Movies like Taken usually disappoint me: The hero exacts vengeance after losing a loved one, a la Shooter, The Punisher and the Bourne series.
While I enjoy a good action flick, I fail to find the redemptive quality in another butt-kicking hero who has no concept of mercy or grace. I was not only pleasantly surprised with Taken, I was impressed.
Liam Neeson plays a retired government operative attempting to re-establish a relationship with his daughter after his job has forced him into a divorce. When his daughter is kidnapped in Paris, he rushes to France to rescue her from a criminal network. There he uncovers a kidnapping ring that sells women into prostitution. The rest of the movie focuses on his quest to find his daughter.
So what was it that separates this movie from the rest of the pack? For almost the first quarter of the movie, the plot focuses on Neeson’s love for his daughter and his willingness to sacrifice his life for her.
When he is forced to take desperate measures, he does so only with the goal of rescuing his daughter. Granted, he racks up quite the body-count in his search. Yet we are spared gratuitous scenes of Neeson exacting revenge when it does not help him in his ultimate goal, with the exception of perhaps one scene.
As recent films have attempted to capitalize on the choppy filming style the Bourne series implemented, many of them have failed miserably. Taken delivers with smooth and tasteful camera angles. Combined with Neeson’s adept acting, a compelling storyline, and some major villain-butt-kicking, Taken packs quite the punch.