Friday, 11 May 2012

Taken (2008)

I'm retired, I'm not dead!

I get the feeling that it was Taken that really started Neeson's re-branding as a badass action star; and it's easy to see why. At the start of the film Neeson's character - Bryan Mills, a retired CIA agent whose wife (Famke Janssen) left him for another guy - is trying to reconnect with his estranged daughter. He's still quite an intense guy and finding it hard to let go of his previous life. When his daughter goes on holiday to Paris and is kidnapped by a human trafficking organisation Bryan's old instincts kick in, and he doesn't waste a second tracking down the abductors. And my god he goes for it!

As soon as he hits Parisian soil, Mills is completely brutal and has absolutely no compunction about beating up, torturing and killing anyone. Neeson is amazing in this role, single-minded, determined and indomitable. For a big feller he can fairly move and he seems to be a natural in his action scenes. The action is very slick, and is filmed so that it is all very fluid and dramatic; I guess director Pierre Morel has learnt a few things about action when he was camera operator and DOP for two of The Transporter films.

Having just seen Famke Janssen squeezing the life out of people with her thighs in Goldeneye, it was quite nice to see her act here. Even in the X-men I don't think she gets to do much, but I was quite impressed by her here. She was very believable being exasperated by her ex-husband, and was suitably crushed when learning of her daughters kidnap. She only had a small role but was very good in it.

An action-packed, brutal thriller that is dragged kicking and screaming into the class of great films by Neeson's tremendous performance. It has taken (!) me a while to get around to seeing this film; I say it like this because I've been aware of people raving about it for quite some time. I have to say that the recommendations weren't wrong. No wonder Neeson was fairly hot property after this.