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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 22.97%
Just Average: 6.76%
Pretty Crappy: 1.35%
Sucks: 6.76%

5 reviews, 44 user ratings

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by Rob Gonsalves

"Liam Neeson will beat you to death with his face."
5 stars

At age 56, Liam Neeson still looks like a formidable slab of muscle looped over steel. In the new action-thriller "Taken," Neeson could probably beat his adversaries into submission with his vast stony forehead, but unless I misremember, he doesn’t use that particular lethal weapon.

He kicks, punches, chops, slashes, shoots, and slams more than one face into more than one wall or door. We almost feel sorry for the poor Armenian scum who have unwisely chosen to kidnap Neeson’s daughter to sell her as a sex slave. They’re well-armed and well-connected, but they’re up against all six feet and four inches of Liam Neeson in all his righteous wrath. It doesn’t seem fair, really.

Neeson’s character, Bryan Mills, used to work for the government as a “preventer” of “bad things.” He has retired in order to spend more time with wide-eyed teenage daughter Kim (Maggie Grace), though he also has to weather the disapproving scowl of ex-wife Famke Janssen; Bryan probably likes his chances better against the Armenians. Kim and a friend get kidnapped in Paris, and Bryan swings into action. He looms over his ex’s current rich husband (Xander Berkeley) and demands a private flight to France — it’s every ex-husband’s dream moment.

Taken is a standard give-me-back-my-spawn thriller, but as written by Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen it’s admirably stripped down — less the credits, you’re out of there in under 90 minutes — and it shares Bryan’s unearthly focus. It’s good that the first act shows off Neeson’s warm side — Bryan’s daughter is his only weakness, and he’s blissful when he’s around her. He doesn’t need a big speech about how Kim represents the innocence that he wants to preserve in such a cold, corrupt world — we get that when he looks at her, and also when he frets about every step she proposes to take on her Eurotrip. Neeson has been a sorely underrated actor, a solid and somber presence but, despite appearing in box-office hits, never quite a star. But Taken proves his star quality in a way no film has since Neeson’s early-’90s salad days in Schindler’s List and, yes, Darkman.

Bryan’s odyssey through the slime, with frequent concussive scenes in which various Euro-scum are the bowling pins and Bryan is the bowling ball, is on some level Hardcore meets Die Hard. But there’s undeniable pleasure in watching a man of Neeson’s power and intelligence unleashing both on scruffy anonymous lowlifes. What could be simplistic and cheesy in other hands becomes iconic. Luc Besson has a knack for pure-cinema adrenaline rides (his protege Pierre Morel directed) that do away with anything inessential — that take red meat and boil it down to the bone. Despite its grim emphasis, Taken is not without humor; I particularly enjoyed Bryan’s visit to an old colleague turned Paris police desk jockey, whose oblivious wife serves dinner to the two mutually wary men — the way she chirps “Carrots?” to the brooding Neeson is the funniest offer of food in a movie since Marlon Brando proffered biscuits in The Island of Dr. Moreau.

You may be forgiven for looking askance at Taken, which bounced around global theaters for a while before 20th Century-Fox dumped it into a no-confidence late-January slot. But there is a place for pulp done properly and well; the movie displays little art, but it doesn’t have to. Its furious sense of purpose — get in, find the girl, get out — matches Liam Neeson’s.

And, come to think of it, there is a kind of artistry in the sheer craft and intensity on display. But don’t let that stop you.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=17351&reviewer=416
originally posted: 01/31/09 22:15:51
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User Comments

