Taken Reviews

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Super Reviewer
½ June 16, 2009
Liam Neeson is a complete bad ass mfer in this move!! The worst part about this movie is the premise, as a father of two girls it scares the living daylights out of me. This and the movie Trade with Kevin Kline .. i need nothing else to scare the shit out of me.
Super Reviewer
February 27, 2009
A fun, adrenaline rush of a thriller about a former CIA agent (Liam Neeson) whose daughter is kidnapped in Paris and sold into the sex slave world, forcing him back into action to rescue her. Neeson brings a raw edge to a new breed of government agent, always cool and collected, and it is fun to watch him in action. Despite Maggie Grace being totally miscast as a 16 year old when she looks to be about 25 in real life, the acting is overall pretty solid. While the ending left me wanting more, the movie is well plotted and executed, thanks in large part to clever choreographed fight scenes and Neeson's stellar turn. Highly re-watchable and definitely recommended.
Super Reviewer
January 14, 2010
Both incredible and terrible, "Taken" will always hold the titles of 'over-hyped." I really don't understand the hype of this film, sure the action is fun to watch, but the film has such a thing plot that it makes it pretty laughable at times. As a man's daughter is taken, he seeks vengeance on the people who took her, blah blah blah, we have seen all this before, but the fact that it can surprisingly keep you intrigued is what sells it for me. Liam Neeson makes the film worth while, as he pretty much does for any film he is in and the quick cuts in each action sequence make it very kinetic and heart-pumping. It is definitely not a film to watch over and over again, but overall, it's a fun popcorn flick. "Taken" is the epitome of the term "Hollywood," and it plays it safe in every aspect. Fun and exciting, but bland at heart.
Super Reviewer
½ March 13, 2008
A retired ex-secret serviceman is trying to make amends with his estranged daughter when she is kidnapped in Paris by white slave traders. Taken is on paper a very straightforward, almost tired sounding idea that you've heard a thousand times before. It's an unpretentious action thriller that plays out like a revenge story, except there is a goal outside of vengeance; a father's unstoppable wish to protect his daughter from harm. The first 30 minutes is the usual predictable and slightly clumsy exposition, but once Neeson springs into action it becomes an altogether different beast. Neeson is not the kind of action hero who looks like he'd shy from a fight for the fear of mussing his hair. Instead we get an ageing Irish terminator cutting a swathe through the kind of evil bastards even a guilt-ridden white liberal such as myself feels a tingle of pleasure to see brutally disposed of. The appearance of Holly Valance is a little embarrassing and sits about as comfortably as pink frosting atop a T-bone steak and made me suspect that her agent beat the producer at cards the night before shooting but otherwise it does exactly what is says on the tin. Plotless in almost a pleasing way, this is kind of like James Bond going rogue except "this time it's personal"; there are no stereotypical terrorists threatening our fat cat white Christian way of life, no shadowy conspiracies or megalomaniacs, just a single-minded feast of adrenaline fuelled action that I really enjoyed. One of my future guilty pleasures and no mistake...
Super Reviewer
March 11, 2013
I dislike traditional action flicks, and this is a pretty traditional one. Not much to like here, the story isn't especially gripping and it even gets cheesy at points.
Daniel Mumby
Super Reviewer
February 19, 2013
In my review of Unknown 18 months ago, I spoke about how actors can often have a second, very different career after their initial fame or recognition has passed. In addition to the examples I listed in that review, along with all of John Travolta's comebacks, we can now add Liam Neeson to the list of actors whose later career is taking a very different shape to the roles which made him famous.

Taken is the result of two growing trends in filmmaking: older protagonists as a reaction to a market saturated with youth, and weighty actors downsizing into trashy B-movies. Even considering how clichéd the premise is, it should be fun to see the star of Schindler's List and Michael Collins run around beating up men half his age. But what starts as a fun if overly familiar thriller eventually descends into something a lot more nasty, so that the end result is just plain and simple rubbish.

The film starts fine enough, with a number of scenes which set up our main characters and make them likeable. The characters are all painted in very broad strokes, with the likeability coming from the screen presence of the actors rather than the lines they are delivering. The setup is clichéd and contrived, revolving around a retired special agent who has family problems, and whose friends are also retired agents who moonlight at bodyguards. But Liam Neeson and Famke Janssen both have enough screen presence to make us feel engaged, if not impressed.

