Action, audaciousness and bullets, oh my! Taken, directed by Pierre Morel, demonstrates that a vigilante does not need a utility belt to get the job done if he has “the courage to do all that is necessary.” Ex-CIA agent Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) shows he does have the courage and the skills to free his daughter after she is suddenly kidnapped.
Bryan Mills, now retired in Los Angeles, wants nothing more than to make a relationship with his daughter Kim. After his government assignments destroyed his marriage years ago, he feels this father-daughter bonding is his saving grace in life and is determined to mend their relationship despite his rough-natured shortcomings.
Indeed, he makes progress and even receives a huge thank you by giving her permission to take a trip to Paris, but all goes sour when he receives a call from her only hours after arrival. Abductors are in the house, and they have come for her. I can only describe the effect on Bryan of the kidnappers taking the girl as snatching a cub from a rampaging mother bear.
Taken takes action and reveres the concept with the blood of dozens of sickeningly vile criminals. There is no middle ground in this movie—nothing is up for negotiation. Bryan Mills will not stop as long as he possesses even a single method to end men’s lives. Though the torture and violence are turned up eleven notches, the film provides an admirable story to drive the character and most, if not all, loose ends are tied up.
Morel does a handy job of giving the audience everything they want to see on the silver screen, even though he doesn’t do anything too original. There really is no way to improve upon the kind of hand-to-hand combat seen with Batman, Bond and Bourne, which is why Mills’ action sequences are so similar to these recent, memorable flicks.
What makes this action movie so great is that Bryan Mills’ story has more shock value. The sensation of vigilantism against a horrible situation sets the movie on a needle’s point, showing what great audacity it takes to be the one fighting.
Liam Neeson is outstanding in the film. He takes the persona of Bryan Mills, and to a great extent the concept of a righteous killer, to a dynamic high. The martial prowess, the shoot-outs and the intimidation tactics he employs are pitch perfect.
Although most other members of the cast are rarely seen after Taken reaches Paris, the cast supports quite nicely. Olivier Rabourdin weaves the part of a tired dog of the French DCRI just looking to provide for his wife and family. More importantly, Kim Mills (Maggie Grace), the abducted daughter, shows a full spectrum of human emotion that binds the audience to her plight.
Grace actually forces the audience to pay attention to her, and the audience wants to see a happy ending where father and daughter are brought together. As for the criminals, they last no longer than a minute or two onscreen because of the mayhem of multiple murders. However, they make a great contribution in promoting clear and evident villains.
Stylistically, the film could be characterized as a Die Hard story (sans humor and excessive explosions) blended with Bourne violence. The plot could be summarized shortly but is tiresomely lengthened by a subplot involving a star singer who finally relates to the film’s ending. The subplot was forced into a most inconvenient spot separating the film’s beginning from the action, and I am holding it accountable for said boredom.
This is not some colorful block of creativity (unless you count torture and death as creative), but it is perfect when I yearn for a bluntly aggressive action movie. Some moments of Taken are quite horrible and even sickening, but I believe it deserves applause, and I would not change the gruesomeness of the film just to make it more widely appealing.