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 smouldering 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.
-Black Ops Field Manual
-Le Making Of
-Inside Action: Side by Side Comparisons
-Trailer of Notorious
Taken 2 directed by Olivier Megaton:
Taken starring Liam Neeson was pretty much a surprise success in 2008. It featured Liam Neeson as an ex-CIA agent whose daughter is kidnapped and he goes to the ends of the earth and kicks plenty of butt to get her back. Now we fast forward a bit and we see a kinder gentler side of Neeson character. He is playing the Dad role…that is until the bad guys that he tangled with and did not kill from the first film are back for some revenge. Once that part starts it felt like I was in a little bit of a time warp as it was like reliving the first movie all over again.
Reliving it but almost in a parody type way. Olivier Megaton’s (Columbiana, Transporter 3) Taken refers back to the first in a funny (whether intentionally or unintentionally) way. There are a couple of scenes that if you saw the first one will be funny. I especially enjoyed all the tongue in cheek stuff about Brian (Liam Neeson – The Grey, Love Actually) being super protective of his daughter, Kim (from television’s Lost).
All this is fine and dandy and the film goes along in the first part being entertaining. Then as soon as the kidnapping and action portion of the story begins it becomes a little tired and been there seen that. I mean, putting the same three characters in the exact same situation with the same Albanians chasing them is a little boring and really beyond believability, no? The whole thing felt forced to me. No chances are taken. The same super spy stuff is used. I mean, the skills Brian has are incredible but we’ve seen him do it all before. A film, even a sequel, has to have a raison d’être and I don’t see this one’s. In other words, I don’t see any originality in the story or any point where it is not predictable. Then to top it off the ending is completely rushed. I pretty much blinked and we were there. What? What happened? That’s it? These were all questions I found myself asking because all of a sudden, very quickly it was over.
What is good is that we get to see a little bit of the beautiful city of Istanbul (Turkey) with its spires, water and orange-tiled roofs. As an aside what is the deal with every action film featuring people chasing each other on roofs? Several films lately have done that. I guess we are tired of on foot or car chases and they are trying to shake it up a bit.
Secondly, the action scenes are good. Like the first film. They are done in a different from typical Hollywood film way with less gore and up close violence. There is a focus on choreography and efficacy of movement. Despite his age, Liam Neeson pulls it off well.
Bottom line, is that this is not a terrible film but one that really did not have anything special about it.
- Black Ops Field Manual and Kill Counter
- Tools of the Trade
- Deleted and Extended Scenes
- Alternative Ending
- FX Piece