Taken (Pierre Morel, 2008)

"I don't know who you are. I don't know what you want. If you are looking for ransom, I can tell you I don't have money. But what I do have are a very particular set of skills; skills I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you. If you let my daughter go now, that'll be the end of it. I will not look for you, I will not pursue you. But if you don't, I will look for you, I will find you, and I will kill you."

These are the stern words uttered by Liam Neeson’s character to his daughter’s kidnapper over the phone. 15 years ago, this movie would be dubbed as “Die Hard in Paris”, but I guess now it is hip to say Taken is like the “male menopause Jason Bourne came out of retirement kicking ass”. Taken is a French movie produced and co-written by Luc Besson (together with his long time collaborator, Robert Mark Kamen). Chances are, if you stumbled upon a French actioner for the past 25 years, most likely it come from the direction / script / production of the big man himself.

This movie merely opened in US after most of the major oversea markets already did. It’s ironic to know the US distributor 20th Century Fox previously aim for a straight-to-DVD release, most likely due to bootleg version is ready to be downloaded from the internet some time ago. However, you just can’t put a good action thriller down, as it had surprised everyone by grossing more than 140 mil in the US box office alone (over 200 mil worldwide).

Taken is about an ex-CIA agent (Liam Neeson) go to Paris to search for his teenage daughter, and how he hunt down the kidnappers and those involved in part of the human trafficking and sex trade. Can you imagine Liam Neeson as credible action hero prior to this movie? Neither do I. but, what a surprise, He absolutely nailed the character! The beginning of the movie shows his doting side, as a father reluctantly allows her daughter to travel to Paris with her friend. As the movie progress, we found out he is almost unstoppable when he is on search and destroy mode, he is a protective father, and a no-nonsense, intense bad ass who will not give up finding his daughter. Imagine if Steven Seagal replaces Liam, you will still have the same slick visual style of revenge movie but Liam made the movie totally amazing. He is the real reason for you to watch Taken.

A regular Luc Besson’s follower will probably knows there are some slick fist fight scenes, vehicle chasing, on-the-foot chasing (sorry, no parkour here) as usual.
But bear in mind this is no Léon, Besson best flick to date. And let’s not kid ourself, as good as the central character can be, you only can expect nothing more than a pure adrenalin rushing high octane actioner with some low level of realism wrap around it. Oh, did I say Liam Neeson kick ass, hard?

1 star = Pathetic, SowYau feel ashamed of watching it
2 stars = Off the mark material, approach with caution
3 stars = Generally good, you should watch it if it's your favourite genre
4 stars = excellent, strongly recommended
5 stars = A classic status? only time will tell. But it is definitely in SowYau's Hall of Fame List