Monday, March 9, 2009
As I watched the movie Taken, I found myself trying to shake the overwhelming sense of déjá vu. How many times have we seen a former CIA operative single-handedly take down a large and extremely immoral organization simply by brute force. And all along the way, the audience is forced to watch extremely unbelievable feats that even the most skilled agents could not pull off and then is expected to accept them as plausible.
Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) is at odds when his daughter pleads to for his permission for a European vacation with her good friend. In a "sort of retirement" Mills is trying to reconnect with his 17 year old daughter and it seems that signing off on this trip would be the best place to start. But he doubts this decision. After all that he has seen during his time spent in Afghanistan (and apparently everywhere else), Mills doesn't believe that a trip like this would be safe for two young girls. Of course, he is right and the two girls manage to get themselves kidnapped within the first several hours of their trip. Mills' daughter Kim (Maggie Grace) manages to get one call off to her father before she is taken away. From this garbled conversation, which Mills recorded and sent to one of his CIA buddies, not only was it "possible" to determine the dialect of the kidnappers, but also the name of the head kidnapper, what they are going to do with the girls after the kidnapping, and how long before these girls will never be found again. Yawn.
After making it over to France, Mills is able to pick up on the trail of the kidnappers, using Sherlockesque intellect, and kill several of them at a time á la Jason Bourne. If only real life CIA agents had these skills, we would never have to worry about finding a missing terrorist again. However, despite the ridiculousness of the film itself, it actually is a very well made ridiculous film. Liam Neeson is able to emit an anger so focused that I found myself worried for whoever found themselves in his path. And every action scene was so fast paced that I found myself on the edge of my seat, excited for what was going to happen next, even though I realized later that I already knew.
Absurd storyline aside, Liam Neeson's performance is what makes this movie, which is something that this skilled actor is able to do - bringing credibility to where you least expect it. Excluding Neeson, however, and I found myself watching a Bourne-less Jason Bourne action flick, or perhaps the latest Jason Stathem movie in which the lead character has only 24 hours to live unless he finds the villains who stole his heart. If only I had realized the irony of the Crank 2 preview that played before my feature film.