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I'm afraid we must again lament the fact that the movie of the week is not available on Netflix Instant. However, the lamentations are for different reasons. Last week I covered a classic action comedy steeped in supernatural tea which would make for a quick laugh and a good time when necessary. Taken, on the other hand, is what you should reach for when your brain needs a direct injection of adrenaline.

Courtesy 20th Century Fox

Liam Neeson is cast as Bryan Mills, a retired CIA prevention specialist trying to patch up his relationship with his 17-year-old daughter. Being 17 and a little spoiled, she absconds with a friend to Europe to follow U2 on tour. Bryan warns her that precautions should be taken but Kim isn't really interested in such things as much as she is hot rock stars and playing her parents against each other. All that changes, however, when mysterious men break into the Parisian home of her friends' cousins with intent to kidnap the girls. Fortunately, Kim's on the phone with her dad. Preparing her for the worst, the phone is picked up by one of the kidnappers. Bryan says the following:

I don't know who you are. I don't know what you want. If you are looking for ransom, I can tell you I don't have money. But what I do have are a very particular set of skills; skills I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you. If you let my daughter go now, that'll be the end of it. I will not look for you, I will not pursue you. But if you don't, I will look for you, I will find you... and I will kill you.

You can guess what happens next.

Courtesy 20th Century Fox
Yeah, kidnapping the girl doesn't make Daddy happy.

Casting Liam Neeson in this role was a stroke of genius. Imagine if most other Hollywood actors had taken on this two-fisted unfettered covert operative on a roaring rampage of rescue. From Mel Gibson to Matt Damon, it would have been very difficult for most of them to pull of the consistent, cultured restraint that informs every word Bryan says and every move he makes. It's this behavior, this very focused and very direct method of executing action, that has caused comparisons to arise between this character and 24's Jack Bauer. And we simply wouldn't have that without Liam Neeson. He's fantastic in this role.

He's also what holds the whole affair together. Without his electrifying performance, there wouldn't be much to Taken. I mean, I had to liven up the plot description with some of Liam's lines. The story's as straightforward as they come and you're likely to see most of the turns coming well in advance. But let's face it, you're not here for nuanced and deep storytelling, you're here to watch Liam Neeson make the Paris underworld cry for its mommy.

Courtesy 20th Century Fox
And if Daddy ain't happy...

That isn't to say that Taken is dumb, by any means. It's a dead simple premise, sure, and most of the characters are obstacles of one type or another for Liam to overcome with a good punch to the throat. But the way in which the action is executed, the composition of its shots and the lack of shaky-cam acrobatics keep the film grounded, all the better to conduct the aforementioned electricity. The abduction doesn't happen for a good 20 minutes into the film, and all that time is character building for Bryan in a very smart way. It's like seeing a lion at the zoo when it's close to feeding time, the great beast pacing back and forth with barely contained ferocity while still looking majestic. Taken is what happens when that cage is opened after the lion's been poked and prodded a little by fat, annoying tourists.

There are some who might say that it's mere wish fulfillment for fathers who have become estranged from their children and long for the means to prove themselves in a crucible other than long court proceedings and awkward visitation incidents. There's also the fact that Liam Neeson, a white Western European man, is going after Albanians and, at one point, an Arab or two. There are probably some unfortunate implications that can be read into that. However, this is played less for a feeling of jingoistic vengeance than it is for... well, people in Bryan's way who are too dumb to move when he kicks down the door. Color, creed, sex and money mean nothing to this man; come near his family and he will ruin your life, which may not be very long past meeting the man. Meet the man yourself by watching Taken. This character played by this man single-handedly pulls the movie out of the sea of similar action-thrillers and lets it stand on its own as an interesting character piece as well as a very satisfying thrill ride that I highly doubt would leave you disappointed.

Josh Loomis can't always make it to the local megaplex, and thus must turn to alternative forms of cinematic entertainment. There might not be overpriced soda pop & over-buttered popcorn, and it's unclear if this week's film came in the mail or was delivered via the dark & mysterious tubes of the Internet. Only one thing is certain... IT CAME FROM NETFLIX.

Good review, and a very apt analogy with the lion and the poking by fat tourists - mechanically Taken is nothing special really, and with a different portrayal of the lead character it might have been utterly forgettable, but Liam Neeson made that film. Watching him just absolutely destroy everyone stupid enough to get in his way was a real treat.

...and now I want to watch it again, but Netflix doesn't have it available for streaming - curses! Thwarted again! Oh well, at least I can take solace in the knowledge that Netflix is adding the entirety of Star Trek to its collection, that aught to keep me busy for a while.

I actually got to see Taken with a bunch of friends, and the first time, we declared that a drinking game could have come out of it just by how many times Liam Neeson's character snaps somebody's neck and/or does something awesome.

We also declared not doing that drinking game on the idea the Alcohol Poisoning would be less fun.

OT: Taken was a good movie. I will admit, after FX played it with an annoying repeat about 10 times too many, I have got tired of it, but my initial response was that it was a good movie, well put together and dramatic enough in the last act to really make me fall in love with it.

I remember seeing this movie a few months back and being awestruck at Neeson's performance. After all, he is not an action star (or was not), and is better know for dramatic roles like Schindler making a list a checking it twice.
Although I do not think the movie was genius it was a very pleasant way to see ass being kicked for an hour and a half. The same movie with some other actor it would have been same ol', same ol'... except, maybe Pewee Herman

Neeson is a master actor in this film.
He carries the entire piece. The rest are just cardboard boxes. This is a one actor piece, he couldv'e had monologues and dance ruitines that look like fighting and it would still look amazing.

I loved this film. It makes Bourne and Bond look like pansies by comparison

I've heard good things about this one, and I'm a big fan of Neeson. I'll have to check it out sometime. :D

I remember watching and liking this film not too long ago. Such a shame the amount of money I own has fallen faster than my hopes that Rage will be any good, but that's besides the point. This was a great review (as expected from you) of a film I remember enjoying.

Calumon: Taken's a silly name. If you picked it up you'd say you've taken Taken! XD


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