I don't know you who you are. I don't know what you want. If you're looking for a ransom, I can tell you, I don't have money. But what I do have are a very particular set of skills acquired over a very long career in the shadows, skills that make me a nightmare for people like you. If you let my daughter go now, that will 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."With these chilling words to a member of a band of kidnappers, former government operative Bryan Mills begins the longest 96-hours of his life - and the hunt for the fearsome organization that has taken his daughter Kim.Mills had only recently given up his government career as what he calls, a "preventer" - "I prevented bad things from happenings," he says - to be near Kim, who lives with Bryan's ex-wife Lenore and her new husband. To make ends meet, Bryan joins some former colleagues for special security details (like guarding a pop diva), but most of his time and energy are spent re-connecting with Kim.Bryan's familial goal is nearly derailed when Kim requests his permission to spend time in Paris with a friend. All too aware of the dangers that could lie ahead for Kim in a foreign land, Bryan says no, but Kim's disappointment leads him to very reluctantly relent.Bryan's worst fears are realized when Kim and her friend Amanda are suddenly abducted - in broad daylight - from the Paris apartment at which they've just arrived. Moments before Kim is dragged away by the as yet unseen and unknown assailants, she manages to phone Bryan, who begins to expertly piece together clues that will take him to the darkness of Paris's underworld, and to the City of Light's plushest mansions. He will face nightmares worse than anything he experienced in black ops - and let nothing and no one stop him from saving his daughter.
What could be a skillful but ordinary action flick gets a surprising emotional heft from the presence of Liam Neeson as the hero. Bryan Mills (Neeson) has given up his career as a spy to form a relationship with his estranged teenage daughter--but when, on a trip to Paris, she's kidnapped by slavers, Mills uses all his connections and skills to turn the city of lights upside down and rescue her. Like most of the movies that writer/producer Luc Besson has a hand in (such as La Femme Nikita
, The Transporter
, and many other French action movies), Taken
drips with lurid violence (a bit toned-down to get a PG-13 rating, but there's still plenty of it), deranged sentimentality, and stereotypes of all kinds. But this doesn't stop his movies from being effective thrill-rides, and Taken
is no exception. Taken
pays just enough attention to the illusion of procedure--making it seem like Mills knows all the right steps to track down his daughter--that the movie cheerfully seduces your suspension of disbelief, despite many plot holes and scenes where Mills doesn't get scratched despite bullets flying in all directions or pretends to be a French policeman despite not speaking French or even adopting a French accent. What holds it all together is Neeson; his gravitas and emotional availability make his character--the usual action fantasy of impossible competence and righteous fury--somehow seem real and relatable. --Bret Fetzer
Stills from Taken (Click for larger image)