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Taken Review

March 10th, 2009

Pierre Morel’s “Taken” is a giddy revenge fantasy with plenty of action to keep the average viewer entertained.  There’s nothing here that will blow you away, but there’s plenty to satisfy you if you’re already a fan of the genre.

Some movies are built to be standard fodder for a pre-existing viewer base.  In this case, half of humanity is in luck – the viewer base is “men.”

“Taken” is part revenge fantasy, part action romp.  Liam Neelson is a powerful choice as a leading man and his casting sets the role for the entire film.  I’ve seen a shift in this lately – action movies tend to shift between the gritty (the Bourne trilogy, the new 007 flicks) and the glam (Transporter, Wanted.)   This film attempts to strike a balance between the two, and while the plot falls short the tone goes the distance.

First off, let me say that if you don’t already like action movies in all of their half-acted, semi-plotted, jaw-dropped wonder then you won’t enjoy this film.  On the other hand, if you get that deliciously satisfying feeling in the pit of your stomach when a bad guy gets his comeuppance, then you’ll get a kick out of this.  Having a daughter stolen out from under you it every man’s terror – and even if you aren’t a father, you can appreciate it – and Liam Neelson does add an emotional, classy element to the action fodder.

Neelson’s acting is really the element that separates this film from the rest of the pack.  Without his presence, this film would have definitely been lowered a letter grade.  Casting an older man (mid-fifties) with considerable acting ability and a really kickass voice.  He performs the action in a relatively believable manner, at least for a movie primarily about kicking asses.  What he brings to the film also accentuates the film’s flaws – indeed, he’s much better than the script.  I wonder just how his agent pitched this to him, except that it’d be nice for his image to do an action flick.  He delivers each line excellently, which outlines the problems with the film’s script.  A word to the wise: don’t listen to the dialogue, just listen to the Neelson’s James-Bond-meets-Batman voice.

This film lands somewhere between the Bourne films and Transporter on the scale of believability; Liam Neelson is (par for the course) an unbelievable ass-kicking machine whose only purpose is to wreak unholy vengeance on those who have wronged him.  If you can get behind the morally ambiguous plot and not expect too much from standard action fodder, you will walk away satisfied.

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