Newest Review: ... of the sneaky scenes. I'd watched this movie not to long ago, and i'd recently seen Taken 2, Yesterday in fact. But i'd recommend that if... more
Every parent's worst nightmare...
Taken  (DVD)
Member Name: sunmeilan
Taken  (DVD)
Advantages: Entertaining, gripping action film
Disadvantages: All goes a bit too smoothly..
With all the actors involved, I had just presumed that it was a Hollywood thriller/action film, so I was quite surprised to find that this is a French action film, directed by Pierre Morel, which premiered in France in February 2008 and wasn't released in the UK until later in 2008, or America until early 2009. However, before anyone panics, it is in English, with just a bit of French thrown in every now and again.
As Bryan Mills, Liam Neeson gives a great performance. I wasn't sure he would be able to pull it off - he is looking his age and just doesn't seem like a typical action hero. Nevertheless, this is an action hero with brains, which makes it work - and is a refreshing change from the usual muscle-men that take on this sort of role. And his feelings for his daughter are immediately apparent - although he doesn't live with her any more and doesn't know her all that well, he will do anything to save her - and Neeson conveys all this convincingly - just as well as he's rarely off the screen. I've always had a lot of time for Neeson as an actor; this has compounded my view that he is always worth watching, no matter how different the role is from his usual ones. He reminds me of Kevin Costner to look at, but he has a lot more talent as far as I'm concerned.
Maggie Grace is good as Bryan's daughter, Kim. She is not an actress that I'm familiar with - I didn't get on the Lost bandwagon, and although she was in The Fog, I really can't remember her making an impression on me (but then the film in general didn't). Kim is a typical bratty teenager who thinks she's invincible, but there is enough affection for her father to make the viewer care about what happens to her. And although she doesn't have a particularly big role - it really is nearly all Liam Neeson - she does give an excellent impression of being zonked out on drugs. The fact that she is not a bad actress and happens to be beautiful will do her no harm in the future, I'm sure. It was also good to see Leland Orser (ER) as one of Bryan's friends - I'd have been happy to see him in a larger role, but it wasn't to be.
The film is a relatively short one at just 93 minutes, which I consider to be an advantage. The film works well because it is more or less all action from start to finish; there really is hardly any time to take breath before the next heart-pumping escapade is happening. Had the film been any longer, I think that the holes in the plot would have been a lot more apparent. Bryan's ability to work out so quickly what is going on is quite miraculous, even with all his training, as are his fighting skills - taking on several men at once seems to be just that little bit too easy. And surely there should be repercussions? Nevertheless, I found it quite easy to forgive all this - it is rare that a film keeps me on the edge of my seat like this one did.
There is a fair amount of violence and aggression in the film, hence the classification of 18 (although I believe that the version played in America has a lot less violence in it), which makes it inappropriate for children. There is also a lot of drug-taking, or at least portrayals of women after drug-taking, plus a great deal of sexual references while Bryan is in a brothel. This is actually a lot more upsetting than the violence - and is a frightening example of the real evil that still exists in this world. The story behind the film may be fiction, but there is no doubt that crimes such as this do take place. I'm glad my parents hadn't seen this film before I went to live abroad!
Set in Paris, there is automatically a feeling of quality about the film and the cinematography - perhaps unfairly, but then Paris is such a beautiful city. To be honest, we don't get to see a great deal of Paris anyway - Bryan spends a lot of time in nasty hovels, very far away from the splendour of the capital city's grander buildings. Nevertheless, there is enough of the nicer parts of Paris to make an impression on the viewer and I enjoyed it very much. Pierre Morel is the director, but he has more experience of cinematography than he does direction (this is only the second film he has directed), and I think he has put his skills to good use here. Apparently, much of the camera work he did himself.
There are a couple of extras with the DVD. Firstly, there is a making of feature, which largely consists of Liam Neeson talking through the film. He is not exactly a charismatic interviewee, but he does the job. There's a bit of an interview with Pierre Morel as well - unfortunately it isn't subtitled and my French is fairly basic. The next feature consists of clips taken before the premiere, showing everyone arriving, including Liam Neeson's late wife, Natasha Richardson. Then there is a selection of side-by-side comparisons - basically scenes as they are shown on screen coupled with clips of those scenes being filmed. This latter extra is probably only of value to those with an interest in the production side of things.
I did enjoy watching this film. It isn't often these days that an action film will have me sitting on the edge of my seat, but this one did, even though there were a number of question marks about the plot. And Liam Neeson was excellent - I hope he does more films like this. Let's hope Pierre Morel does more directing too - I think he did a great job, particularly with Luc Besson on board as the producer and one of the writers. If you haven't seen it yet, you should. Recommended.
The DVD is available from play.com for £4.99.
Running time: 93 minutes
Summary: A European action thriller that works well