I like the trend that Hollywood is on as far as getting real actors to play heroes in action films. As much as I like Jason Statham and his ilk, sometimes an action film is more than fistfights and gunshots. Sometimes, an action film is about the man involved in the action and the emotions and passion that drive him. Such is the case with TAKEN, and a lesser actor wouldn’t have been able to pull off this character.
With a name like “TAKEN”, you know what you’re getting into. Give credit to director Pierre Morel for not wasting our time and at the 28 minute mark, he lives up to the title’s promise and has Bryan Mills’s (Liam Neeson) daughter “taken”. Half an hour may seem like a long time to get to the point, but believe me when I say that this film is not about what happens before she’s taken, it’s about what happens afterwards. There’s a minor attempt to establish some background story and some depth to Bryan, but the audience doesn’t really care. We just want to see him kick some bad guy ass.
And kick it he does. Once his daughter is kidnapped during a trip to Paris, he starts packing and then he’s off to the city of romance to find her. When I watch movies like this, I put myself in their situation and try to think about what I would do if I were in their predicament. So I was pleased when he logically followed the trail and we didn’t have any “magical” moments. There was nothing that made you roll your eyes because it didn’t make sense or wouldn’t happen in real life. He does his investigation and utilizes the contacts he has. For the record, the only difference between me and Bryan is that I would have gotten my butt kicked by everyone I came in contact with and he didn’t. So here’s hoping no one I know ever gets kidnapped by an Albanian sex-trafficking gang while on vacation in Paris.
But the greatness of the film lies solely in Liam Neeson’s unflinching Bryan. He’s a man possessed and he’s willing to do anything to find and rescue his daughter. He doesn’t care what line he crosses, how many people he kills, or how many friends he loses; he’s going to find his daughter. The trick to pulling something like that off in film is to mix desperate actions with intense action. Judging by the hand imprint at the edge of my home theater seat, I can say they pull it off exceptionally well.
We’ve seen man-on-mission films before, but don’t let the well-traveled storyline prevent you from checking this one out. There’s a reason this film grossed over $100 million during its theatrical run. It’s an intense film and don’t ever doubt that the man that played Dr. Kinsey can seriously hurt you…especially if you mess with his daughter.