Taken (2008)
Country: France
Directed by Pierre Morrel
Liam Neeson, Maggie Grace, Famke Janssen, Leland Orser, John Gries, David Warshofsky, Kate Cassidy, Holly Valance
Music by Nathaniel Mechaly

Luc Besson’s Europacorp is almost becoming a sausage factory pumping out one slick action film after another. But these sausages taste pretty good – they’re not your thin BBQ style; they’re nice fat juicy continental sausages. Some of the recent links in the sausage chain include the Transporter films, Crimson Rivers and District 13.

Taken is one of Europacorp’s latest productions. It is written by Besson and Robert Mark Kamen (who wrote Transporter 3), and directed by Pierre Morrel (who guided District 13). The star is Irishman Liam Neeson. Neeson is the films greatest asset because he gives the film a sense of realism, which if it was missing, would render the film as another violent exploitation flick.

The story is a pretty simple one. Bryan Mills (Neeson) is an ex-spy. He has given up his life of international intrigue so he can be closer to his estranged daughter, Kim (Maggie Grace). This isn’t as easy as Mills envisions it to be. Kim is now seventeen years old and lives with her mother, Lenore (Famke Janssen) and a wealthy step dad. They spoil her rotten, and Mills cannot compete financially with Lenore and Kim’s new dad.

Kim has reached that age, which rich girls do (or at least in the movies), where she wants to expand her horizons and see the world. Coupled with her best friend Amanda they have planned a trip through Europe where they will follow, from city to city, the rock group U2. Mills reluctantly allows his daughter to go on the trip, but only on the proviso that she will call him every night.

On the girls first night in Paris, Lisa is talking to her father on the phone when a group of Albanian gangsters break into the apartment where the girls are staying. Brutally they kidnap the girls. Mills hears the incident take place over the phone. As you can appreciate, Mills is not happy about his daughter being taken, but as an ex-spy, he has a skill set and connections that enable him to launch into a rescue mission.

I know it’s a storyline that you’ve heard again and again. Steven Seagal almost made a career out of rescuing kidnapped family members in a brutal fashion. Thankfully Neeson is a fine actor, and at times underplays the scenes so this film does not spiral off into an over-wrought revenge thriller. Instead it’s a passable time killer, which covers little new territory, but it has been slickly put together, and with a runtime of under 90 minutes it won’t eat up too much of your day.

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