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Taken (10/10)

by Tony Medley

Wow! Director Pierre Morel delivers a non-stop, high tension thriller that never lets up.

Bryan (Liam Neeson) is a former CIA operative who has retired to be close to his 17-year-old daughter, Kim (Maggie Grace). She wants to go to Paris with her friend, Amanda (Katie Cassidy). Bryan knows it’s a hard world out there, but reluctantly lets her go. She’s kidnapped by some Albanian white slavers and Bryan flies to Paris to find her.

Neeson is an unlikely action hero, and this adds to the mystique as he uses all the skills he has honed as a CIA operative to seek out and punish the bad guys as he tries to find Kim. There are bodies all over the place. What I liked about it is that there’s not a lot of time spent in contemplation. Nor is there any hint of giving in to political correctness. The bad guys include Arab sheiks and Frenchies without scruple, and Bryan uses everything at his disposal, including torture, to find his daughter.

While Neeson and Grace give fine performances, this is a director’s film and young Pierre Morel was up to the task. This is a high-paced film of remarkable tension and rhythm. Morel never lets the energy lag. There aren’t any scenes of people contemplating their navels. Once Bryan learns of his daughter’s abduction, he is in constant action. Although Neeson didn’t do the highly dangerous stunts, like jumping off a bridge, he did do all the fight scenes himself.

An added plus is the location, Paris. Morel shot all over the city on real locations.

Lots of people have seen the trailer, but here is what Bryan tells the kidnapper as he is taking Bryan’s daughter:

I don’t know who you are. I don’t know what you want. If you’re looking for a ransom, I can tell you, I don’t have money. But what I do have are a very particular set of skills (sic) acquired over a very long career in the shadows, skills that make me a nightmare for people like you. If you let my daughter go now, that will be the end of it. I will not look for you. I will not pursue you. But if you don’t, I will look for you, I will find you. And I will kill you.

OK, so maybe Bryan doesn’t know how to construct a sentence and that the verb “are” should be “is,” so that it agrees with the noun “set,” not the noun “skills” and should, therefore, be singular (“What I have is a set of skills…). Grammatical or not, Bryan is not someone you want on your bad side.

Kidnapping and sexual slavery are rampant in the world. While this is not on the scale of “Iska’s Journey” (2008), which showed how young girls are kidnapped and sold into slavery in eastern Europe, it should be an eye-opener for parents who are thinking about letting their young daughters go abroad without adult supervision.

This is a highly entertaining movie, and I’m not going to be the one to tell him how to speak.

January 19, 2009