Thursday, May 21, 2009

Taken (2009): 6.1/10

Grade: 6.1

I had a blast watching Taken. Do not get me wrong; I thoroughly enjoyed this movie. My issue with it is that without Liam Neeson what would this movie be? I mean there are definitely other points of merit here which I will get to. The reason that this movie works though, and yes I am saying that I think the film works, is because of Liam Neeson. He is not the person you would expect to see in a role like this but it works so perfectly because for one you can take him completely seriously as a former spy in the film. The second reason and this is the important one; Neeson can immediately make you care about him and his character and his situation. Even during the set up sequences when you see that yes, he is a father who is trying to form a solid relationship with his daughter finally, you care completely. I was literally completely on this man’s side within 2 minutes. If you had someone else in the role, it would not have felt the same. There would be no emotional weight. Neeson carries the acting skills and the sympathy with him to make this movie a success.

Maggie Grace really works well here as well even though I cannot believe we are expected to believe she is 17 since I’ve was watching her on Lost 5 years ago and she was supposed to be older than that even there. Either way, her chemistry with Neeson is great and she has always known how to act in peril very well so the matchup works.

The second main reason that the film works is the pacing. This movie is 90 minutes, goes by even faster than that. Yet it still takes a good chunk of the movie to set everything up. I expected to get everything going within 15 minutes but the movie seems to take a good half an hour to set everything up and I loved that. Between this and the skills of Neeson, I cared about the plot. Once everything gets going, the pace really gets going and it really is a nonstop ride.
While it is nonstop, the action scenes did not excite me really and there are a couple of reasons. One is that I rarely become excited during action scenes. The film has been compared to the Bourne films but those films excite me in a way Taken could never dream of. The second is that, and I think this is both a flaw and a good thing; there is never any doubt that Neeson’s character Bryan will find the people and will succeed. The only aspect of the film that could give us any doubt is that he is a retired spy and might be a little out of practice. Other than that, which I did not see as something the film pushed, there is never a question of whether or not Bryan is going to succeed. Bryan is never thwarted by anyone in this film. He knows what he is doing the whole time. The one time he is stopped, he gets out of the situation so quickly and kills everyone in the room. So while this may be a flaw of the film, it also makes Bryan pretty much the coolest character ever and it funnels all of the anticipation from the audience from whether he will succeed to being excited about when he in fact will kill everyone.

So Bryan is fucking brutal. He will not simply injure anyone; he is always aiming to kill and when he has the opportunity to leave someone alive, he always kills them. This is probably not the best message to send and I was surprised that in this way, it was more anti authority than 24. However I cannot deny that these men all deserved death and it was just so satisfying to see Bryan kill everyone.

I cannot think of anything else to say about the film at this time because I am writing this paragraph 3 days after having written the rest of the review. Overall, the movie works because of pacing and the brilliant casting of Liam Neeson as Bryan Mills. While I still think most episodes of 24 are more exciting than this film was, I found myself interested throughout and certainly entertained.

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