THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS! Taken stars Liam Neeson and I think this is his best role. He’s done a bunch of crappy movies in his time, but he can still be awesome as long as he’s in a good movie like this one.
The basic plot is that Neeson plays a man named Bryan Mills whose daughter goes to Paris and gets kidnapped and he has 96 hours to find her. The thought of finding someone who is a continent away seems pretty daunting. Mills used to be a spy for the CIA, but he retired to be closer to his daughter Kim. His wife has divorced him, taken custody of the daughter, and remarried to this rich old guy. I’ll go out and say it, the mother is just a bitch. After Mills saves the daughter, you might think that they throw the cliche in and have him and the ex-wife get back together again, but that doesn’t happen. That is a very good thing. I like that the movie doesn’t follow cliches.
The action is extremely well done. For instance, I hate the Jason Bourne style quick cut shaky cam technique. I think that it really takes away from the action as you can barely tell whats happening. The quick cuts also lack authenticity to the fights. Extremely long takes are hard to do, but are often some of the best kinds of shots, like in John Woo’s Hard Boiled (1992), the sequence in the hospital that lasts for minutes is considered the best part in the movie. Taken mixes short cuts and longer cuts, in a very good way. You can feel all of the hits. When Neeson hits somebody it isn’t just a random punch, you can see the precision he employs. Every punch or kick he throws is to incapacitate his target in the quickest and most effective manner.
Gunfights: What usually happens is Neeson is taking the guys out quietly with hand to hand, then a single shot gets fired off alerting the other guys to his presence, then all the shooting starts. The gunfights are done very well. The final aspect of the action is the driving sequences and this is my only real complaint about the movie. The driving scenes, are actually pretty boring. There is a chase or two, and there’s shooting involved, but they just sort of went on for too long, or maybe the scoring was the problem, but the driving scenes were far less enjoyable then the rest of the movie.
Mills’ precision and professionalism are shown exceptionally well and his lethality is outstanding. It is interesting to see how the character thinks. The way he finds his daughter is very smartly written and the movie has balls. The character is ruthless and unrelenting. When he is torturing the man who took his daughter, after he finds out what he knows, he lets him get electrocuted, until he dies, slowly. That is a good mark from me. Alot of other movies wouldn’t have had the guts to do that.
My favorite part of the movie happens right at the end. This moment really makes Taken stand apart from other action films for me. When the last guy is holding a knife to his daughter’s throat and Mills is pointing a gun at him, the man starts to negotiate and Mills just shoots him in the head. That is awesome! Most movies would have him throw down his gun and comply with the bad guy, but not Taken. The only other movie I have seen this done in was True Lies when Schwarzenegger does it to save his wife. It’s a little different, but basically the same.
Taken is a great crime-thriller. It has much better action than most thrillers, and a much better story than most action movies. I really appreciate that the movie went all out. It’s one of my favorite movies and just an all around great film.