Kevin's Review: Taken - Not Bourne or Bond, But Still Badass

January 30, 2009

Proving he's not a one-hit badass, Liam Neeson leverages the fisticuffs he picked up as Ra's al Ghul in Batman Begins to beat the sense out of some Algerian thugs who have kidnapped his daughter in Pierre Morel's Taken. Clean-cut and unassuming, Neeson's Bryan Mills is inescapably reminiscent of Matt Damon's Jason Bourne. But anyone hoping for the next sensible spy tale to follow that ground-breaking trilogy should probably continue to hold their breath. Taken is admirably in-your-face, satisfyingly (if not surprisingly) blunt and lensed like the best of them, but it lacks in the nuance and depth that might turn it into a genre mainstay. Nevertheless, Neeson has clearly broken the mold for ass-kicking fathers.

Estranged from his wife and daughter as a result of years spent in the CIA as a "preventer", Bryan Mills (Neeson) is trying to make up for lost time when the movie opens. He doesn't see his work buddies much anymore, opting instead to dote on this daughter, such as meticulously studying a karaoke machine he intends to give her as a gift for her 17th birthday. You wouldn't think his daughter is 17, though, since Maggie Grace, in an attempt to come off as younger than her 25 years of age, overshoots, and plays Kim more as a goofy 13-year-old. Her awkward running around and elation over a pony for her birthday is one of the film's weaker renderings; that, and the uber-bitchiness exuded by Famke Janssen as her mother. Thankfully, since Kim has been absconded and is held in secret, we don't have to stomach her for long.

Liam Neeson shows us his best "Have you seen my daughter?" face during Taken.Taken

Kim and her best friend Amanda, through lies and suck-upage, manage to get permission to head to Paris for a European vacation, sans supervision. The cockiness and deceit the two dole out doesn't exactly elicit a lot of sympathy for the pair. Witnessing Amanda's obnoxious dancing interrupted by burly intruders, Kim frantically listens to her father's advice over the phone, culminating in an ominous declaration, "Now they're going to take you." It's the most chilling moment of the film, and one that solidly shifts the pace up a few gears into a hair-blowing 90mph from there on out.

But the swift speed plays for and against Taken. While avoiding stalling is favorable to Mills in finding the next bad guy and kicking kidnapper ass, you do sometimes wonder how the discovery went so quickly. Mills manages to uncover a complex web of political corruption and high-end sex slavery in shorter time than a "Law and Order" episode. If the film had taken (pun intended) a bit more time in surfacing the smaller details, we could have been privy to a much richer experience.

Even though it's lean on brains, Taken has plenty of brawn. Neeson is quite possibly the deadliest retiree on screen. More often than not, he relies on hand-to-hand combat, which of course affords him major ass-kicker points. In the instances when he uses a gun, director Pierre Morel thankfully takes a cue from the real world and only allows him so many bullets. It wouldn't be much of challenge, after all, if Mills had unlimited ammo. But in the times he uses a gun, Mills means it. Like in one rather shocking instance that manifests the cold, forceful loyalty he has as a father and damn near anything that gets in his way.

Taken may not be as sexy or studied a film as anything Bond or Bourne, respectively, but the capable and cheer-worthy character that Liam Neeson has created should rightfully have a seat alongside those great spies. The growing question then becomes -- who would win in a fight between the three of them?

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liam neeson would kick jason bourne but not james bond. that last bond flick, james bond was a psycho.

Darrin on Jan 30, 2009


this movie deserves more than a 7.5. Saw it months ago, and it blew my FUCKIng mind.

richard on Jan 30, 2009


Very cool film.... Glad that Neeson can still take care of business.. His character verses Bond character phases, he might lose against a Daniel Craig Bond. But that fight would be awesome! Bond can get the ladies thought and Famke Janssen is smoking hot.... didn't Bond get her to.. Golden-eye? Haha Neeson verses Bourne might be a one two punch for Neeson.. but Bourne pretty bad ass! Hats of to Luc Besson and Pierre Morel for Great Cinematography Thanks FS. ryaN

Ryan McCarthy on Jan 30, 2009


I just got back from seeing and it was freaking BAMF material. I would rate it an 8.5. It could have had a little more gravity to it like Bourne but I thought it was a great movie anyway. Also Neeson would destroy both Bond and Bourne any time any where because he always does exactly as he says "I will find you, I will kill you"

Scott McHenry on Jan 30, 2009


I vote for Bourne although Bond is great and I like Nesson but whenever I watch his movies I see the damn Narnia Lion...

????? on Jan 30, 2009


correct me if i am wrong, but i recently saw this movie kevin, and I coulda sworn they were albanian bad guys..and not algerian

Vin on Jan 30, 2009


Neeson all the way.

Brian Ricci on Jan 30, 2009


Yeah, #6, they were from Albania, not Algeria. Algeria is in Africa. But badass movie.

Matt on Jan 30, 2009


I prefer this over bourne, neeson really portray this character really well. I like the storyline simple and direct he is not trying to save everyone, he is just trying to save his daughter.

cindarr on Jan 30, 2009


great action, straight to the point, no mistaking what his intent was, which was to save his daughter and killed the people responsible.

richie on Jan 30, 2009


I am rating this 8.8. And yes, they were Albanian (in the movie). I loved the storyline too just like #9. Highly recommended movie to watch!

