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A movie directed by Pierre Morel

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Father knows best...death to any and all who threaten his little girl

  • Dec 6, 2009
Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) is a retired and divorced ex-spy, who now lives only for his estranged daughter. The trouble is, while she seems happy enough to see him when he manages to meet her, usually she won't give him the time of day. She's got all she wants from her enormously wealthy stepfather, and all she wants from her real father is permission to go to Paris. He's reluctant because, as an ex-spy, I guess, he knows that Europe can be much more dangerous than most people think, especially for a naive young woman. It turns out he's right, because the moment his daughter arrives with her friend in Paris, she's targeted and kidnapped by sex traffickers. She manages to get a phone call off to her dad before she's abducted and immediately he's on the case - figures out who they are and plans do do much more than kick butt on his way to saving her.

Directed by Pierre Morel, this film has all the marks of its producer and writer, Luc Besson. Mills is a classic Bessonian hero - who does what he does without remorse, and ruthlessly, but all in the service of good old-fashioned family values. Luc Besson's heroes tend to be jaded professionals, highly competent at killing but without direction in their lives until they discover that they are meant to save some innocent, to fix some kind of family crisis. It's a weird mix of visceral violence and sentimentality. He takes on anyone who gets in his way, anyone who threatens his daughter, anyone who even refuses to help him on his way, and, according to the bizarre but effective Hollywood action film logic that Bresson distills to its essence, it's all okay, it's all morally acceptable, and it all comes out in the end. The basic principle is that the ends always justifies the means, especially if family is at stake. In films like Die Hard, there's something else at stake (lots of innocent lives, money, national security), but family is at the heart of it, and in this film that becomes the whole of it, sex trafficking merely becomes the vehicle, the focus for a father's rage. Of course if you stop to think about it, you have to realize that this guy is a psychopath, and that there are proper channels for a reason, given the number of innocent lives he puts at risk on his quest to stop the bad guys - even though most of the bad guys he actually dispatches are truly bad. Still, it's strange how easy it is, watching a film like this, to buy all that, and how hard it is not to. It's a precise, taut, effective, action thriller, and Liam Neeson brings just the right mix of emotional intensity and ruthlessness for the audience to care about him and his emotional quest in spite of themselves.

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More Taken (2008) reviews
Quick Tip by . April 03, 2013
posted in Movie Hype
Taken is good as a popcorn flick, but my main beef with this movie lies in the fact that for this type of movie, a PG-13 rating held back a lot of potential carnage that would be right at home with it.  Even with that taken into account, it was fun to see Liam Neeson kick a ton of ass and kill tons of heinous people.      As stated earlier, this is good popcorn entertainment, but if you want superior pieces of fiction dealing with the Eastern European human trafficking …
Quick Tip by . June 20, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
I saw this again during Father's Day--I have to say that this has one of the best lines ever in movies. If a father is so calm and reserved during a stressful situation, when he says that he will find you, bad guys better listen--that means he means it...and he can.      Great Father's Day movie! see full review here.                              &n …
review by . May 12, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
Parents, if you're tempted to allow your teenagers to travel on their own to Europe, watch Taken before you decide. Today's Europe is a far cry from the romantic picture that many Americans still imagine. Bad things can and do happen to naive teens arriving for an adventure. Having visited France, the setting for Taken, several times in the past decade, I can say firsthand that this country has been inundated with emigres from eastern Europe, and not all of them are innocents in search of …
review by . February 08, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
movie poster
I've always liked Luc Besson. His films usually have a lot of cool attitude but still touches on realism (ok, maybe not "The Transporter") in storytelling and it is always a delight to see him take on a popcorn action thriller. His past projects include "District 13", my personal favorite "Kiss of the Dragon" with Jet Li, "High Tension" and "Danny the Dog" (again with Jet Li). Besson co-writes and Pierre Morel directs in this latest action thriller …
review by . May 29, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
One of the most exciting and interesting movies to be released in the first-half of 2009, TAKEN is a thrilling movie about one father's journey to rescue his daughter from Eastern European kidnappers who intend to sell her as a sex slave to the highest bidder. Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) is a retired CIA special ops man who has recently moved so that he can be closer to his teenage daughter, Kim (Maggie Grace) who is living with his ex-wife (Famke Janssen) and her wealthy stepfather (Xander Berkeley). …
review by . September 17, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
While watching "Taken" I was reminded of several other "Lost Child" films and surprisingly the one which first came to mind was Arnold Schwarzenegger's "Commando." Specifically this movie is what that movie should have been like. Liam Neeson outshines Arnold with a witty and far more sympathetic and charismatic character portrayal.    The film's plot is simple but has enough twists and texture to make it into a fulfilling experience. I could go on and on talking about Neeson …
About the reviewer
Nathan Andersen ()
Ranked #28
I teach philosophy at Eckerd College, in Saint Petersburg, Florida.      I run an award-winning International Cinema series in Tampa Bay (, and am co-director of … more
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What could be a skillful but ordinary action flick gets a surprising emotional heft from the presence of Liam Neeson as the hero. Bryan Mills (Neeson) has given up his career as a spy to form a relationship with his estranged teenage daughter--but when, on a trip to Paris, she's kidnapped by slavers, Mills uses all his connections and skills to turn the city of lights upside down and rescue her. Like most of the movies that writer/producer Luc Besson has a hand in (such asLa Femme Nikita,The Transporter,Unleashed, and many other French action movies),Takendrips with lurid violence (a bit toned-down to get a PG-13 rating, but there's still plenty of it), deranged sentimentality, and stereotypes of all kinds. But this doesn't stop his movies from being effective thrill-rides, andTakenis no exception.Takenpays just enough attention to the illusion of procedure--making it seem like Mills knows all the right steps to track down his daughter--that the movie cheerfully seduces your suspension of disbelief, despite many plot holes and scenes where Mills doesn't get scratched despite bullets flying in all directions or pretends to be a French policeman despite not speaking French or even adopting a French accent. What holds it all together is Neeson; his gravitas and emotional availability make his character--the usual action fantasy of impossible competence and righteous fury--somehow seem real and relatable.--Bret Fetzer

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Director: Pierre Morel
DVD Release Date: May 12, 2009
Runtime: 91 minutes
Studio: 20th Century Fox
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