What can save an action film that is weak on story and loaded with cheesy dialogue, you ask. Well, much to my surprise the answer to that question is Liam Neeson. Neeson is what makes this less a straight-to-DVD flick and more a fun, mindless action film.
Not since "Darkman" has Liam Neeson been asked to open a film by himself. Now "Darkman" did not do well but "Taken" has become the first surprise hit of 2009. The story is basically the male version of the Sally Field film "Not Without My Daughter", with ex-CIA agent Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) travelling to France to get back his daughter Kim (Maggie Grace), who has been kidnapped by a group of Albanians involved in the sex trade. This man will leave no stone unturned and no neck unbroken along the way.
In actuality the Luc Besson (Transporter 3) penned film is a rather average CIA action film but because the leading man (Neeson) infuses a bunch of reality and emotional depth into a role that is pretty one-dimensional, it becomes something more than it is. The smoke and mirrors used to accomplish this trick is Neeson's performance Neeson's smoldering intensity lends a lot to the role. As far as stories go there is really nothing to this one. The story is filled with your basic bad guys – the arrogant, wealthy Arab sheiks, the soulless American businessmen and some random Eastern European thugs. Not too many brain cells were used creating this plot.
We get caught up in Mills' attempt at vengeance against these depraved people. There is no mistaking in the film who are the bad guys and who is the good one. The line has been drawn in the sand and it is unmistakeable. Plenty of cheering him on ensues. We get so caught up that we overlook the holes in the plot as large as the Eiffel Tower. Though it is not much of a problem as most who go to these types of films don't require much intelligence in their plots
Though the action in the film is fast and furious (as is the film as it clocks in at just over 90 minutes) it is definitely done in a mild PG-13 kind of way. Plenty of punches are pulled or even not shown. So the women in the audience dragged along with their boyfriends to see the film won't spend the time watching it between their fingers.
It's your typical one man able to kill about 100 bad guys all on his own while trying to get his daughter back from human traffickers film but when your one guy is Liam Neeson then who's gonna quibble over a few silly moments.