Taken is a revenge movie. The hero’s daughter is kidnapped while on a trip to Paris. The rest of the movie is the story of him killing and maiming his way through the echelons of the kidnapping ring to rescue her. This movie was pretty dark and made a bit more disturbing by the fact that I am going to have a daughter soon… a daughter who will now never visit Paris alone, as I simply don’t have the skills required to protect her.
By “pretty dark” what I mean is that the main character basically acts like a psychopath. He kills or at least hurts nearly everyone he meets. Of course, the movie sets things up so that we cheer his actions; without the intro this would be a sickening story about a deranged thrill killer. The setup worked very well. Too well, in fact: I thought the end of the movie came too soon, and I wanted to watch Liam Neeson kill more people. My walk home was marked by violent fantasies of justified revenge.
These revenge stories are powerful and popular, because they play on our fairness, a major value. I think this explains the popularity of police shows, too… we like to see evildoers get their just desserts.
The filmmaking here is pretty basic. There were a couple of weirdly delivered lines, and Neeson’s phone call with the kidnappers follows Sidney Lumet’s advice to always go with the emotional truth and not the literal truth: which is a fancy way of saying that the call made no sense. The action is nonstop, though. For once I thought the trailers were very accurate: if you like what you see in the trailers you will not be disappointed by the film.
In the end I am not sure whether I liked this or not. It pushed my emotions around, but perhaps a bit too hard, and only in one direction. Still, it was decent for what it was, a hyper-violent story of single-minded revenge.