So I watched Taken…
With it being father’s day and all, I thought I’d do a review about Taken which is not only an awesome movie but also has my favourite movie dad (To see a complete list of my favourite movie dads click here.). Now before the unimaginative, unnecessary sequels, Luc Besson, Pierre Morel and Liam Neeson gave us a gem that changed the face of action.
Okay, basic plot: Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) is a retired government operative who is trying to rekindle his relationship with his daughter Kim. When Kim is kidnapped while on vacation in Paris, Bryan sets off on a mission to bring her back home and kill anybody that stands in his way.
I think this movie’s success must be something of a double-edged sword to Liam Neeson. On the one hand he does an amazing job and this launches his career as an action star; on the other hand it results in him being typecast in every movie after this as an older guy killing people. It’s tough but I’m sure the paycheques help. Honestly, Liam Neeson shines in this role and not just because seeing him punch people in the throat is one of the greatest achievements of the action genre in the last decade. The thing that makes Bryan Mills so interesting is that he’s actually a mild-mannered softie. The first parts of the movie show us his meticulous, cautious nature and how much he loves his daughter. Now when he dives into the savagery and intensity needed to get his daughter back, a great piece of juxtaposition is created. Since we’ve had a chance to connect with Bryan before the violence; when he starts kicking ass, it means so much more to us.
Plus this movie has a genuine quality to it – it feels gritty and real and a large part of this is due to a well-written script with captivating dialogue. Now I know everyone goes crazy for the speech where Bryan says he has a “very particular set of skills”. This speech is amazing and it’s become so entrenched in pop-culture that I’m sure it will show up on some lists of classic movie speeches as time goes on; but it’s not my favourite piece of dialogue in this movie. It isn’t even my second favourite piece of dialogue.
The line I loved most in this movie, isn’t a spectacular one but it’s delivered with such desperation and potency by Neeson that it really stuck out in my mind. Mills is talking to Jean-Claude and Jean-Claude is trying to convince him not to make too much of a ‘mess’ and Bryan just turns around and says, “I will tear down the Eiffel Tower if I have to!” It’s just such an emotive line and perfectly displays the lengths to which Bryan is willing to go to, to save his daughter.
The action in this movie is also amazing. I think it takes the style pioneered in The Bourne Trilogy and elevates it to a whole new level. The fight scenes feel real with minimum choreography. Bryan is skilled but he isn’t some untouchable ninja. Against unskilled opponents he dominates but when he faces a challenge you can see the struggle and determination he has to put in to winning the fight. He has a very organic fighting style that feels like an extension of his personality.
Overall, this movie is a great piece of film. It takes its time establishing characters then leads you on a high-paced ride full of action. It’s definitely worth a watch. 8/10