Egghub on Jan 30, 2009


this movie was a 9/10, neeson was the man in this movie! it's up there with Gran Torino, for me atleast.

Caleb on Jan 30, 2009


Neeson was a total badass, loved the movie.

N on Jan 31, 2009


Can't exactly compare this one to Bourne, neither to Bond.. I see the point of comparing them though. I was just SO ready for a movie like this. Just some good action! With a father that is only focussed on getting his daughter back, loved it! I've watched it several times now, it just looks like it's going so fast towards the end 🙁

M. Scofield on Jan 31, 2009


I loved this movie. It's great to see a movie where the bad guys are BAD GUYS and you cheer when every last one of them gets what they deserve. And everyone (parent or not) can relate to what this guy is doing and completly support him.

Jeep Fu on Jan 31, 2009


This movie was a glorified Steven Seagal movie. Terrible all around if you ask me.

Atomic Popcorn on Jan 31, 2009


I would have to give this a 6.5. While it was highly entertaining there was nothing that memorable about it. Also Maggie Grace was awful. She looked 23, was supposed to be 17, and ran like she was two.

Ryan on Jan 31, 2009


The one scene i loved is just after the daughter is taken and liam Talks out the napper. And teh napper just says "goodluck"

~480-405 Buttons on Jan 31, 2009


bourne would destroy either of the two theres no question, however taken was my favorite movie in a while

kid on Jan 31, 2009


This film is above a 7.5 most certainly.

SmartGuy on Jan 31, 2009


I loved the movie from it's beginning to it's credits.

Fisherr on Jan 31, 2009


and agrees with #2

Fisherr on Jan 31, 2009


this film is not SUPPOSED to be sexy. what the hell kind of comment is that. it is meant to inform about the sex trade and show what a disgusting thing it is. this is not merely an action film - while tremendous with its action sequences. this is not merely entertainment - though it delivers with mountains to spare. there was not one minute of this film that i did not love - that did not keep me entirely glued to the screen in front of me. from the rushed, yet adequate opening and introduction, the love and devotion portrayed by Bryan for the love of his daughter and her mother, the risks taken and justice pounded into the ones responsible for their horrible actions, and the no-repercussions-what-so-ever ending and conclusion. This film delivered. 7.5 is an insult to the quality of this movie.

Josh on Jan 31, 2009


I saw this last night, wow I was extremely impressed and engaged, I loved it. When I watched the last bond I was like Oh hes killing bad guys yey, why over some water or something I guess, who knows. This one has a point, you want him to kill those bad guys and you want it to hurt, you care about whats happening and if he succeeds, I loved this movie. I think it was action packed like Borne, but with more heart, and not as much flash, I think its head over heels better then the new, or old Bond stuff. I think it was personally a mix between, bodyguard, hostel, and borne, and I give it a 9/10.

Richard on Jan 31, 2009


Saw the film this afternoon and loved it. Had just what I like in revenge films - a high body count. 8.5.

Joe on Jan 31, 2009


As to how he discovered them so quickly: its actually hinted strongly at in the movie. What with the French cops that much in their pocket they didn't feel like they had to take any strong secrecy precautions, so they were relatively easy for a determined operative to trakc down.

Chuckg on Jan 31, 2009


This movie is a kick-ass action movie. Liam Neeson is terrific, and the body count is high and satisfying. Pity the US version misses out on the nails through the knees torture (or did they leave that in? correct me if I'm wrong, Stateside viewers). Don't think too hard while watching this and you'll have a great time!

avoidz on Jan 31, 2009


ok, granted this movie is awesome and the new Bond is badass (sort of) but Jason Bourne would destroy both of them. Desh from ultimatum could kick both of their asses let alone Bourne. best fighter: 1. Jason Bourne 2. Bryan Mills (taken) 3. Bond (only the daniel craig version)

mike on Feb 1, 2009


This movie is EXCELLENT, except for the first 30 minutes. After that BADDASS

smacky on Feb 1, 2009


Who would win in a fight? Money is on Bryan Mills. Why? Simple really he fights with no remorse and no hesitation. Bourne as good as he is shows a lot of regrets. Bond while he kills without question, he does not have the hand to hand combat skills as this guy.

Pepe Le Pew on Feb 1, 2009


I have to say that I didn't enjoy the US version of the film as much as I did the French. I felt like a lot of the shocking scenes in the film were "color-coated" (edited). I mean, most of what made the film really good was watching Liam Neeson do things in one movie that you'd never thought he'd do. But at least they Fox was loose enough to show the "flesh wound" scene. Hopefully this amazing film will be salvaged when the DVD and Blu-Ray hit later this year with a director's cut.

