Taken Movie Review
Liam Neeson stars in the understated thriller about a retired paramilitary specialist who must put his skills to use when his daughter is kidnapped in Paris.
Directed by Pierre Morel, and written by Luc Besson, the director of The Fifth Element and The Transporter Trilogy, Taken is a taut, subtle thriller propelled forward by a nuanced performance by Liam Neeson. The film is driven forward Neeson’s character – former CIA agent Bryan Mills – who has a 96 hour window in which to find his daughter, who has been kidnapped by a ring of international sex traffickers. He immediately follows her to Paris where he proceeds to put his formidable skills and connections to work. If he fails he will never see his daughter again.
Set in and around Paris, the movie takes many cues from Matt Damon’s Bourne Trilogy, both stylistically and technically. Morel utilizes the so-called “shaky-cam” method popularized by Bourne Identity director Doug Liman. Shot in Paris, the movie has an exotic international flavour, as well as a kind of grittiness as when the director peels back the slick and sophisticated surface to reveal the seedy underbelly of human nature.
Equally powerful was the performance of Famke Jansen, who played Liam Neeson’s estranged, and recently remarried, wife. Even though she had few scenes, her performance as she learns the news of her daughter’s kidnapping is very powerful and difficult to watch. The same can also be said for Neeson’s reaction while listening to his daughter being kidnapped. His restraint is impressive – tears in his eyes are the only betrayal of the emotions the father feels while hearing his daughter`s screams on the other end of the phone.
There have been questions raised by some critics as to whether or not Liam Neeson was the right actor for this movie – and it`d likely that Harrison Ford, Bruce Willis, or Tom Cruise might have been better suited for this role. While these actors all would have worked well in the place of Liam Neeson, Neeson was nevertheless successful in bringing both paternal warmth and a professional hardness to the role in the right balance.
Overall, Taken is a gritty, dirty action movie filled with tension and subtle performances by its main stars. Some people find Morel’s shaky-cam technique difficult to watch, but there is no denying that it adds energy to this subdued and subtle film, which seems destined to become one of Liam Neeson’s hidden gems.
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- February 11, 2009 / 9:00 pm
- Suite 101