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Taken (2008)

Review: written Mar 2009

Efficient albeit grim thriller

Taken (2008)

Liam Neeson plays the lean hard guy surprisingly well in this efficient if brutal thriller.

He is divorced and has given up his career as a government agent of some description, to be near his 17 year old daughter, who lives with his ex-wife and her new rich husband.

When she is kidnapped on a trip to Paris, all his expertise kicks in to get her back. And really, that is about it - in an era of sophisticated thrillers with labyrinthine plots, the narrative here seems very simple and told in straightforward linear fashion, with few if any surprises.

And yet, it works - because it is lean and fast - the action is brutal and frenetic in close-up-Bourne-style, and once events kick off it really does not let up until the unsurprising conclusion. Neeson is lithe and believable as a trained killing machine, giving the film a huge boost of credibility, otherwise lacking in the plot.

There is it has to be said a mean streak in Neeson's character at odds with the family man, as he mercilessly kills off any and everything that gets in his way. In fact, it becomes almost unpleasant that the film is purporting an American has a right to do whatever he likes in Europe to protect `his own', including torture, on the spot assassinations, and untold collateral damage.

However, watched as a straight action flick, this is entertaining enough, as long as you have a strong stomach for the unpleasant underbelly of Paris dying as faces are smashed into hard objects, bullets shatter limbs, and others die in... well, let's say shocking ways. (At least that’s if you’re watching in the ‘extended harder cut’ available only on Blu-ray, the version I watched). All in all, it's a bit like an urban Rambo, reinvented for a new generation.

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