Taken is about an ex-CIA agent who comes out of retirement to save his kidnapped daughter. I know, I know, it’s been done before. But so has “spy who loses his memory and goes head-to-head with bad guys in order to reveal his identity” – and I for one still love the Jason Bourne series. You don’t see these kinds of films for sweeping landscapes or heart-melting romance; you know the good guy’s going to come out on top; and you’re pretty sure at least one “good guy” is gonna be a double crosser. So why watch a film that’s so predictable and formulaic?
Because it’s fun.
Taken is an action film, and boy does it deliver on the action. Fancy cut-aways make the fight scenes seem a little choppy in that holy-mother-I-think-I-felt-that kind of way. Car chases and on-foot pursuits are a-plenty. And the spy tricks employed by Liam Neeson’s character, Bryan, aren’t overused movie cliches. In its sheer adrenaline-rush inducing fun, Taken is worth the $10 for a bootleg DVD Sunday matinee in Canarsie. (I’d pay the usual $17.50 for a seat in the city, but who has that kind of cash to blow on an hour and a half of amusement?)
My one little problem with the movie – and it isn’t really a problem per se, but an observation that slightly intrigues me – is that by the end of the movie, there is no evidence that Bryan’s daughter, Kim, has been sexually assaulted. Not that that’s usually a problem; I don’t go to movies waiting for someone to get raped. But she was kidnapped by a gang that specializes in trafficking women, and in the hour and twenty minutes preceding Kim’s rescue, Bryan sees dozens of girls who’ve been drugged and sold into prostitution (including Kim’s friend, Amanda, who is more sexually experienced than Kim). Kim’s only saving grace? She’s a virgin, so her kidnappers kept her alive/untouched for the highest bidder.
Bottom line: Taken is a great action film, but also mild abstinence propaganda.
Or maybe I’m just looking a little too deeply into the substance of the film? After all, it’s only an action movie.