Taken is a 2009 action movie directed by Pierre Morel. Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) is a former CIA agent and has recently retired so that he can spend more time with his daughter (Maggie Grace). They haven’t seen much of each other in the last few years, and he wishes to rekindle the relationship they once had. Soon after moving, he finds out that his daughter is going away to Europe for the summer, meaning he won’t get the time alone with her that he wanted. After reluctantly signing the forms allowing her to go, he receives a phone call late at night. Her daughter is telling him that her best friend has been kidnapped and that the kidnappers were on their way to find her. Calmly telling her what will happen, Mills soon traces the call and begins the hunt for his now kidnapped daughter.
The plot is incredibly simple, taking a slightly different spin-off the classic revenge style of storytelling. The first minutes of the film are set up to allow you to get some depth into the characters, while the rest of the film has Liam Neeson finding people who have information regarding the whereabouts of his daughter, and subsequently beating them up before, during or after they tell him what they know. The subplot of the film deals with the issue of human trafficking, which the film actually somewhat disregards. Mills ends up finding dozens of girls throughout the film who have suffered a similar fate to his daughter, and yet doesn’t do anything to save them. You could pass this up to him being a man on a mission, but in all honestly, it seemed somewhat odd to see him not even feel empathy towards these imprisoned people.
As for the acting, there isn’t all that much to say. Liam Neeson is great in his role, and his casing actually works well for an action style movie. The rest of the cast doesn’t deserve such high praise, which, while unfortunate, doesn’t ultimately matter that much. The majority of the other characters within the film are nameless people who have the job of being beaten up by Liam Neeson. The main exception to this being the daughter, played by Maggie Grace. There are a couple of issues I have with this character. For one, she doesn’t look seventeen years old. She was around 24-25 while shooting Taken, and she just doesn’t quite have the appearance of a seventeen year old. The second issue is less about her age, and more about the fact that her character doesn’t seem to have any emotional depth. She gets scared, and she can be happy. There is nothing else that she does, and it takes away from the way the film is set up, as it makes you care less about Bryan Mills’ quest, as you don’t really care for his daughter.
What I can say about the film is that the story is handled quite well. The character development at the beginning is more or less all that we get in the film, but it is enough to make us empathize with Mills. After his daughter is kidnapped, the film doesn’t slow down. That is a good thing. If it had, some of the contrived events might have made it closer to the front of my mind, but since after about 30 minutes in, it is pretty much “all action,” I never really had a chance to ponder why certain things actually happened. The quick pacing helped the film stay together, and the action scenes allowed the pacing to work.
Liam Neeson manages to play the action star well, despite the fact that you might think he is physically too old to be one. He is rugged, and actually makes the many fight scenes seem believable. There are also many, many action sequences within the movie, making it an incredibly exciting film to watch. There are many methods that Mills uses to interrogate, punish or just outright kill people, and they get shown in an incredibly brutal manner. Thankfully, the filmmakers kept these scenes as realistic as possible, not using much, if any, CGI blood. The fights feel real, and when a character that you care about it in them, you can really get behind both him, and the fight itself.
Taken is an adrenaline-pumping film. The plot is fairly basic, and keeping it that way actually works towards the film’s advantage. It allows more time to be allotted to the action scenes. These scenes are plentiful, as well as exciting. Character development more or less stops occurring after the opening few scenes, but there isn’t really any required after that. It basically is just a father hunting down the people who kidnapped his daughter. That is all, but it plays out in an exciting, and interesting way. The acting on the whole is about average, with the main character played by Liam Neeson being well performed, while his daughter detracts from every scene she is in. The supporting cast is not noteworthy, as the majority of the other characters are just there to be beaten on by Liam Neeson. If there was ever a film to convince you of the love that a father has for his children, this is it.
Conclusion: Taken is a solid action movie.
Recommendation: It may be the only one in the franchise worth seeing, but if you want a good action movie starring an older actor, Taken might be worth the time.