This 2008 film has just been released this week in the States but it was first released in France on 2/27/08 and in the UK on 9/26/08. What took 20th Century Fox so long to finally release it here? I have no idea. Anyway, this 2008 action thriller is directed by French director Pierre Morel (he directed the criminally unrated District B13 film) and stars Liam Neeson as an ex CIA spy who after years of neglecting his family is divorced and alone. Now retired, he decides to move to the same city his wife (now remarried to a wealthy businessman) and his 17 year old daughter live in order to be closer to her. Hesitant to allow his daughter to vacation to Paris alone with a friend (because she just doesn’t know how the world works!), he relents and things just go downhill from there. She and her friend are targeted by sex traffickers and are taken as Liam Neeson listens to the cries of his daughter over the phone. He has 96 hours to find the sex traffickers, take down Paris, and save his daughter before she becomes just another nameless statistic.
I’m in a fortunate case here. Rarely when we review new movie releases can I review a movie I’ve seen twice. Having the perspective of reviewing a movie I’ve already seen adds to the overall consensus of my analysis, does it still hold up with a second viewing, does it get better or worse and do the problems stand out as much as before or less? Now for months after I first saw this film, I kept saying to Penny, you have to see this film Taken starring Liam Neeson. I don’t know why it doesn’t have an American release date yet but it’s essentially Liam FTW, F the world, and the world loses. Taken is just a rollercoaster of pain, as Liam races through France, karate chopping everyone. I can honestly say, that upon a second viewing, I liked Taken even more than the first time. I mean, after the first 30 minutes, there’s no rest, we as the viewer remain just as out of breath as Liam as he chases one bad guy after another. He doesn’t follow the “shoot first ask questions later” mantra that so many action heroes’ follow, but rather the mantra, shoot while asking the question. “Arm, arm, leg, leg, ready to talk?” I found myself cheering, clapping and generally smiling throughout the whole movie. The plot is nonsensical and entirely unrealistic, but it’s just so much fun that you’ll find that you don’t care.
There are some huge flaws with this film. For one, like I’ve said before, the plot is ridiculous. Somehow Liam has free reign to kill a bunch of people and never really have to worry about the police. Secondly, it’s terribly offensive making it seem like everyone in Europe wants to have sex with heroin addicted young women forced into prostitution and that men will go crazy, spending 500 thousand dollars on American virgins. Oddly, for a film written and directed by Frenchmen, this movie doesn’t have a high opinion of the country. The police are corrupt, all the immigrants are in the sex trade bussiness, all Algerians sell women and all Arabs buy virgins, and only a lone American in evil gay Paris can save the day. However, if you can look past the ludicrousness of it all, this film is a real treat to watch. Think Bourne if he was older and had no morals.
I mean I enjoyed Taken so much because it shattered all the clichés other films have. For instance I always wondered why the good spy never killed all the bad guys, instead knocking them out so then can come back later. No worries here since Liam kills everyone. I also always wondered why the good spy spent so long trying to extract, i.e. torture, information out of suspects. No worries here, he only has 96 hours and Liam means business. One of my favorite scenes is that after he finds out someone betrayed him, he goes over the guys house, shoots the guys wife in the arm, who’s totally innocent and doesn’t know the shadiness of her husband, and then yells, “she’ll get another between the eyes if you don’t talk.” About time someone goes that extra bit farther to save the day.
So to wrap things up, I’ll say this, Taken has one of the baddest hero’s in recent memory in Liam. This is not a terribly good film (it’s been getting slammed by critics, yet regular moviegoers seem to really like it). And sure it’s a Jason Bourne rip-off (I mean how many times have we referenced Bourne in this review), but come on people, its Liam Neeson. So yeah, for action, for some thrills, you’ll be hard pressed to find a more engaging and kick-ass film. So I give this a, bring your lunch from home because you do not want to miss this one. Sure it’s all be done before her, but rarely so well and so gratifying.