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TAKEN, 2009
Movie Review

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TAKEN
Movie Review
Directed by Pierre Morel
Starring: Liam Neeson, Famke Janssen
Review by Matthew Toffolo



SYNOPSIS:

A former spy relies on his old skills to save his estranged daughter, who has been forced into the slave trade.

REVIEW:

What is unconditional love? It seems like our hero Bryan in TAKEN has a lot of love for his daughter. That's why he does whatever it takes to save her from those Albanian underground prostitute runners who took his daughter.

Bryan feels guilty for not being there a lot of the time for his now 17 year old daughter and wants to make it up to her. But it seems (to me at least) that Bryan is trying to make his daughter happy with him more than actually being a father to her. So what is love really? Seems like love in this film is about a man trying to make up for his guilt rather than actually loving someone.

Bryan is one of those guys who can't do anything half-assed. Even wrapping a birthday present for his daughter needs to be done with precision. Where in the past his current obsessions were about his career and job, now it's about his daughter. Every action he takes is about his daughter. He's retired but takes a job guarding a Pop singer because his daughter is interested in singing and you never know (of course in movie land you kind of know).

If you've watched the trailer and taken into context of the movie's title TAKEN, then you know his daughter is going to get kidnapped. And Bryan is going to do whatever it takes to find her and bring her back home.

And whatever it takes he does. He is so obsessed and blinded solely to find his daughter, that Bryan takes law into his own hands ala Dirty Harry with Steven Segal like martial arts ability. In fact, TAKEN could of easily been a Segal film if made in the 90s at it's definitely that type of film. But Liam Neeson is in the lead role attempting to bring respectability to this otherwise obvious action film.

Neeson is a really interesting actor. He can play the sweetest guy in the world (Kinsey, Love Actually) and then also play that character with the dark edge (Les MisÚrables, Batman Begins). He can turn from nice guy to a tough bastard in a split second. So the casting choice of him playing Bryan in TAKEN is excellent as it's a role perfectly suited for him.

This movie is also very similar to Polanski's FRANTIC, starring Harrison Ford. Both film's setting is in Paris and they deal with the kidnapping of a loved one. Ford loses his wife in Frantic and must do whatever it takes to get her back. But Ford is just an average guy whereas Neeson in TAKEN is a lean, mean muscle machine. In FRANTIC you are not sure if he'll ever see his wife again. But in TAKEN you know he will.

Man loves daughter. Man loses daughter. Man finds daughter. Basic 3 act structure.

We watch TAKEN to find out how he gets his daughter back and all of the cool interesting action sequences that occur. Part Mystery, part thriller, part action. We want to be entertained but are into the film because we want the question of HOW answered. How is he going to get is daughter back? And how many interesting obstacles is he going to face?

TAKEN is not the greatest movie in the world as it's a tad obvious. There has been enough movies about a tough man rescuing his vulnerable daughter. Been there, done that. What I like to see is a film about the daughter saving the father from Arabian prostitute runners. Now that would be an original film!

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