Albanian terrorist sex trafficking young girls through Paris, check. An incredibly capable and pissed off father, check. A fully rewarding movie with excitement and danger around every turn… not so much. TAKEN has almost everything you could want in a high suspense action flick. I say almost because as was confirmed by other critics in a special midnight screening, ” it was good, but it could have been better”.
Liam Neeson stars as Bryan Mills, a recently retired CIA agent who wants nothing more than to make up for lost time and build a relationship with his now teenage daughter Kim (Maggie Grace). With some guilt ridden coercing from his bitter ex wife played by Famke Janssen, he reluctantly agrees to let her travel to Paris for a fun summer adventure. And as you might have guessed if you’ve seen the trailer, that’s when things go terribly wrong.
Neatly packaged at 93 minutes, the film definitely has it moments of shock and adrenaline that would rival anything on TV’s 24. Mills is a one man killing machine that could give Jason Bourne a run for his money. Neeson may be getting a little long in the tooth, but he yields a genuine gravitas to the role and plays the kind of father that you hope still exists in today’s society. In fact, a better title for the film would be, Don’t F*ck with my Daughter, OR ELSE!
Director Pierre Morel does a good job overall, but fails to properly close the deal. Perhaps he needs a little more time in the assistant director chair before making the leap to Action movie guru. Don’t blame him completely though, because the story comes courtesy of those loopy writers Luc Besson and Mark Kamen. Please guys, don’t make this into a franchise and kill it like you did with the Transporter.
For example, there is a car chase scene that was edited with such frenetic pace, all you could tell is that three vehicles were destroyed. Here’s a tip for all you up and coming directors, when filming a chase sequence, make sure that all the vehicles aren’t the same color. To further bone up on your skills check out The French Connection, Bullit, Ronin or The Matrix Reloaded. Also the ending has that squeaky clean “everything is going to be alright” message. In reality, if you went through half the scenarios this kidnapped girl endures, your therapy bills would be through the roof.
Maybe it’s good old fashioned American bloodlust, but if asked to grade this film I would saddle it with a soild B+. It has everything you need, but not everything you want.