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.