Monday, July 6, 2009

Taken (2008)

Directed by Pierre Morel. Don't let this one fool you because it's much better than you think it is. As soon as it's over, it's out of your life. A year or so from now, you won't even remember if you've seen it. You'll be at someone's house. "Want to see a movie?" they'll ask, pulling this one down with a finger off a shelf of DVDs, "Have you seen 'Taken'? It's pretty exciting."

"Um, I don't know," you'll say. "Liam Neeson. What is he, like a cop?"

"He's a retired CIA guy who's disillusioned with the global insensitivity of humankind," your friend explains, "and discourages his young daughter from going on a European vacation with only her female friend. She goes anyway, and he has the cosmic misfortune of hearing them kidnapped in Paris as she is calling home to check in with him. And his rescue adventure begins."

"That sounds like a hundred movies," you'll say. "And who gives a shit about Liam Neeson. I'll pass."

"No, don't." Your friend should say. "Most of the time in movies like this the main character is more a prop designed to set off explosions and car chases but Liam Neeson plays a real character, this guy named Bryan Mills, who has a genuine psychological struggle. His job was everything to him -- it tore his family apart and now he's trying to put that back together again. It's made him hate the world, but not only won't that solve his problems, it doesn't make him one-dimensional and either dark and hateful or wacky and silly. He's compelling. I wish this movie had started a franchise of annual sequels where his stupid daughter just gets herself into dumb situations where she's kidnapped annually and he has to rush off and save her. There'd be like 'Taken Again,' and 'Taken Still One More Time' and 'Taken For Good' and 'Taken by a Jamaican' and 'Canadian Taken' and so on.

"O.K.," you'll remember, "I have seen this, but pop it in anyway. One of the things I remember about it is how any car he needs to use just happens to have the keys in it, which totally pissed me off the third time it happens, but I'll see it again anyway because there like four or five awesome parts."

And you will like it a lot.