I WILL FIND YOU.
I WILL KILL YOU.
Studio Name: 20th Century Fox
MPAA Rating: UNRATED & PG-13
Disc Information: 50GB Dual Layer Widescreen 2.40:1; U.S. Region 1 Release
Video Codec: AVC@ 34 MBPS
Tested Audio Track: English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio (DTS core tested)
Director: Pierre Morel
Starring Cast: Liam Neeson, Famke Janssen
DIGITAL COPY of the film included
Some marketing materials for this outrageous, edge-of-your-seat Liam Neeson thriller proclaimed "Move Over, Jason Bourne!" and indeed, Neeson kicks mucho ass in this...so much so that some parallel him and can envision him as a 007 down the line...with some British accent lessons, of course.
Theatrically, Taken didn't succeed, and that was a head-scratcher because this was one of the most entertaining films -- let alone action pictures -- of the past few months. Making the theatrical launch very bittersweet for Mr. Neeson was the fact that his wife had died while they were on a ski vacation I believe it was...right before the film had opened in box offices everywhere.
But oh, how Neeson just fit like a glove in this role...the plot tells a rather brief 90-minute run time story about Neeson's character, who is a retired special agent spy with Jason Bourne and James Bond-like training, and who has become overtly paranoid from his time during his missions. He is divorced from the sexy Famke Janssen (House on Haunted Hill) and brings his paranoia and over-protectiveness to his daughter's world; the daughter, played by Maggie Grace, is a teenager now living with her new stepfather, a seemingly wealthy balding putz who owns a mansion and throws birthday parties for Grace that Nicky Hilton would be jealous of...almost. There's a sense of competition between the two fathers; Neeson brings Grace a GPX-brand karaoke machine for her birthday, and the stepfather buys her a horse which she rides around in front of her friends. And the ex-wife? Janssen plays the ultra-bitch she's so good at playing in things like House on Haunted Hill.
At first, you wouldn't think the rather semi-aging Neeson could pull off a role such as this...but as the action heats up, his performance as a martial arts-laden superspy is one you simply have to experience to appreciate. A group of Neeson's also retired spy friends tell him about a job they want to include him on, which involves private protection for a pop diva singer. Neeson agrees, and is assigned direct protection in the girl's dressing room. When the singer is attacked by an armed assailant, we see Neeson's training come into action for the first time -- and he puts this guy down as fast as Steven Seagal. There's a connection between Neeson's daughter wanting to be a pop singer and this girl he's protecting; after Neeson saves her life, she gives up her manager and vocal coach's contact information for his daughter. Those kinds of chances don't come every day.
The plot begins to come alive when Neeson meets Grace at a favorite restaurant, with Janssen in tow, and the daughter tells him she wants to go to Paris with her best friend to experience all the culture and art of the city -- the truth is, the girls are going to supposedly follow U2 on their European tour dates. While Neeson's paranoid, ridiculously overprotective character doesn't know this yet, he refuses at first but then allows her to go to Paris with the condition that she stay in touch with him at all times. The girls go, and the trampy, promiscuous friend ends up falling for a lame Euro-trasher named "Peter" who asks to share a cab with them on the Taxi line outside Charles DeGaulle Airport. Peter asks them to come to a party that night, and gets the address where they're staying, but he ends up being a contact guy for a group of Albanians who have staked a claim in France for the business of kidnapping and selling young girls for high-end prostitution rings.
In an exciting sequence, Neeson finally speaks to the daughter after attempting to contact her countless times, and as she speaks, her friend is abducted by a group of men right across the way from the bathroom she is in. Neeson understands what is going on just from what she is telling him, and in a rather odd part braces her for the fact that she's about to be kidnapped -- I thought Pierre Morel clouded things a bit here, as it's almost as if Neeson knew this was coming based on his reactions on the phone; at any rate, Neeson gets a good listen to their accents as they kidnap the girl. In the film's marketing jargon -- as indicated at the top of my review -- Neeson seethes some heavy-duty threats about what will happen to these men if they don't give him his daughter back...and it's really cool to listen to. Liam Neeson as a bad ass! Well, he proved he could do this already in Batman Begins but this is different; the kidnappers reply with "Good Luck"...and the chase is on.
Neeson informs Janssen what has happened, along with the a-hole stepfather, and the rich stepfather flies him to Paris via private jet, where he breaks down every door to find his daughter. These sequences are the most exciting in Taken, where Neeson first learns who the kid was who spotted his daughter and her friend -- and who is still doing it as more girls fly into Paris -- and beats him to a pulp trying to gain information. With the spotter dead (in a wild scene in which he's struck by a speeding truck) Neeson turns his sights on the underground prostitution ring in the city, which eventually leads him to the Albanians who are in control of the kidnapping ring. All the while, a French investigator who has a history with Neeson's character, is tracking his every move, refusing to give up any information about the group. Neeson's search eventually lands him in a place where ultra-wealthy sheiks and lords from all over the globe actually sit in a circle and "buy" sexy young girls that have been kidnapped by this organization and drugged into coma-like states so they simply cannot resist. The sequence where the girls are "bid on" is a bit disturbing, but what's more disturbing is the visual of the fat bastard beached whale who bid on Neeson's daughter -- the thought of what that fat f***ing pig was going to do to this teen in high heels stoned out of her gourd on G-d knows what will make you barf up your Marie Calendar's Lasagna dinner.
Good thing Neeson arrived just in time, eh?
There's also a clever, satisfying end sequence involving the pop diva from the beginning and Neeson's daughter, which I won't divulge.
What's refreshing about Taken is that for the first time in a long time, a film actually made sense and didn't require a doctorate in mythology to really understand...not only that, it runs at a brisk 90 minutes as I said, so it never really drags on in any one spot. This was a very entertaining, solidly-made action thriller that although I enjoyed more in the theater, will definitely have replay time in your home theaters.
Also of note...this is the "Unrated" 2-Disc Extended Cut of the title, which gives you the option of watching the theatrical version or the "extended" version; after selecting the extended cut, I saw really nothing different nor "longer" to warrant it receiving this moniker as compared to my memory of the theatrical release.
But Neeson does kick ass in this...
Did I say that already?
REVIEW CONTINUED BELOW...