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Genre Thriller
Year: 2008

Taken is a thriller that moves at a frenetic pace… as a former government agent takes revenge on the underground human trafficking organization that kidnapped her. He has a 96 hour window to find his missing daughter and uses his vast experience of secretive ops and network of contacts to track them down. Taken’s Pierre Morel (Banlieue 13) features as director, and it’s hard to believe this is only his second film. He and Besson proved that their writer-director partnership was gold in District 13, and they do it again - with Liam Neeson. Neeson has proved his dramatic ability time and time again, but its his physical presence and action man bravado that dominate Taken.

Morel’s credits extend to other action feature films such as War (aka Rogue Assassin), Danny the Dog and The Transporter, when he served as cinematographer. He and Besson have worked on productions since The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc (1999), and they obviously have good chemistry given their growing list of hits. Besson’s writing keeps Taken intriguing, despite its simple vendetta plot, while Morel induces the rush with non-stop spy tactics and action sequences. Taken is violent, but doesn’t look back on its bloody trail. All the killing is in aid of something noble, so the body count doesn’t really register. What does register is Bryan Mills’s relentless, calculated and cold-blooded disposition. He’s a killing machine with a one track mind and his experience has taught him to get things done quickly and efficiently. The unflinching gritty spy action is reminiscent of The Bourne Ultimatum with a darker palette and a blaze of violence counterbalancing the beauty and culture of Paris.

Neeson manages to balance the drama and the action so that we’re always convinced of his sincerity and constantly aware of his operative experience. There’s never a moment that one is confronted with the fact that Neeson is 56 years old, and probably to old to be doing the heroics. The character is introduced in the first 15 minutes and is unleashed on the enemy for a full hour of Parisian carnage. The setting is beautiful, the writing is solid, the story is gripping, the performances are convincing and the action sequences maintain a high intensity, which is both realistic and gritty. Taken also scores points for focusing on the action, without relying on gratuitous sex or bad language. The violence is frequent and intense, however its always easier to see the bad guys getting a taste of their own medicine and suffering lead poisoning in the process. It’s not going to get you thinking, but it will make you think twice about letting your sister or daughter travel alone.

The bottom line: Intense.

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