Tuesday, June 11, 2024

Tonight's Movie: Taken (2008)

Every so often I feel like an action movie -- and more specifically, a Liam Neeson action movie.

This week that movie was my first viewing of one of Neeson's best-known films, TAKEN (2008), and it did not disappoint.

The plot of this briskly told 90-minute film concerns Brian Mills (Neeson), a newly retired CIA agent with, to quote an iconic bit of dialogue, a "very particular set of skills."

He needs those skills when his teenage daughter Kim (Maggie Grace) and her friend Amanda (Katie Cassidy, daughter of David) are kidnapped by human traffickers while on vacation in Paris.

Brian's former colleagues provide him with information and tell him he will have just 96 hours to get from Los Angeles to Paris and save his daughter before she disappears forever.

This movie clicked with me from the opening scene on Hollywood Boulevard, where Brian pulls up at a store near Larry Edmunds Bookshop to buy his daughter a birthday gift. The Musso & Frank Grill is in view in the background.

As expected, the kidnapping scene is disturbing, and truth to tell I watched the film with my finger on the fast-forward button in case anything got too intense to be enjoyable; I skipped forward briefly twice. For the most part, the movie is Neeson doing what he does best, and I found it an enjoyable ride.

Brian's phone speech to the kidnappers is up there with Daniel Day-Lewis's "I will find you" from THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS (1992) in terms of memorably illustrating character and where the movie is going.

I also especially loved Brian's scenes with Jean-Claude (Olivier Rabourdin), a sellout French spy who's been taking bribes from the traffickers. In a shocking moment, Brian ratchets up the pressure on Jean-Claude by shooting his wife Isabelle (Camille Japy) in the arm. I admit to laughing out loud when he exclaimed "It's a flesh wound!"

There are other great moments, such as Brian revealing to his ex-wife's current husband Stuart (Xander Berkeley) that he knows absolutely everything about him, as he orders up wealthy Stuart's plane to be ready "an hour ago." I liked that the two men worked together cooperatively despite Brian's ex (Famke Janssen) being extremely brittle and edgy.

Brian's relationship with a singer client (Holly Vallance, below) he's hired to protect as a short-term gig provides nice bookend scenes to the movie. Vallance is appealing in the role.

TAKEN was directed by Pierre Morel; it was written by Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen and filmed by Michel Ambramowicz. The supporting cast includes Leland Orser, Jon Gries, and David Warshofsky.

Parental Advisory: This film is rated PG-13. In terms of disturbing subject matter, I found it closer to an R and felt it was more appropriate for age 17 and up. It's kind of funny that on the other hand, I thought Neeson's film RETRIBUTION (2023), which came out last year, was inexplicably rated R and should have been PG-13.

TAKEN is available on DVD as part of a three-movie set with the sequels TAKEN 2 (2012) and TAKEN 3 (2014). It's also on Blu-ray.

Previous Liam Neeson movie reviews: UNKNOWN (2011), NON-STOP (2014), THE LEGO MOVIE (2014), THE COMMUTER (2018), HONEST THIEF (2020), THE ICE ROAD (2021), MARLOWE (2023), RETRIBUTION (2023).


Blogger Margot Shelby said...

This is a great and fun action movie that didn't need to rely on constant CGI to be good. I miss these movies. Unfortunately, Taken 2 & 3 were not as good.

Another fun bare-bones action movie I stumbled on by accident is Premium Rush (2012). The premise sounds boring, about a bike messenger who's trying to deliver a package, but it's really good and only 90 minutes long.

3:08 PM  

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