Taken

Taken

Starring Liam Neeson and Maggie Grace
Directed by Pierre Moral
Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence, disturbing thematic material, sexual content, some drug references, and language
Appropriate for ages 16+

Liam Neeson is a retired ex-CIA operative that wants to get closer to his daughter (Grace).  When she is kidnapped in Paris by human traffickers, he puts his skills to full use in order to get her back before she disappears forever.

Historically, good films choose not to place their openings during Super Bowl weekend in order to not be humbly defeated by the number one watched TV event of the year.  So when a film written and produced by Luc Besson (Leon the Professional) is introduced with a spectacular trailer, I really thought that this trend would be broken.  Then I saw the movie.  Taken is not a bad film, but it is far from good.

What works in the film is the second act, where Neeson goes after the kidnappers by himself.  Neeson seems a bit miscast (I think Denzel Washington would have been a much better choice), but he is a capable actor and pulls the role off fine.  The revenge aspect of the film, which takes up most of the picture, is creative and well executed (no pun intended).  I do think an R rating would have been more appropriate and believable, but if you can watch a film where people don’t bleed when they get shot or stabbed, then you won’t have a problem here. 

Where the film fails is in the subplots of the first and third acts.  Since you can’t have a film that is all about the rescue, Besson added bits about Neeson and his ex-wife, ex-colleagues, and his desire to be a better father, when being a better father was the only element that should have been pursued.  With too much exposition, poor acting, and even worse directing, I think that the average person would get more enjoyment watching the trailer and then walking in 20 minutes late to the theater.  This way there is nothing to spoil the roller coaster rideC

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