A full year ago I first saw the trailer for Taken and I was hooked. It was originally slated to come out in September, but the Writer’s Strike weakened the release competition in the following year and I had to wait until Super Bowl weekend to finally get my chance to see the film that excited me so much. I saw the film on a “guy’s night” and two days later I dragged my wife with me to watch it again. Taken was everything I could ask for in a thriller, it had a breakneck pace with no lag in tension, a likable character, solid action, and a satisfying conclusion. I hadn’t had such a good time at the theater since The Dark Knight.
The set-up is simple, Brian Mills (Liam Neeson) a retired Agent (imagine James Bond at fifty) moves close to his daughter to make up for the time he missed while serving his country. She goes to Paris with a friend despite his reservations and while there is abducted to be sold into prostitution. Brian was on the phone with her when the abduction began and quickly springs into action to rescue his daughter and enact frightening justice upon those responsible.
Pierre Morel steps into the director’s chair for the second time after the sleeper action hit District B13 and after being Luc Besson’s (Leon – The Professional) go-to Cinematographer for a few years. His eye for kinetic action is improving and I look forward to his next project. Liam Neeson continues to evoke the paternal powers he has become known for in Hollywood (Star Wars – Episode I, The Phantom Menace, Chronicles of Narnia, Batman Begins), but when he unleashes his fury it is terrifying. Like Rambo a year ago it has been nice to see amazing action stars older than forty continue to kick butt and while Taken doesn’t lend easily into a sequel I hope Liam Neeson finds his way into an action role when he finishes his work on the upcoming Clash of the Titans remake (He is cast as Zeus). The rest of the cast is filled with decent character actors including Famke Janssen (X-Men’s Jean Grey), Maggie Grace (Lost Season One), and Xander Berkely (24).
The two-disc edition comes with a digital copy and a couple decent features although many of them have subtitles since the director and many of the creative team are French. Warning, the premier footage included is a little tough to watch now that Liam Neeson’s wife Natasha Richardson suddenly passed away a few weeks back.
Audio Commentary with Director Pierre Morel, Writer Robert Mark Kamen, and Cinematographers Michel Abramowicz and Michel Julienne (Commentary has Subtitles)
Le Making Of Featurette
Inside Action: Side by Side Comparisons