A former spy (Liam Neeson) puts his extensive training to the test when he must rescue his kidnapped daughter from slave traders.
Liam Neeson, Maggie Grace, Famke Janssen
A satisfying thriller as grimly professional as its efficient hero, "Taken" pairs the ruthless hand-to-hand combat of the Bourne series with the potent child-in-peril plotline of a Lifetime original movie. The story of an ex-CIA spook (Liam Neeson) who trains his deadly skills on the Albanian slavers who have kidnapped his daughter, "Taken" delivers action, car chases, gunfights and just enough queasy exploitation to make you feel bad about yourself afterward.
Bryan Mills retired from his CIA job to be closer to his daughter, 17-year-old Kim (Maggie Grace, noticeably 25), who lives in California with her mother (Famke Janssen, in a role even more thankless than all her other thankless roles).
Kim wants to spend the summer in Europe despite the qualms of her dad, who sees danger around every corner. Needless to say, Bryan is right: Kim is nabbed less than an hour after landing at Charles de Gaulle airport, and it falls to her father to rescue her from the sex-slavery ring that plans to sell her to a sheik. Neeson flies to Paris with the clock ticking on the defilement of his little girl.
But if you can look past the ludicrous (and morally suspect) premise of "Taken," you're rewarded with the sight of Neeson -- an actor criminally underused by Hollywood -- tearing through the Parisian underworld, karate-chopping left and right, shooting anyone who gets between him and his daughter. The idea of Neeson passing unnoticed through the back alleys of Paris is a hilarious one, and director Pierre Morel takes great pleasure in filming Neeson towering over the criminals he confronts.
"Taken" is perhaps best viewed as a cautionary tale for nervous fathers. Its message: Dads, don't let your little girls go anywhere or do anything, ever.
-- Dan Kois (Jan. 30, 2009)
Contains violence, disturbing thematic material, sexual content, drug references and language.