January is typically the month when studios release their leftovers, the films that are not deemed worthy of the main film seasons (summer and winter).
Occasionally, a film is released that is able to break that code, and fortunately, this January, that film was “Taken,” an edge-of-your-seat thriller starring an unlikely action hero, Liam Neeson.
“Taken,” the much-delayed second feature-length and first English-language film directed by Pierre Morel and written by famed screenwriter Luc Besson(“Le Femme Nikita”) follows the intense journey of Bryan Mills, a retired CIA operative who hunts down the perpetrators who kidnapped his daughter Kim, convincingly played by Maggie Grace.
Bryan reluctantly agrees to let Kim and a friend, Amanda, travel to Paris. When the girls arrive, they accept the offer of a friendly, suave Frenchman to share a cab to their apartment for the sake of saving on cab fare. Soon after, men appear at their apartment, and Kim witnesses them kidnap Amanda, while on the phone with her father (Bryan). Kim unsuccessfully hides from the kidnappers, and Bryan is forced to listen to his daughter scream and fight as she is being taken.
Afterward, a man takes Kim’s phone, which allows Bryan to inform him, in the most memorable line of the film, “I will look for you, I will find you, and I will kill you.”
What follows is 90 minutes of pure adrenaline as we witness a father who will kill anyone in his way and stop at nothing to get his daughter back.
Neeson is perfectly cast as the father on a quest for revenge. He shoots, stabs, punches, kicks and ultimately kills numerous people with such ease and skill that it’s a wonder he has not played this role before.
Never once did the film become too ridiculous or unrealistic to enjoy, but rather allowed the viewer to suppress those notions and cheer him on.
You will have to accept that Bryan is the only person capable of finding those responsible as well as getting her back, but when you are watching the film, it should not cross your mind, but rather becomes a realization after the credits have rolled.
Being PG-13, the filmmakers have noticeably toned down the violence, but the film does not need heaps of blood to express Bryan’s lack of emotion when he kills the men responsible for his daughter’s kidnapping.
“Taken” is an intelligent, well-crafted thriller that assumes its audience does not need an abundance of explosions to be satisfied. It is not meant simply for pure entertainment, but instead exposes the raw truth of underground organizations throughout the world.
The film’s plot, after all, revolves around underage prostitution and sex trafficking and with that, it is more than your average revenge flick. “Taken” makes you sympathize with Bryan, and banks on the assumption that if someone closest to you were kidnapped, you would want to do the exact same thing.