out of Five
Running time: 93
Superbly directed, with a terrific performance from Liam Neeson, this bone-crunching, arse-kicking action thriller is one of the guiltiest pleasures of the year.
What's it all about?
Liam Neeson stars as Bryan, an ex-CIA agent who has moved to LA in order to be near his beloved 17-year-old daughter Kim (Maggie Grace). When Kim heads off for a European holiday with her best friend (Katie Cassidy), Bryan is reluctant to let her go and his fears prove justified when she's abducted by evil Albanian sex-traffickers less than an hour after arriving in Paris.
Luckily, Kim manages to phone Bryan before her captors discover her hiding place, so he sets off to rescue her, using the particular set of skills at his disposal. But will he be able to save Kim before her precious virginity is auctioned off to the highest bidder?
Directed by Pierre Morel (District 13), Taken is a full-on assault of spectacularly violent action scenes as Bryan kills pretty much anyone who gets in his way: doormen, drivers, henchmen, punters – anyone who's even remotely connected to the sex traffickers ends up either dead or hospitalised (usually dead). Aided by some superb great effects, Morel orchestrates a series of terrifically exciting sequences that are easily the best fight scenes since the Bourne movies.
Neeson is terrific as Bryan, blasting through Paris like a vengeance-obsessed hurricane. He's utterly convincing as a brutally efficient killing machine, but he also nails the emotional scenes so you actually care about his character, even if it quickly becomes apparent that he's virtually indestructible.
The only wrong note is a badly miscast Maggie Grace, who's frankly too old to be playing a virginal 17-year-old (she's 25). To make matters worse, she plays it like she's got a mental age of 12, at least if her weird running style is anything to go by.
It might be on some morally dodgy ground, but for sheer action-packed entertainment, Taken is one of the guiltiest pleasures of the year. Highly recommended.