A former CIA man relies on his training to find his attractive virginal daughter when she’s kidnapped during a trip to watch a U2 concert in Paris. Of course this isn’t a film about instant karmic revenge for having terrible taste in pop music, but instead is a high octane race-against-time action thriller where Liam Neeson (Bryan Mills) has to find aforementioned daughter and fight to get her back from unsavoury sex traffickers... before it’s too late.
The early scenes depicting the somewhat estranged relationship between Mills, who dotes on his daughter, are plausible as is the slight hostility between Mills and his divorced wife. In fact just enough time is spent introducing us to the familial relationship before the real action begins and the adrenalin really starts to pump. The former CIA man doesn’t waste much time in getting to work and his advanced surveillance and martial art skills are soon displayed for all to see.
The fight scenes are foremost of note being excellent, well choreographed and packing the same brutal, but technically and visually appealing punch as say the Bourne Trilogy. I mean despite his advanced years (born in 1958) the tall athletic presence of Liam Neeson makes him every bit the believable hard man and every bit as convincing as Matt Damon was as Jason Bourne.
Anyway, at its heart Taken is essentially enthralling American propaganda (albeit by a French writer and director) that suggests Europe is dangerous and those damn French who were kind of against the Yanks in the last war on terror are corrupt and immoral and that you definitely shouldn’t let your virgin daughter visit because they’ll let her be trafficked to rich Arabs by even nastier Albanians. Furthermore Taken offers the familiar real-world argument for the need for men like Neeson/Mills existing in the first place and by extension the need for institutions like the CIA. This film simultaneously plays on our very tangible and paranoid fears of the unknown and especially on the anxiety which parents have for their innocent children being killed or sold into slavery or maybe just listening to U2?
Ultimately, Taken shouts an age old message... when young virgin girls are taken and the authorities are corrupt you need heroes like Mills ... men of action to fight back.
If you like a little propaganda, thrillers and action then you’ll love this film.
Review by Tom Siggins.
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