Taken (PG 13)
Staring: Liam Neeson, Famke Janssen, and Maggie Grace
Directed by: Pierre Morel
Taken is not thick on plot. What it lacks in dynamic storyline, though, it makes up in style and action. Liam Neeson plays a retired CIA agent, Bryan Mills, whose teenage daughter is abducted by a human trafficking ring while she is in Paris for the summer. Mills springs into action, flying to Paris to seek out his daughter amidst secretive and violent sex traders and corrupt officials.
Mills had retired from the CIA for the express purpose of being closer to his daughter. After following a career that had cost him his marriage, he’s trying to make up for lost time. His devotion to his daughter and his concern for her well-being are obviously the driving force of his life. Once she’s taken, all of that is channeled into finding her.
Mills’ CIA experience has prepared him well for the task at hand. Combine that expertise with the desperation to find his daughter and the fact that he now sees everyone who stands in his way as total scum, and you have a recipe for a lot dead henchmen.
The action in this film is good, but what really struck me was the tone and style of the film. This is only Pierre Morel’s second film in the director’s chair, but his previous experience as a cinematographer shines through. Visually, the film is very well put together, with great shots that maximize the action and the amazing backdrop of Paris. Even more than the action, Morel captures the perspective of Neeson’s anguished character, and to be fair, Neeson delivers a solid performance as well.
From the very beginning, the viewer gets a sense of what Mills has given up to regain relationship with his daughter. Words aren’t really needed to get this point across. Morel delivers with the camera alone. Evident as well is the pure delight that Mills’ daughter brings to his life. Once the action is underway, Morel paints the seedy underworld that Mills must enter as just that–a seedy underworld, not to be glamorized. For a film that spends most of its time dealing with the world of sex trafficking, you would expect that at some point there would be some gratuitous display of skin, some revealing shot of an actress in a compromised position. And though there were plenty of opportunities to do so, Morel chose not to. Instead, we see this world the way that Mills sees it. The girls are in a sad state – you see them as someone else’s daughter, whisked away before they knew what was happening and forced into a drug-induced half daze to be used like a disposable thing. The bad guys have no redeeming qualities whatsoever. There is no “diamond in the rough” in this film. The bad guys are really, really bad guys. Their calloused indifference to the value of human life makes them seem worse than your average movie villain. You really have no problem whatsoever seeing them die… and Mills delivers, killing off anyone who gets in his way.
Bottom line, this is an action movie. While I could identify with the underlying theme of a father’s unending devotion to his daughter, what I enjoyed most was the action. With a PG-13 rating, you don’t find much in the way of language in Taken. There’s plenty of violence, but it’s not gory. And as I already mentioned, skin is kept to a minimum. What you do get is a visually rewarding and action-satisfying film. Unless this type of thing appeals to your sweetheart, this is a guy’s night movie. That’s what is was for me, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Your Daddy Time: Worth it or Wasted? Worth it! 3.5/5 stars
The Rating System is for dads who need to know one thing- Is this movie WORTH IT to:
* Pack up the kids, bags, etc and trek to the theater – or
* Find a babysitter so Dad can have a date night – or
* Cash in brownie points with the Mrs. so he can go with his buddies
If it doesn’t fit these simple criteria, the movie gets the WASTED rating, which means – don’t waste the precious time you have, wait for video/cable when you can squeeze it between chores, work and sleep.
Ben Martin is the CEO of THE FATHER LIFE. He lives with his wife and five children in the Rochester, NY, area.