Frost on Feb 1, 2009


Ah, another one of those film where people are shepherd into praising by film critics. This film is apparently no better than any of those better direct to dvd action films. Nothing can be salvaged from this film. Over acted supporting cast, a one dimensional protagonist ( scenes where it is meant to build character were ran through like a script reading after the opening scene), stereotypical villains, impossible action lead ins and escapes, electronically sped up hand combat, fast short multiangle editing, deux-ex-machina (walked in the hideout without knowing that they are paying off the intelligence service...seriously.), speaking english everywhere in france (maddening...that one), watching the french movie makers bending over for the american cash, break of immersion from technological conveniences....( must admit that was the first time i had seen the phone walkie combination but couldnt the french team just look over to the right? he's practically standing 10 meters away). horribly over rated. considering that it is a wide release, i'll give it no more than a 3.5. if it was direct dvd , 6.5 its just not that good. i really don't understand how any of you guys could be so much into this piece of junk.

Red on Feb 5, 2009


#32, the review clearly says "It's clearly lean on brains" but that it is a decent little piece of entertainment. Your standards seemed to have been waaaaay to high and your analyzing every little piece of the movie like this is some academy worthy film. I just saw it and can honestly say they it was a great little action film that was very entertaining. Is it lean on the details, yeah. But I, and a lot of the people on this forum and other critics, have enjoyed this movie.

????? on Feb 7, 2009


I saw it yesterday and i was blown away! I think it's better than bond latest and the last bourne! I was glad that the handheld camerawork wasn't much around(i hated it in bourne 3) and the actionscenes where great especialy the shootout in the rue paradise! O yeah! i like fast audi's and there where two of them,so it couldn't be better for me!

avi on Feb 8, 2009


This film reminds me a lot of Death Sentence (great portrayal of a revenge flick) but I think Liam's character has it worse. If he had failed he would still have the knowledge of his daughter out there somewhere suffering and servicing God knows who. That alone is scary to think about.

Ken on Feb 9, 2009


**SPOILER ALERT** SPOILER ALERT** I watched it yesterday. I liked the plot but the execution of it was not good. I found it offinsive because it pictures Arabs as fat rich thugs who like to buy virgins or whatever. I mean get over the stereotyping already. + for the plot. - for the sequencing and the stereotyping.

Mazen on Feb 9, 2009


they were in Europe

Anthony on Feb 10, 2009


Theaterical was good, need the actual version though.

xerxex on Feb 11, 2009


just think if it was Jason Stratham (Crank, Transporter) with his crazy ass-kicking skills as the dad.

5OnIt on Feb 12, 2009


7.5? For a film that was missing so many key scenes without being a scrambled

Adam Keith on Feb 14, 2009


Jodie Foster in the Brave One, Kevin Bacon in Death Sentence. Both of those characters and films were executed a lot better. This film could have been used to convey a political message, or to some greater end. If a film has nothing to say, re-uses (yeah, we've all seen it before) a plot, lacks character-driven anything (except Liam Neeson's teeth), it doesn't get any higher than a 5/10 in my book. On a side-note, the fight choreography and cinematography were in extremely poor taste for an action film. Half the time, I felt like I was watching a teletubby dance sequence. $12 ----> drain 🙁

Connor Towle on Feb 14, 2009


First off to anaylze every aspect off the movie you have no life. Secondly this movie was really a 9 or a 9.5, Don't look at the apparent negatives of the movie. It was made to entertain, and all of you people who said it sucked keep your ngative comments to yourself, this was an action movie hands down, I watched it with like 5 friends of mine and lets just say we lost about 25 dollars a piece because we watched it twice in one night...

Ya Boy O on Mar 1, 2009


Is that the US version of the poster?? I fucking love it!! i have Taken on DVD here in the UK and i thought it was a great action movie worth seeing for Neeson alone. Some of the acting was a bit ropey...and the bad guys were a little too easy to kill! But i still enjoyed it overall.

vegasdanny on Mar 1, 2009


#28. what about throwing Martin Riggs from Lethal Weapon 1 into the mix? he was ex Special Forces and one crazy son of a bitch! Tag Team!!

vegasdanny on Mar 1, 2009


people are looking too hard, he finds these people cuz he has friends in high/low places with the means to do so.. no its not like law & order he was after all a preventer.. but im glad the movie didnt drag out. I seen this movie & this is a Banger to be on everyones shelves. Ben crazy about it since i seen the overseas copy in November!!

warnpeace21 on Mar 1, 2009


I have to agree with #2... this movie is definitely more than 7.5...

miracle disease on Mar 13, 2009


Martin Riggs is crazy and would win at the end over everybody,but that man from Taken was a badass.

Madholman on Mar 28, 2009


Stupid movie, stupid ending...his daughter would have had her ass ripped a billion times before he saved her and went on to a happy ending. Oh and thank god for that loose pipe he was hanging from at the end, otherwise it was over...just as unrealistic as watching Matt Damon pretend he is a badass in the Bourne movies. Like watching a pig-faced frat boy with beer muscles. Want to make a real story?? How about a regular guy who wasn't in the CIA and who's only friends are mailmen and truck drivers who goes to save his daughter?

Lokiluvcocky on Jul 16, 2009


I don't think that Liam Neeson is rusty, I really think he is very convincing as a deadly special trained kill-them-all ex-spy. This makes all the fun, watching professionals at work. Taken is a must see, great action movie.

Jackie on Aug 15, 2009

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