaking and as the French saying goes, Luc Besson, you did it again … (Neo 2009)

I rate it 8/10

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