Liam Neeson in "Taken"
Taken inspires a whole new appreciation for Irish actor Liam Neeson. Neeson is best known for his tear-jerking turn as Oskar Schindler in Steven Spielberg's 1993 "Schindler's List." Neeson's Schindler was sympathetic (somewhat), charitable (after a while) and kind-hearted (at the very end). Forget all that.
In "Taken" viewers are introduced to a new side of Neeson, one that is relentless and likes to hit criminals in the throat -- a lot. And Neeson seems unfazed by the physical demands of the role, which makes his fists-first performance that much more compelling.
Retired CIA operative Bryan Mills (Neeson) is desperate to spend quality time with his only daughter, 17-year-old Kim. Bryan hopes to make up for lost time with Kim despite the cold-hearted interruptions of his wealthy ex-wife. But Bryan's well-honed warning signals blare when Kim and her friend Amanda take off for Paris without an adult escort.
Bryan's worries prove warranted when he gets a chilling phone call from Kim saying that men have broken into her loft and kidnapped Amanda. Bryan is forced to listen, picking up subtle auditory clues along the way, while Kim is also taken. But Bryan is fast to react, utilizing years of covert and martial-arts skills in hopes of hunting down Kim's kidnappers and bringing his daughter home.
The screenplay is simple and a bit uninspired. Much of the dialogue feels pulled from "Screenwriting for Dummies" or some other generic how-to book. Several of the characters are one-note, making Neeson's Bryan appear that much more dynamic.
"Taken" is escapist stuff, but it beats the heck out of February boredom.
Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence, disturbing thematic material, sexual content, some drug references and language. 1 hour, 33 minutes.
- Tyler Hanley