The other big asset of Taken is its pacing. It is paced as a B-movie should be, clocking in at just under 90 minutes and moving from scene to scene like it is trying to get a job done. The film is produced by Luc Besson, and whatever else may be true of him, he does not make films that hang around unnecessarily. The action, up to the hour mark at least, hits all the beats that it needs to and cutting from scene to scene at just the right time. Pierre Morel compliments Besson very well, bringing a Hollywood sensibility without too much of the accompanying excess.

As efficient as Taken is, however, it is also deeply derivative. I've spoken in the past about the difference between a cliché and a convention, the key being that if we are engrossed enough in the story or the action, then the more well-worn elements are less likely to bother us. Considering how fast-paced and lean Taken is, you'd expect these familiar touches to be easy to ignore or gloss over, but they are often so blatantly obvious that this becomes impossible.

For starters, the camerawork is incredibly sub-Bourne, relying on very clumsy hand-held work and needless choppy editing during the car chases. Like many filmmakers who have aped the style of the Bourne series, Morel seems to understand how to achieve the effect but doesn't understand what the effect is for. Paul Greengrass used handheld camerawork to bring a realistic, documentarian feel to the Bourne films; the action was directed in such a way that it felt spontaneous and visceral. With Taken, there is so much artifice in the set-up and plot mechanics that this technique doesn't work, resulting in nothing more than visual incoherence.

While many B-movies recycle plots from films at or below their station, this film pinches plot points from more upmarket films, perhaps in a bid to give itself mainstream credibility. The scene where Neeson uses a photo booth to enlarge a photo of the kidnapper's face is a shameless rip-off of Blade Runner, recreating the shot with none of the intrigue or patience. The interpreter who appears very briefly is a straight lift from the Sherlock Holmes story 'The Greek Interpreter', being a character who is asked to interpret without knowing where he is, what he is doing or why. The death scene involving the bulldozer is essentially a reworking of the ridiculous surfboard death in Lethal Weapon 2, and the recurring mention of "good luck" is a clunking and ineffective nod to The Great Escape.

Then we come to the film's casual racism, evident in its characterisation of Europeans. Despite its modern camerawork and aesthetic, it is a very old-fashioned, retrograde thriller in which anyone who doesn't come from America is simply evil. The film focuses a lot of its energy on the Albanians, stereotyping them as vicious human traffickers with an overlord so silly, he could have come straight from a Tintin comic. But the French are also slandered, with the main French character being cowardly, corrupt and never more than a few yards from either wine or a baguette.

You might make the point at this juncture that this kind of stereotyping simply comes with the territory. B-movies have often depicted American protagonists fighting other races under the banner of entertainment, a trend which has carried over to the mainstream via Raiders of the Lost Ark. The difference, however, is that Raiders doesn't play the Nazis' race for laughs: Indiana Jones could be punching hundreds of bad Americans out and it would still be awesome. Taken actively relies on the foreign nature of its bad guys, using racial stereotypes to reinforce its protagonist in the absence of any more developed story or characterisations.

Up to the hour mark, what we have is a stupid, derivative and racist but efficiently made action thriller. The action is very paint-by-numbers, and the camerawork is poor, but there's enough humour and silliness to keep us entertained. The enjoyment we get from Neeson and the slick execution is in such abundance that the film is a borderline guilty pleasure. And then we come to the torture scene, after which the film takes a nose dive and never recovers.

There has been an awful lot of press recently about the depiction of torture in films, particularly in regard to Zero Dark Thirty and whether it condones or condemns the use of torture. In the case of Taken, there can be no such debates: the film blatantly condones torture as a means of getting information, and then throws in a touch of sadism by having our hero leave the victim to slowly fry. This scene has none of the humour of the torture scene in Casino Royale, or even Reservoir Dogs: it leaves a really nasty taste in the mouth and goes somewhere to alienating our protagonist.

After this scene, the sleazier parts of Taken start to bother us more. The film shoots itself in the foot in this regard, cranking up both the body count and the scenes of scantily-clad women. We're meant to feel like the stakes are being raised, but all that's different is that we now deeply dislike Neeson's character. He has gone from someone doing what he must to a vengeful and vindictive murderer, and there is no Get Carter-style twist to mitigate just how reprehensible he's being.

The film's attempts to up the ante with the action also betray even more derivative aspects. Having put up with certain scenes or character traits up to this point, we know begin to pick up on shots or compositions that the film recycles from better genre movies. The Albanians' derivative deaths range from having their heads slammed in car doors (Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels) to being hit in the head repeatedly with a fire extinguisher (Irreversible). The scene of the different mobsters bidding on the girls feels like the underground executive scene in Mulholland Drive, but without any of the intelligence, the intrigue or the mystery. Having already lost its audience, the film proves that it doesn't have an original bone in its body, being in every way, shape or form the product of a hack.

