Taken – “I believe you.  But, that won’t save you.”  This action thriller from 2008 is straight, aggressive, and to the point.  You get so involved in each scene that you don’t even notice that an hour and a half has gone by.  I thought this movie was about 30 minutes long until I checked the clock.  Liam Neeson does an excellent job switching from father to CIA operative and the steps he uses to find his daughter are logical and flowing.  Granted some “convenient” occurances aid in his success, but at least the “unbelievable” is kept to a minimum.  The truly enjoyable part of this film is watching a father saving his daughter and exacting revenge on the bad guys as most people wished happened in real life.  It’s swift, painful, and brutal which is what any father would want if it were his daughter.  Critics didn’t care for the film rating it 58% at Rotten Tomatoes, but the fans liked it at 83% and gave it 4 stars at Amazon.com.

Plot – Bryan (Liam Neeson) is a retired CIA operative trying to rebuild a relationship with his daughter, Kim (Maggie Grace).  His ex-wife and wealthy new husband seem to upstage his attempts, even at her birthday.  The next day, Bryan is to meet Kim for lunch and his ex-wife shows up.  They surprise him with his daughter’s plan to go to France/Europe with her 19 year old friend Amanda, which he is against.  After being badgered, he relents giving his daughter an international cell phone to contact him.  Upon arriving, they get to the apartment meeting a handsome stranger.  While getting situated, Bryan calls Kim because she hasn’t called him.  While talking, she notices men entering and kidnapping Amanda.  Bryan gives her instructions to help aid him as she’s being taken.  Bryan arrives in France and surveys the scene for clues.  Then, he meets an old friend from the French Intelligence, who is now a desk bureaucrat, and gets a tip where to start, but warns him to keep it quiet.  He gets to a brothel at a construction site and discovers a prostitute with a major clue that leads him to the kidnappers.  Posing as French agent, he invades the “conversion house” for kidnapped girls and takes one of the kidnappers into a room for brutal torture to get information.  He gains the information needed to discover who is trafficking the girls.  Getting into the mansion, he finds where the slave auction going on and finds his daughter, but is captured.  Able to escape, he finds out who bought her and traces him down……

Commentary – Being that the movie is so straight-forward, I tried not to reveal too much of the critical scenes.  The movie taps into a deep fear of any parent that someone would take their child and the naivety of cruelty in the world.  Reality is that we can not do what Bryan does and, therefore, the emotional grab is the unnerving.  The movie has excellent action and suspense, but lacks the “twist” at the end.  But, as mentioned before, you’ll be so sucked into the story that you’ll never even notice.  This is a thrill ride movie and the excitement is not in the ending, but in the journey.  So, don’t worry about trying to figure it out and stay focused on what you’re watching.  You won’t even have time for a bathroom break because you don’t want to miss anything.

Trivia – The martial arts style used by Neeson in the film is called Nagasu Do…a hybrid styling borrowing Judo, Aikido, and Ju Jitsu.  Liam Neeson was trained by former Special Air Service soldier, Mick Gould, for handling weapons and combative scenes.  The curved knife used in the final fight scene is a karambit.  It’s an Indonesian/Malasian weapon with a fingerhole in the handle making it very difficult to disarm.

** Just click the images to check out “Taken” at Amazon.com **


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