Women On Film – “Taken” – Susan Granger reviews

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This exploitive jaunt to the City of Lights is brutal, intense – and soon forgotten.

There’s no question that former government operative Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) is still at the top of his game, working as a Los Angeles security guard and saving the life of a pop starlet (Holly Vance). But when his estranged 17 year-old daughter, Kim (Maggie Grace), begs for permission to spend a few weeks on holiday in Paris with her friend Amanda (Katie Cassidy), he’s understandably reluctant, even though his bitter ex-wife (Famke Janssen) and her new, wealthy husband (Xander Berkeley) are in favor of the trip which, incidentally, involves following U2 all over Europe.

Mills’ worst fears are soon realized when kidnappers grab Kim while she’s talking to her father on the phone. “I will find you and I will kill you,” he threatens them.

Rushing to his daughter’s rescue, he discovers that she’s being held by thugs from an Albanian underground in an Eastern European prostitution ring and, if he’s going to save her, he has to outwit a deceitful French secret service agent (Mathieu Busson). Meanwhile, the clock is ticking because Mills’ intelligence contacts have warned him that he has only 96 hours to find Kim before she vanishes forever into a sex slavery underground that’s seemingly propelled by slobbering Saudi oil sheiks seeking nubile virgins.

Written by Luc Besson with Robert Mark Kamen and directed by Pierre Morel, whose previous outings helming the low-budget “District B-13” and photographing “Transporter” and “Unleashed,” this is an urgent, hyper-kinetic thriller, marred by shaky camerawork and disconcertingly quick cuts, plus a particularly gruesome torture sequence that reflects what Mills learned in the CIA, not to mention the rampant racial/ethnic stereotyping.

Known primarily for his dramatic roles in “Schindler’s List” and “Kinsey,” Irishman Neeson proves himself as an unrelenting, vigilante action hero. Although the perfunctory script utilizes few of his finely-toned acting abilities, he manages to convey some depth of character, even in the fight sequences.

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Taken” is a pulse-pounding 5. This exploitive jaunt to the City of Lights is brutal, intense – and soon forgotten.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.