Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Review and Analysis of "Taken (2008)"

I don't know who you are. I don't know what you want. If you are looking for ransom, I can tell you I don't have money. But what I do have are a very particular set of skills, skills I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you. If you let my daughter go now, that'll be the end of it. I will not look for you. I will not pursue you. But if you don't, I will look for you, I will find you, and I will kill you.

                                                                                                                           -Bryan Mills

Films involving secret agents given particular assignments to complete have been a huge trend. Hollywood has produced major success franchises out of this genre with "The Bourne Series" and not to mention the most famous of all "The James Bond films". Director Luc Besson has been famous for directing action movies which are known to be visually rich. He has also made some over the top action movies with famous casts involved which have nevertheless been slick and fun to watch. His 2008 film "Taken" of which he is a producer is no exception. With an adrenaline filled performance by Liam Neeson, the movie proves that plot holes and unrealistic action can still be fun to watch if its done the right way. Also, Neeson set the future prospects for becoming a great action hero alongside Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham to name a few.
The plot follows a retired CIA agent Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson), who during his service period had a hard time balancing between his personal and professional life which resulted in a divorce from his wife Lenora (Famke Janssen) who took custody of their daughter Kim (Maggie Grace). He spends his retirement days with his retired CIA friends taking on small assignments from time to time to earn some quick money. He visits her daughter frequently due a father's unconditional love but always finds himself at odds with his wife's rejection and her new husband, Stuart (Xander Berkeley). Things take a turn when Kim plans a trip to Paris by following U2's band, despite Bryan's disapproval of the idea that the place is not safe for young girls travelling alone. However, due to aggressive support from Lenore he agrees on certain conditions to Kim that she stays in constant touch with him. When the girls touchdown to Paris, they are kidnapped by a group of Albanian people who are in the business of women trafficking. These events force Bryan to get back into action and rescue his daughter within a span of 96 hours before she disappears from his reach forever.

                                            " I figured she wants to be a singer"

And the pacing starts to kick in. We see Neeson transform from a normal person to a full blown action hero who would do anything to get his daughter back. The action scenes were so intense that it made the veteran actor transform himself into an action film star in the film industry. The rest of the film follows Bryan picking up clues one by one and eliminating threats along the way till he finally reaches the man who bought her daughter through a slave auction and eventually saving her. I have to say that some of the scenes in this film were actually intense and disturbing. One of the scenes which stands out to me was Bryan's conversation with Kim on the phone while the kidnappers are in the house searching for her. Its very hard for a father to convince her daughter and to make her accept the harsh reality that she's about to be kidnapped and there is nothing she can do about it. Its moments like this in a movie which make a routine kidnapping scene in a feel threatening. The other thing which I found disturbing about the film was the situations and themes it was trying to explore. Women trafficking has been a very big issue in our world and its hard to believe the fact that even after so many agencies existing today, the issue is still prevalent and at large. Though the movie does not show the issues on an intense level as it was an action genre one which mostly focused on action sequences, the small things which it did show from time to time on the treatment of young girls and their condition was enough to make me feel uncomfortable. Not to mention the fact that you want the bad guys to get what they deserve by Bryan due to their inhuman nature. That's what makes the film intense, because you want bad things to happen to the bad guys even though they don't have much character development. The audience wants them to suffer because they made their victims suffer and Bryan does a good job at it.
                                            "Oh my God, Dad. They're coming."

Which brings is to the action. Its done with pure finesse. Bryan not only shoots, he breaks bones, hits vital organs, cracks necks and does everything you expect a veteran CIA agent to do. The hand combat is extremely brutal and well done. However, the action is also very over the top considering the fact Bryan single-handedly kills 20-30 bad guys without getting shot or stabbed once, except for the final fight. However, the movie is not to be taken seriously for its action sequences since they are there for fun and give an audience a sense of payback to the bad guys for the things they were doing. The action in this movie is supposed to give the audience satisfaction without any logic or thought involved. If the movie had not focused on the nature of kidnapping, it may not have been as much enjoyable and it could have turned into a Saturday popcorn flick. Another aspect which I liked about Bryan's character was his cold blooded nature when it came to finding his daughter. For people familiar with Fox's hit TV Series "24", Bryan depicted similarities with the character of Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) who would do whatever it takes to complete a specific objective no matter how brutal if he was satisfied that the end would justify the means. One scene involved Bryan shooting the wife of one of his friend who worked for the french government and who was involved with the Albanians to get him to cooperate. Even though he knew his wife was innocent he had to take drastic and extreme measures for ensuring the safety of his daughter. These scenes show how life for people like them are tough and how they have to choose between the morality of the acts they do in everyday life to get what they want even though they may not like it.  The scene of Bryan torturing one of the main terrorists, Marko was also satisfying and felt complete and showed how things which are so disturbing to do are so easily done by agents like them. 

                                                        "Where is this girl?"

The movie is what you expect in an action genre. Also, for people who watch movies for thoughtful reasons, it sends a message on the topic of women trafficking and shows how things like these happen everyday. However, the action is not to be taken seriously which are done for the purpose of fun and entertainment and some of the audiences will also derive a sort of "guilty pleasure" from it due to Liam Neeson's good performance. Sit back and enjoy this one, because once the action starts it never let goes until the finale.

My rating-80% 


  1. Saw this movie just now..........if i was asked to describe my experience of this movie in three words then they would possibly be awesome, awesome and awesome....
    loved this movie and Liam Neeson, this Irish actor is simply fantastic with his "set of skills".
    Once more hats off for your review sir, your reviews seriously compels me to watch a movie as soon as i can. Now, i would like to request you to review a movie i.e. "A Beautiful Mind" only if you find it upto the mark for the job.
    Thank You...:)

  2. Definitely. Its always a pleasure to review for my readers :) ... "A Beautiful Mind" review coming up soon. And thank you once again for your feedback. Take care.