In Theatres: 
Jan 30, 2009
Running Time: 
1 Hour, 33 Minutes

If your brain works like mine, well, you should probably get it checked. But wait until after you read this, cool?

Anyway, as I was saying, if your brain works like mine, you’ve been seeing the previews for Taken and thinking: “Liam Neeson, action star? Seriously?”

If you’re even more like me, you also thought, “Maggie Grace, playing a high school teenager? What the H?”

Yes, those were the two questions looming large in my mind when I started watching Taken. Granted, I figured that I would at least find the movie to be somewhat tolerable, given that it was written and produced by Luc Besson. I dig just about anything Monsieur Besson touches, so I sought redemption in his involvement. Plus I usually enjoy revenge flicks. There’s something about seeing justice meted out on-screen that makes my male heart go all a-flutter.

So imagine my pleasant surprise when I found my two main doubts quickly answered within the first few minutes of the film. Mr. Neeson plays a retired government operative or spy (or “preventer”…you say potato, I say he’s awesome) who quit before his time in order to make up for the big portions of his daughter’s childhood that he missed while being in the field.

Before the action gets into full swing, we get a chance to see him at work, as his old circle of spy buddies (including an appearance by Uncle Rico?!) talk him into working a night of security detail  for some huge pop starlet who’s in town for concert. While guarding and escorting her, some crazed fan or maniac tries to assault her, thus sending Neeson into “work-mode.” He handles the fight scenes throughout the film incredibly well and at some point my brain remembered his work on Batman Begins and the sweet fights he had against Christian Bale. Liam, I owe you an apology.

As for Miss Grace, she does a great job conveying the shortsighted, unbridled excitement of adolescence, as she begs and pleads her way into an unsupervised trip with a friend to Paris. Again, my apologies for doubting your mad skills, Maggie.

In the end, I’m not really giving anything away (unless you haven’t seen the trailer) when I say that what is ensues is a pretty awesome rollercoaster ride of Neeson tracking down the people who kidnapped his daughter and getting them to spill the beans on her whereabouts. There are some great scenes, especially one involving two nails and a current of electricity. You’ll know it when you see it.

The fights are fairly well choreographed, as are the car chases. If anything, Taken definitely borrows heavily from the Bourne school of action filmmaking. That’s probably the biggest slight against it, though the story is definitely not a Bourne rip-off. Beyond that, there are a couple of scenes that probably would have benefited from a little more development, as some of the plot points/sequences seem to match up a little too conveniently. Granted, it is an action movie and as such, you want to keep the pace brisk. But a bit more attention to the details would have helped push certain scenes over the edge into complete believability.

As it is, Taken is a solid flick and one that I would definitely recommend. In an Oscar season of self-important films and self-congratulatory commendations about how awesome and influential Hollywood is, it’s nice to sit down and watch a movie that just kicks ass and takes names.

Jeremy Hunt
Review by Jeremy Hunt
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