In recent years, I have begun to enjoy the thrills that action-packed films provide. On occasion they even showcase some tender moments (yes, you read that right, I said, tender). Such is the case for Taken. In a way it’s sweet to think of the love a father held for his daughter (never stopping until she was safe), while at the same time making you cringe at the picture of lifeless bodies strewn everywhere, killed by a merciless man bent on finding his daughter.
One of the best government agents there was, Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) is now retired to be closer to his seventeen-year-old daughter Kim (Maggie Grace). Attending his daughters’ grand birthday party at the home of his ex-wife, Bryan is hit with the realization that he cannot give her everything her wealthy stepfather is able too. Feeling particularly down, three of his agent buddies, talk him into joining them for a “one night only” job protecting a pop star in town for a concert. While there, he receives a call from “Kimmie” asking him to lunch the next afternoon. Expecting it to be just the two of them, he’s surprised when Lenore joins them. Instead of a nice father-daughter lunch, Bryan learns all Kim wants is his permission and signature to travel to Paris with a friend. Telling her he’ll “think about it,” Kim leaves upset. Knowing the dangers of sending minors traveling overseas as a result of his job, against his better judgement, Bryan gives in, much to the delight of his daughter. With a long list of stipulations, Bryan sees Kim off at the airport, never realizing it may be the last time he sees her alive.
The first thing that really grabbed my attention for this film was my dad commenting about a radio host having seen it. Eventually, it went on my “to rent” list, thinking my dad might enjoy it, before I too became mildly interested in the premise. After many “skips” at the video store, I finally picked it up, only to be pleased at not only the outcome but having spent the two hours watching it. Taken is many things – it may be billed as an action flick and trust me it doesn’t disappoint on that front, but it has other things going for it that are altogether touching and frightening to experience. The father-daughter relationship was especially reason for applause and I loved the fact that Kim truly loved her father, no matter what his reasons were for being absent almost her entire life, and despite not understanding them. There is a big difference. Normally films chose to portray the child as being rebellious, angry, disrespectful or just plain hurt at their parents’ lack of participation in their life. To see something that chooses a different tactic was refreshing. Kim wasn’t perfect and still had moments of confusion or like any teenager was annoyed that her father was so overprotective, but beneath it all she wasn’t disrespectful. The only disappointment of her character is that she once lies to her father which was a big use of mistrust on her part.
Likewise, Bryan was a loving father who realized that not spending the time with his daughter she deserved would result in her becoming a virtual stranger. His dedication to finding her is living proof. Throughout the whole film, his first thought is always Kim. She was his one weakness and we see that through his permission of her Paris trip, which is obviously against his better judgement. During her abduction, Kim is on the phone with her father, which provided us a terrifying depiction of reality: Can you even imagine hearing the screams of your child as they’re being taken? Performances were excellent; veteran Neeson was superb in this role, as usual. His depiction of a desperate father deserves praise, while the older Grace gives Kim all the right characteristics of a teenager (she’s giggly, bouncy and innocent); she captures the essence of the role. I thoroughly enjoyed this film despite its harsh realities and sad scenarios. It provided lots of breath-holding, edge-of-your-seat thrills and by the conclusion, viewers can relax knowing that everything came out as well as possible, due to a pleasantly sweet ending. If nothing else it makes us aware of the many and real dangers that are out there, while being a poignant reminder that dad really does know best. His advice or decisions should always be taken respectfully.
Bring on Taken 2.
(Rated PG13: there are lots of tense moments [seeing Kim abducted]. Numerous men die; a man is hit by a truck [impact unseen], another is tortured “to death” by being shocked in a chair, numerous others are shot, stabbed and/or die in horrific crashes. A woman is threatened and shot in the arm; another is shown lying lifeless on a bed. In a sickening sequence, men “buy” time with the women who were recently taken; they are drugged and taken advantage of [they are unaware of what is happening]; we are given brief shots into the many separate “bays” [nothing terribly graphic]. The girls are basically turned into prostitutes. Remarks suggest one girl is “pure; her friend urges her to lose her virginity, while she herself boldly states that she’s going to sleep with a man she just met. Two scenes show girls dressed scantily for “buyers.” A girl is held hostage with a knife to her throat; it’s never made clear whether or not one girl was assaulted. Profanity is also a problem [including an f-word and a crude gesture], misuses of the Lord’s name are uttered. A girl lies to her father in order to secure approval, while a friend justifies it.)