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 Review of Taken

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Posts : 14
Join date : 2009-01-31

PostSubject: Review of Taken   Sun Feb 01, 2009 12:52 pm


Published: January 30, 2009

“Taken” stars a dour Liam Neeson as a big bad papa bear on the rampaging hunt for his baby cub, a virginal Los Angeles teenager — the first of many dubious plot points — who has been snatched while vacationing in Paris by hairy and scary Albanians who put her on the auction block. The movie was produced by the international hitmaker Luc Besson, who is best known for bankrolling action fare like the “Transporter” series and who shares writing credit on this exploitative throwaway with Robert Mark Kamen.

Mr. Besson, who made his reputation in the 1980s directing entertainments like “Subway,” was a central figure in a French movement called the cinéma du look, work that emphasized slick visuals, avoided ideology and politics, and paid closer heed to spectacle than to narrative. Although Mr. Besson now casts a wider net as a producer — he went somewhat upscale with the recent art house thriller “Tell No One” — the genre movies that carry his brand tend to be predictably homogeneous, with more or less the same look (glossy), sound (blaring) and pace (relentless). That more or less describes “Taken,” as well as innumerable action flicks from Hollywood to Hong Kong, of course, though this digitally dreary-looking movie also gleefully trades on the specter of American vigilante justice.

Directed by Pierre Morel, who kept bodies and scenes jumping in the superior “District B13,” another Besson factory production, “Taken” starts in low gear and almost immediately stalls out. Mr. Neeson’s character, Bryan Mills, a former operative for the Central Intelligence Agency (he calls himself a “preventer”), has hung up his black bag to repair his relationship with his long-neglected daughter, Kim (Maggie Grace). It’s a tough road for Bryan, particularly since he has to compete with Kim’s bitter mother (Famke Janssen, in a thankless role) and wealthy stepfather (Xander Berkeley). Happily for Bryan, nothing brings an estranged daughter back into the patriarchal fold faster than the threat of being served up like a bonbon to a salivating, knife-wielding sheik from the Republic of Cinematic Stereotypes.

The story, which opens in Los Angeles, perks up once it moves to the more dangerous environs of Paris, where legions of predators prowl for salable young things. By chance, or rather because of the shamelessly lazy filmmaking, Kim is on the phone with Bryan when the wolves break down her door, which allows him to tell off her kidnappers: “I will find you. And I will kill you.” He makes good on both promises and, in a repellent scene, he also tortures and electrocutes one of the bad guys, employing techniques he mastered while in the C.I.A. Swarthy Europeans and Arabs may still be the villains du jour at the movies, but the Americans, including those with inexplicable Irish accents, are, alas, catching up.

“Taken” is rated PG-13 (Parents strongly cautioned). A veritable tasting menu of death, courtesy of knives, fists, electricity and guns of various calibers.
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