NOTE: Although eventually released with a PG-13 certificate, Taken was threatened an R rating from the MPAA for its excessive and intense violence. Skeptical critics have noted that the final cut is just a drop of blood away from an R rating, still. This review regards the “extended cut”, which includes all the amenities of the theatrical release (save for a few worthless ones) as well as the scenes that were forced to be clipped (which amount to a little more than three minutes).
Bottom Line: Thrilling and engaging, but a few extremely noticeable errors.
“If you let my daughter go now, that’ll be the end of it. I will not look for you, I will not pursue you. But if you don’t, I will look for you, I will find you, and I will kill you.” –Liam Neeson as Bryan Mills
Directed by: Pierre Morel
Starring: Famke Janssen, Liam Neeson, Maggie Grace
Entertaining but flawed thriller about a retired CIA agent, Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson). After celebrating her seventeenth birthday, his outgoing and somewhat juvenile daughter Kim (Maggie Grace) begs eagerly to visit Paris with her best friend Amanda (Katie Cassidy). After being chewed through heavily by his wife, Bryan gives in and allows them to fly to France (and, it turns out, a few more places) alone. Upon their arrival to their hotel, Amanda and Kim meet a handsome Albanian man. They share some information with him, not expecting to be kidnapped and sold as prostitutes by him and his henchmen. Now Bryan is desperate to save his daughter and her friend.
TAKEN wasn’t as great a thriller as I seem to be hearing. Without a few missteps, it would have been a flawless action movie. The major step it takes in the wrong direction is the fact that the script and one of the central characters (Kim) seemed a little too out of line. Maggie Grace portrays Kim as if she were celebrating her twelfth birthday, not her seventeenth. It’s also the fault of the script for making her a character who has aspired to be a singer since she was five years old. Honestly, how many people wish to pursue the same dream in their teen years as they did in their early childhoods? It also brought me into somewhat explosive laughter when her cell phone was ringing in her purse, and the contact name showed up as “Daddy”. She seems to below her age in this movie that I can’t imagine her eventuating as a prostitute.
There are some bright spots that make this a watchable thriller, if a flyby. One of these is the typical effort of Liam Neeson. He portrays an agressive CIA agent who will resort to anything as long as it helps him save his daughter. He does so well that we can believe him as someone who would hatefully torture another man (he confines a kidnapper, in one scene, to a chair and electrocutes him) because he loves his daughter. The special effects, as well, are great, especially the sound. We have fast-paced, well-timed action sequences thorough with gunfire and hand-on-hand combat, and what we hear is probably what keeps us watching the most. Maybe it’s sad, though, that this movie, in just about every way, is a bit too much like last year’s UNKNOWN, which I probably should have watched after TAKEN.