Sunday, August 16, 2009

Now I'll Never Go to Europe...

MOVIE REVIEW - Taken (2008)
Starring Liam Neeson, Maggie Grace & Famke Janssen
Written by Luc Besson & Robert Mark Kamen
Directed by Pierre Morel

Trivia: this is the second movie in the last week that I've watched that was directed by a dude with a French name.

I would go into a long discussion about the underground sex trade in Europe, and about how thousands of innocent young women go missing, kidnapped and sold into prostitution, but this isn't that kind of blog, and the subject makes me want to punch something. Besides, this movie was less about slave trafficking and more about being a badass and saving your kid.

Liam Neeson stars as Bryan Mills, a government operative (which department is never revealed) who has retired to try to reconnect with his 17-year-old daughter Kim (Grace). There's also his slightly bitchy ex-wife (Janssen) and her rich, nice, and lame current husband, who gives Kim everything she wants and is super old-looking.

Turns out Kim wants to go to Europe to follow U2's European tour. Do 17-year-old girls who wear bedazzled jean jackets like U2 that much? If I'd seen this girl on the street, with her heart-printed hoodies and Keds, I would've suspected she'd be more interested in Jason Mraz. But whatever. Bitchy Mom and Super Old Rich Stepdad have bought her tickets and sweet hotel rooms for this trip. Problem is, she needs her father to sign permission to leave the country, since she's underage. Bryan warns her that it's a bad idea, but after having a guilt trip laid upon him, he agrees to sign the paper.

Of course, all of his fears came true, or there would be no movie.

Day One: She and her idiot friend meet a cute-ish French boy as they exit the airport. They share a cab. He sees where they're staying. Surprise surprise, he's a bad guy! He alerts the Albanian crime ring, who then kidnap the girls.

Unfortunately for the Albanians, Kim is on the phone with her father when the kidnapping occurs; he traces the call, hops a plane, and heads off to rescue her.

Now, a lot of what comes next is incredibly improbable. But Jay-zus, it was cool. Liam Neeson kicked an assload of ass (and believe me, that's a lot of ass). I've always liked him as an actor - he's got this incredible way about him. He can play a tough guy who gets emotional without it seeming unnatural. That was important for this film; we had to believe what kind of man Bryan was. The look on his face when his daughter screamed into the phone was heartbreaking... then he flew to Europe and started beating the shit out of everyone in the chain of command. There's a particularly nice scene involving jumper cables that I found quite entertaining.

The daughter was a little too naive for my taste - she was too sweet and innocent. I hadn't seen much of the world when I was 17, but I was a cynical little bitch, so why is this girl such a Pollyanna? But whatever. She was a nice kid. I wanted him to find her.

As for the PG-13 rating, I don't think it hurt the film. It was violent, but bloodless. No nudity, not much swearing, and yet it still worked. I think that if they'd rated it R they could've upped the ante, but we don't want another Death Wish on our hands - pushing it further may have made it tacky.

I liked it. Go see it.


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