Starring: Liam Neeson, Maggie Grace, Famke Janssen and Arben Bajraktaraj
Director: Pierre Morel
Rating: Eight of Ten Stars
When his teenaged daughter (Grace) is kidnapped by a white slavery and prostitution ring, a retired CIA wetworks specialist (Neeson) puts all his skills to use to get her back... and to kill those who harmed her.
"Taken" is the feel-good fantasy movie of 2009. It's a movie about a father who is trying to make up for lost time with his nearly-grown daughter--and who manages to not only save her life but to make her fondest dreams come true through a series of coincidences established in the film's first act and resolved in the denouement--but it's also a movie where one man brings down a vicious crime syndicate and exposes police corruption at the very highest levels. I've also rarely seen a film with so many people so richly and obviously deserving of death as the ones dispatched by the hero in this film.
With well-drawn and believable characters and a script that is fast-paced and finely tuned, "Taken" is a must-see for lovers of action films--and for anyone who wants to see some truly scummy bad guys get dispatched by a James Bond-like character who is fighting to save someone he truly loves. Neeson is fantastic in the part of a man who isn't especially violent, but who has no problem with killing bad guys when it comes to it. (There is a particularly neat scene that demonstrates exactly how Neeson's character respects life and tries to protect the innocents: He is in the middle of dispatching the first rung of the white slavery operation, but he takes steps to avoid harming some construction workers who may or may not be innocent bystanders.)
As I post this review, "Taken" is airing on HBO in relatively heavy rotation. If you are a subscriber, check the listings and check out this movie.
(A word of caution for parents: I was surprised to note that the film is only rated PG-13. With the level of violence, drug use, and general plot of the film, I would have assume it was R. You should definitely watch the film before you let your kids at it and decide if you think it's appropriate for them. The MPAA is erratic as ever....)