Review: Taken Not Exceptional But Works

"Just enough edge to make it a passable time at the movies."

 

Eh, not bad. That's all I can muster for this decent Liam Neeson thriller. I was worried it was going to be atrocious -- hasn't this movie been delayed forever? -- but I didn't dislike it. Part of the reason why is that I like Liam Neeson a lot. I think most of us are on board the Neeson Express, no? Why doesn't he get more (and better) parts?

This is a fairly absorbing thriller at times. Much of that can be attributed to the Neeson factor -- he gives the movie credibility. There's just enough solid work by the filmmakers and other actors as well.

Plot? Liam Neeson is Bryan Mills, a retired CIA "preventer." We know he's taken part in operations in South America, the Middle East and, oh yeah, Alaska. His old CIA buddies wax nostalgic about his antics. We know the drill. The movie is setting up what a badass he used to be. We've seen the trailers. We know what's coming. His daughter gets kidnapped. Mills has 96 hours to save her. He's going to walk over more than a few dead bodies to get to her. He may live. He may die. But damn it, he's going to save his daughter.

Director Pierre Morel deserves some credit. We've seen movies like Taken before. Yet, I still went "Oh!" a couple times and "Ow!" a few others. There's violence in this film but it isn't overly gruesome.

In its own way, this is a satisfying picture. It has just enough edge and semblance of quality to make it a passable time at the movies. There is at least one really shocking (and welcomed) scene where Mills ruthlessly shoots an innocent person. And here's the thing: I believed it. It worked. It made sense. There's another good scene where Mills impersonates a corrupt official. This act goes on longer than I expected, to the point where I was surprised when he finally takes off his mask.

The performances aren't bad either. I already mentioned Neeson, but there's also Maggie Grace as his daughter. I was struck by how young she looks and acts in this film, particularly after watching her play the older, bitchier Shannon on Lost. Then I realized, Oh yeah, she's an actress! Here she plays a very naive, overly sweet 17-year-old and it's totally believable.

Should you see this movie? Look, these days there aren't many good options out there as far as new movies go. What do you have to lose? I'll put it this way: If you're debating between Paul Blart and this, see Taken.

Grade: C+

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Dre writes two times a week for Film.com. Email him!