Liam Neeson is superb at the most important part of this role...sounding dangerous. The famous phone call that kicks off the action of the film is so well done, and it relies completely on Neeson delivering the lines in just the right way. A lot of the action sequences are shot in creative ways so that he can pull it off or they can hide the fact that we?re actually seeing a stunt double, so I didn?t have any issues with that stuff. The only time I cringed a little about Neeson?s acting was in the opening few scenes before and during his daughter?s party, but I think that was more a symptom of some bad script work. The rest of the cast was fine, but sadly, there wasn?t one villain established well enough to stand out from the rest or to feel like the main antagonist that needed to be defeated.
What surprised me the most was the level of violence in Taken. Based on the way people have sold this movie to me in the past, I expected it to be almost traumatic levels of gore and violence. Yet I didn?t get that, instead this movie seemed almost restrained compared to what I?ve seen in other films. It?s not really a bad thing, but I think I expected a little more shock and awe when he was dispatching a room full of bad guys. Taken is loaded with these scenes where the tension builds up for a few seconds and then it is released very quickly in dramatic fashion. I think it might have worked better if the tension built up a little longer, or if I felt for even one second that he had met his match or might fail. They even had a ticking clock but rarely referenced it.
Taken is kind of dumb in some parts. There are definite logic problems I had with the film, but they are standard across most action movies, so I am accustomed to letting that kind of stuff go. I also liked that they didn?t hide anything or attempt to surprise the audience with the plot of the film. They have scenes very early where the main character and his friends talk about what they used to do, so it never feels like the writers are wasting our time trying to trick us into believing he is just an average guy. And this makes it so we don?t have to be introduced to each new character he meets because we can just accept that these are connections he made in his old life. I?m willing to take some of the common action movie nonsense in Taken, because it is just a fun ride, and I would gladly watch it again any time.