Taken is a really poor action film that fails to fulfil on what little potential it possessed. While its pacing is laudable and its performances are initially likeable, all the problems which bubble under the surface at the start are thrust wide into the open after the torture scene, after which it has nowhere to go. Neeson give it his all, but there is a bittersweetness here too, considering the direction this film has led him down in his later career. In short, it's awful - and it has an awful lot to answer for.
Super Reviewer
½ December 18, 2007
A riveting, powerful, adrenaline-pumping, heart-pounding and exhilarating action-packed edge of your seat thriller. It's stylish, hard-edged, thrilling, nail-biting and surprisingly affectionate. A strong, intelligent, full-throttle and relentlessly exciting thrill-ride loaded with explosive action, unstoppable tension and great suspense. A cool, slick, smart, realistic, character driven and well-crafted film. An excellent, breathtaking and amazing movie. It grabs you with a tight grip and refuses to let go. Your pulse will be pounding every step of the way. A real sensational knockout. It roars with dramatic intensity that hits you where it hurts. An absolute powerhouse. Gripping, compelling, moving, hard-boiled and remarkable. Liam Neeson is magnificent, giving another unforgettable performance. He's able to be the intimidating action hero along with human tenderness and a big heart, showing us more and why he is a born movie star. It's Bourne meets Man On Fire. This film dose not fail to satisfy or entertain one bit. Writer/Producer, Luc Besson's best work in recent years, he's always found a way of mixing action with great characters and story.
Samuel Riley
Super Reviewer
August 29, 2012
Plenty of action and suspense. Packed with a superb performance from Liam Neeson. His character shares some similar emotions that father's with growing children have. With every punch Nesson delievers, every bullet he shoots, every bone he shatters, feels very satisfying.
Super Reviewer
August 14, 2012
In the last 5 years, there are probably less than 10 movies that I would consider true classics. "Taken" is definitely on that list. This is one of the best action thrillers ever. Liam Neeson gives probably the best performance of his career,as the ultimate badass. The premise is simple, his daughter gets kidnapped in Europe, and he goes to rescue her. He just so happens to be an ex soldier/"problem preventor". I'd consider this like an updated version of "Commando", but a much better film. The best thing about this movie is it features one of the top 5 scenes ever in a movie. When he is on the phone with the kidnapper towards the beginning, is just chilling. Still gets me going, and I still quote that to this day. I love this movie and cannot wait for the sequel. If you haven't watched this, then your nuts and need to go get a copy immediately! If you have watched it, then you love it, and you should watch it again to prepare for the awesomeness that is surely to come in part 2.
Super Reviewer
February 6, 2009
A typical thriller with the simplified plot is well visioned, but the excellence of Liam Neeson hides those flaws and makes the film much more interesting than first expected. 4/5
Super Reviewer
June 22, 2012
"I don't know who you are, I don't know what you want, but if you don't let my daughter go, I will find you and I WILL KILL YOU"......One of the coolest quotes in any movie, and definitely one of my favorites. The film definitely has a lot of action, great suspense, and an overall great storyline. The ratings here on RT do not do this film ANY justice; I thought it was a great mystery/suspense film that I would recommend to anyone.
Super Reviewer
April 24, 2009
Amazing movie, with the best quote ever!

'I don't Know Who You Are, I don't Know what you want, But If you Don't let My Daughter Go, I Will Find You And I WILL KILL YOU'

I Love that quote so much! An amazing movie, powerful, rich and just fantastic! Liam Neeson is superb choice as the leading man and he did a fantastic job!
Its explosive and action packed and a great job on Luc Besson part who i love also and this is one of his bettter written scripts!
I would recommend this movie to everyone!
Super Reviewer
October 13, 2010
Most overrated movie I have ever seen. I cannot believe there is such a huge following behind it.

