Tuesday, 27 October 2009

TAKEN (2008)

If you are into tough action films this one is a real treat. It's a double treat because here is a film that knows exactly where it is going, achieves exactly what it sets out to do and does it without wasting one foot of film. It signs in at a lean and very mean 93 minutes. It also scores heavily for me by actually having a good actor in the lead who can make the hero convincingly human as well as seriously badass. Liam Neeson plays a former ""preventer" for a U.S. Goverment Agency ("I prevented bad things happening") who has retired to be near his 17 year old daughter who lives with his ex-wife. The girl travels to Paris with a friend and no sooner is she on French soil she is grabbed by Albanian sex traffickers. Neeson hears the abduction over the phone and is soon on his way to Paris. The American scenes very cleverly inform us of his former trade, the people he worked with and, in a scene at a pop concert, show us his abilities and skills. By the time he arrives in Paris you know that the Albanians are in for a bad time. The action is fast and furious with an body count that would make some action heroes sick with envy. Yet, during the shooting, beating, stabbing, garrotting, crashing etc, thanks to Neeson's performance, you never loose sight of the fact that this is a man pushed to the very edge at the thought of losing his daughter. He shows no mercy to the scum he encounters and the film never moralises about his methods even when he improvises an electric chair which he casually leaves running after extracting the information from the man in it. Only once was I pulled up short by one of his actions (and I believe this is too intelligent a film for that not to be the reaction that the writer and the director wanted) when he casually puts a bullet into an innocent woman to convince somebody he means business. It is the most shocking scene in the film despite all the graphic violence that has preceeded it. Yet, even here, the film refuses to moralise. The only question the film asks us is what we would do if it was our child? We are not invited to pass judgement on Neeson's character, only on ourselves. Written by Luc Besson and directed by Pierre Morrel TAKEN is a terrific action film with a brain. Rating ****

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