9/13/17 morris campbell good action flick liam is cool 4 stars
2/25/15 stanley welles a brainless bilious mix of sentimentality and bone-cracking violence 1 stars
10/02/14 joey from brooklyn albanian mobsters! suck it! 5 stars
10/24/12 Charles Tatum Quick, and full of loopholes 3 stars
8/26/12 David Pollastrini A tension filled thriller. 4 stars
6/19/12 fartvenugen So bad. Seagal did this much better in the 80s. 1 stars
6/08/11 R.W. Welch Snappily paced actioner with sharp writing and acting. 4 stars
3/27/11 Ken I adore a good revenge movie. This was right up with Man on Fire 4 stars
2/03/11 Monday Morning Hey Lee, the plural "morons" doesn't get an apostrophe, you moron. 5 stars
9/22/10 bored mom It's Splinter Cell: The Movie. 4 stars
4/05/10 TreeTiger The best action/revenge movie I have seen in years! 5 stars
1/04/10 RLan If you like action movies, this is one you should see. 4 stars
7/25/09 Bryan Tough, well-acted suspense thriller. 4 stars
7/08/09 Jeff Wilder Not a bad action movie. But as far as thrillers of this type go Man On Fire was better. 3 stars
6/09/09 Lee moron's wrote it, directed it, watched it themselves and loved it. fucking moron's 1 stars
5/28/09 kitfo another paranoid fantasy about child abduction, how could a simple plot have so many holes? 2 stars
5/25/09 Anonymous. great action but not a great movie... 3 stars
5/25/09 Bnorm It was incredible how many people that old man killed. Liam Neeson was great 5 stars
5/24/09 Brandon Allin Exhilarating all the way through 5 stars
5/20/09 Kike Sosa Liam Neeson's my new definition of "BAD-ASS" 5 stars
5/08/09 Samantha Pruitt AWESOME! constant action, Liam Neeson kicks ass! 5 stars
5/04/09 Mr. White Who knew that throat punching would be this good! 5 stars
3/24/09 ravenmad Awesome!!! Wish it got more press. Human trafficking is a sad reality. 5 stars
3/18/09 Total Crap Way overrated, great action but forgettable. I feel like I've seen all this before. 3 stars
3/17/09 ES Very good movie, Bryan Mills is a machine 4 stars
3/14/09 mr.mike Pulse-pounding , with Neeson top notch. 4 stars
3/09/09 Monday Morning Best thriller I've seen in years. They didn't even need the car chase(s). 5 stars
3/05/09 Elaine Best movie ive seen in 2009! Made me cry, laugh, scared.. everything a movie should be! 5 stars
3/01/09 Aaron Women and hyper-sensative liberals hate this movie.....which means that it is awesome. 5 stars
2/28/09 g. Excellent film, Neeson is great. However Maggie Grace was horribly miscast. 5 stars
2/28/09 blah blah uncut version is fucking awesome and brutal 5 stars
2/14/09 Todddi I think i could have written that script 1 stars
2/14/09 Joey Schmaloney Great film! Uncompromising and brutal. Neeson gets what he comes for and deserves to. 5 stars
2/14/09 Jenny Enjoyed every minute. Nice to see the bad guys get what they deserve! No negotiations. 4 stars
2/12/09 Wil worth the theater ticket, better than jack bauer from 24 5 stars
2/09/09 Brian When people kidnapped Peter Lorre's kid they immediately gave her back. Now that's scary. 4 stars
2/08/09 KingNeutron Only movie Ive seen since Dark Knight that was worth the Theater $$! 4 stars
2/05/09 Man Out 6 Bucks About time someone pinned Albanian KLA terrorists 4 stars
2/04/09 Faraz J Not special in anyway. And i seem to have seen iit way before the release. 3 stars
2/03/09 Aesop Action. Adventure. Entertainment. What a concept, huh Hollywood? 4 stars
1/31/09 Alex Thorne brutal, nasty, unflinching, and brilliant for it 4 stars
1/31/09 Ming great thriller and lots of actions 4 stars
1/31/09 Jack Sommersby The best action-thriller in years and the outstanding Neeson's best performance. 4 stars
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  30-Jan-2009 (PG-13)
  DVD: 12-May-2009


  DVD: 12-May-2009

[trailer] Trailer

Directed by
  Pierre Morel

Written by
  Luc Besson
  Robert Mark Kamen

  Liam Neeson
  Famke Janssen
  Maggie Grace
  Goran Kostic
  Katie Cassidy

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