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Taken Nonsensical Fun

Directed by Pierre Morel
Written by Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen
Fox, 2009

Luc Besson’s legacy will be films featuring the professional badass, often into the high points of lunacy.  It cannot be forgotten that his The Fifth Element was written when he was 15, and he has taken that mentality into all of his action flicks.  Regardless of whether Besson directs or not, his fingerprints are all over films like The Transporter and Unleashed.  He’s a kid entering his fifties.  More often than not, this kind of giddy action mentality backfires, reaching points of carelessness.

Taken is directed by longtime Besson cinematographer Pierre Morel, and it runs with the illogical, yet fun, idea that just because you are a badass, you can do just about anything that comes to your mind.  It’s the story of a man named Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) who is divorced from his suddenly wealthy re-married wife Lenore (Famke Janssen), and has a 17-year-old daughter Kim (the 25-year-old Maggie Grace) with her.  Mills is a security detail guy who used to work with the government and is a bit on the edge, so when his daughter comes begging for him to sign a consent form so she can go to Paris with a friend, he is of course not too keen on the idea.

But what movie would this be if he didn’t have somewhat of a change of heart and signs the form, leading to Kim and her friend Amanda (Katie Cassidy) into Paris, meeting one of those hot guys named Peter (Nicolas Giraud) who is actually a recruiter for an Albanian gang who sells hot, drugged-up jailbait to wealthy men in the ever-growing tourists-to-prostitutes skin trade?  I mean, really, what kind of movie would this be?  I’ll tell you…it would probably star Miley Cyrus and it would try to be a cutesy comedy about how fathers and teenage daughters don’t get along, and the trip to Paris would happen at the end of the picture, once little Miley shows her dad (likely a Chris Noth type) she can be responsible.

But of course, this is no movie for Hannah Montana to be strutting around getting into hackneyed mischief.  This is about badass Mills overhearing just a snippet of information over the phone with his soon-to-be-abducted daughter and turning that snippet into an enviable sum of information that Anthony LaPaglia in Without A Trace should be considered a pussy for not finding out sooner.  Mills zooms out to Paris and practically before the plane lands he’s already tackling the recruiter Peter into a cab, leading to one of the most ridiculous “gets run over by a truck” scenes ever created.  Mills then contacts a buddy in the French government named Jean-Claude (Olivier Rabourdin) who is only mildly helpful but in this movie, that’s like having the “orgy of evidence” from Minority Report.

Basically from here on out, Mills is going to find somebody and beat them or torture them, then kill them, kind of like what he promises he will do in the ubiquitous trailer.  And, it’s pretty fun to watch for the most part in that nihilistic way.  The movie is clumsily edited, but luckily we have Neeson to guide us through this mess and take us along for the ride.

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