This guy is unstoppable. Kills everyone with one bullet due to his precise aiming and his intuition to somehow know when a gun is being pointed to him and to dodge the bullet... even when he's in a freaking hallway with no gun. I simply saw this as a knock-off of the Bourne series with less spectacular action scenes, devoid of any of the tension, and a stupid narrative. There's no doubt that I enjoyed it at times, but I simply saw it as a ridiculously annoying B-movie with an intention to preach a very weak message about sex slavery that is not convincing enough to captivate the audience's emotions to take action.
paul o.
Super Reviewer
February 11, 2012
A cult classic.
Super Reviewer
February 25, 2009
Neeson fits really well into the highly trained all round badass which was surprising actually, he has always seemed the gentle giant :)
This film is pretty good, nothing too far stretched or over complicated, just your basic kidnap and rescue flick which could of suited Willis, Statham etc...right down to the ground but would of been obviously over the top, Neeson gives the film a serious believeable feel and tension that makes you want him to win and beat the crap outta those greasy Eastern Euro's haha

Afew minor little things gripe or just make you think, Neeson does find the kidnappers pretty quick n easy and the public phone he uses with the mobile mem card is kinda funny, as if that would work like that in reality haha well it wouldn't in the UK that's for sure ;) nothing major. The action is the best of course...the gun fire, fighting and car chases are all very well done and look spot on.

This film very much reminds me of 'Ronin' with its slick action sequences, makes the movie. Everything else is all good, the acting, locations and ending all work well making a good rounded action movie, never knew Neeson had it in him.
Super Reviewer
½ December 21, 2008
A young girl is taken by a prostitute ring during her Paris vacation. The kidnapper's problem: her father is a former CIA special agent and knows what to do. You have to admire the film's tenacity with which it is following the dad's killing spree on his way to find his daughter: it's fast, ruthless, violent and oddly exciting even if he doesn't even meet one opponent who could be a serious threat to the man. The film doesn't waste time with questions of morale or the problems that arise when people take law in their own hands. The reasons this is still deeply entertaining, even enthralling: Liam Neeson is a very convincing leading man, and the script sticks to his heels with one well-filmed action scene after the other. The audience never knows more than he does, so we follow our protagonist from one clue to the next, leaving behind a pile of dead people who deserved it and we actually catch ourselves applauding him, even if he takes it too far a couple of times. That's quite an achievement, considering the disgusted reacting a person like this would cause in real life. But that's the beauty of film, isn't it?
Super Reviewer
½ November 17, 2011
I have mixed feelings about this movie. Sure it exciting with Liam Neeson single-handedly taking on the whole French underworld killing people left and right. And this is all justified to the audience by the fact that Liam is allowed to do whatever it takes to rescue his daughter
Super Reviewer
September 3, 2011
Considering that Taken uses the same old clichéd revenge formula, I surprisingly enjoyed this film. The story is quite simple, but the film manages to keep the thrills moving along and the story itself is well paced. Taken isn't anything new or original, but it is a very entertaining film with a good cast. Liam Neeson delivers an awesome performance as a father whose daughter has been kidnapped, and he vows to get her back. The film tends to navigate similar territory as other revenge films, but the performances make this one worth seeing. The film isn't perfect, and at times it's predictable, but for what it is, it's a very entertaining film with plenty of thrills. Of course this isn't Neeson's best film, but for what it is, it's definitely a well plotted, acted and directed film. Neeson is terrific and he makes this film better than it is. As far as Revenge films go, Taken is a good film, but its problem, like I said, is that it's somewhat predictable due to the usual revenge film formula. But despite this, Taken is an entertaining film, and does have a few good thrills up its sleeve. The cast here make the film work well enough for this film to be an entertaining thrill ride despite its predictability. A good film with a decent story and good acting make this film a must see. Better than most Revenge films as there's 0plenty of thrills to exhilarate the viewer.
Super Reviewer
½ October 12, 2008
His daughter was taken. He has 96 hours to get her back.

Saw it again! Very good movie! Great balanced action/drama film. Liam Neeson acted great and the plot was top notch. Recommended for everyone who likes a good action plus drama flick.

Seventeen year-old Kim is the pride and joy of her father Bryan Mills. Bryan is a retired agent who left the Central Intelligence Agency to be near Kim in California. Kim lives with her mother Lenore and her wealthy stepfather Stuart. Kim manages to convince her reluctant father to allow her to travel to Paris with her friend Amanda. When the girls arrive in Paris they share a cab with a stranger named Peter, and Amanda lets it slip that they are alone in Paris. Using this information an Albanian gang of human traffickers kidnaps the girls. Kim barely has time to call her father and give him information. Her father gets to speak briefly to one of the kidnappers and he promises to kill the kidnappers if they do not let his daughter go free. The kidnapper wishes him "good luck," so Bryan Mills travels to Paris to search for his daughter and her friend.
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