Not exactly an advert for tourism to the City of Light, Taken revolves around a human trafficking ring that’s kidnapping tourists newly arrived in Paris, and shipping them off to cruel sexual slavery. Unfortunately for one particular gang of Albanians (this year’s recipient of Most Vilified Nation in Hollywood Award….. that’s right, Albanians), the girl they’ve just snatched is the only child of a former CIA agent. With 96 hours before she vanishes for good, he undertakes to track her down sharpish, slaying multiple bad guys along the way.
To be honest, there’s not much more to the movie than the tag line – though that’s not to say it’s not well constructed and delivered production. Sordid subject matter aside, Taken is a rollercoaster ride, and Liam Neeson as the Dad-on-Fire brings unassuming normalness to his viciously accurate karate chops. I love that he shoots his old friend’s wife when he’s suddenly implicated in the plot. I also love the fact that there are no “witty wisecracks” in the script and there’s no dumb-ass sidekick for levity. It handles its relentlessness seriously, and that’s a boon.
On the down side, 25 year old Maggie Grace as his 17 year old daughter is really pushing the limits of disbelief, and clearly neither Grace nor the French director really remember what it was like to be a Californian teenager. Pony or home karaoke machine? Those are things I’d argue over with my ten year old.