Taken (2008) review

Taken posterDirector: Pierre Morel

Starring: Liam Neeson, Leland Orser, Famke Janssen, Maggie Grace

“I don’t know who you are. I don’t know what you want. If you are looking for ransom, I can tell you I don’t have money. But what I do have are a very particular set of skills, skills I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you.

If you let my daughter go now, that’ll be the end of it. I will not look for you, I will not pursue you. But if you don’t, I will look for you, I will find you, and I will kill you.” (Bryan Mills, Taken)

Taken is one of those films that chooses to be completely ridiculous from start to finish, has absurd levels of action, packs plenty of unrealistic coincidences throughout its plot, leaves umpteen gaping plot holes in its wake, then flicks you a folded piece of paper and tells you that it contains information on the number of fucks it gives. Then, when it drives off on its flaming motorbike, you unfold the paper and look inside. It’s blank.

Liam Neeson plays Bryan Mills, a retired CIA agent who’s given up everything he had to move near his daughter Kim, who lives with his ex-partner (played by Famke Janssen). Since he cares for his daughter so much, he’s overly protective of her and as such is concerned when she asks him if she can go on holiday with her friend. Mind you, it’s understandable – she’s only 17 (even though she looks older… mainly because she’s played by a 25-year-old).

Get used to this picture, you'll see it a hell of a lot
Get used to this picture, you’ll see it a hell of a lot

It turns out his suspicions were spot on when, during a phone call to him, Kim is abducted from her French rental apartment by a bunch of Albanians who have dodgy plans for her… I won’t ruin the specifics but needless to say they’re probably fortunate she’s actually 25.

It’s here where things start to get ever-so-slightly unrealistic, as Bryan sends the recording of the phone call to his CIA buddies and finds out the exact region the kidnappers come from. He then heads to Paris to find them, and despite the city having a population of over two million people he finds a lead almost instantly.

The rest of the film consists of Mr. Neeson working through the speediest investigation in film history, effortlessly kicking lumps of shite out of countless bad guys and ne’er-do-wells along the way, racking up a higher body count than a mannequin factory in the process.

"Dad, in case they take me away there's something I need to tell you... I'm 25, not 17"
“Dad, in case they take me away there’s something I need to tell you… I’m 25, not 17”

There’s also a rubbish sub-plot with a wet blanket of a French detective (played by Leland Orser) who looks like a third-rate Kevin Spacey and keeps trying to catch Bryan, even though he knew him back in the day and knows what he’s capable of. But that’s really just been added to extend the running time a little – all this film is clearly about is Liam Neeson tearing shit up.

Taken is a mindless action movie, but it doesn’t promise to be anything else. Sometimes all you want to do is switch your brain off and watch an Irishman plough his way through a bunch of Albanians in France, and Taken scratches that oddly specific itch perfectly. The baddies are so nasty that every broken neck, shot chest and electrocuted pair of thighs (yes, really) is justified, so it’s actually quite the feel-good romp. And naturally, it all ends well… at least, until Taken 2.

Taken is available on both DVD and Blu-ray in the US, and DVD and Blu-ray in the UK too, which is nice. The UK also has a DVD double pack with Taken and Taken 2. It’s not available for streaming at the moment.


2 thoughts on “Taken (2008) review

  1. The success of Taken 1 has probably contributed to high expectations for the sequel (which pales in comparison to a large degree). Nonetheless, love that it gave Liam Neeson’s career a new direction as an action hero. Nice review!

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