Hey folks, Valkor here. I know I’m supposed to be writing post CES shit, but this couldn’t be helped and I wanted to get this review up ASAP. So I’m sitting at home resting my mojo after a long weekend and what should pop up on the screen? A preview for a film called “Taken” which stars Liam Neeson (Qui-Gon Jinn) and Famke Janssen (Jean Grey… yeah I’m a geek). Once I read the title, a chord was struck in me. Why does this movie sound so familiar? I was suddenly washed over with excitement. Through my many new sources I’ve developed in the industry, I recalled someone sent me a screener of the film. But I passed it off as something just so-so. But damn the preview looked so good that I ran to the Val-pile, rummaged through it and saw the title “Taken” staring up at me, laughing at me, mocking me “ha, ha you had me for a month and didn’t even know it!” Well now that I’ve watched it, I have to say this: Taken is first big hit, must see film for 2009.
The story of Taken is simple: Liam Neeson plays Bryan Mills, a former CIA spy and “Preventionist” now retired and trying to build up a relationship with his daughter, Kim (Maggie Grace). Mom, Lenore (Janssen) is remarried to this rich mogul and does her best to limit what Bryan can say/do around their daughter. One day Kim tells dad that she wants to go to Paris with her friend, but Bryan tells her no 1) she’s too young and 2) the world isn’t safe. Mom and daughter object, so of course Dad also agrees with a few conditions. And we all know from the commercial what happens; the daughter is kidnapped by Albanians and it’s up to Bryan, utilizing his skills to get her back. There are no major or crazy plot twists to the story, but what you get is a lot of action with Liam showing off some crazy moves torturing the bad guys until they spill their guts to the whereabouts of his daughter, all leading up to a tepid finale, ending on an “awwwww… isn’t that nice?” Yea… like that.
First off, as suspenseful as the commercials made this film out to be, I was quite surprised how well it carried over into the full feature. I’m talkin intense, gripping suspense. Ultimately the story is predictable, yes you know how it ends, but how it gets there is bad assery at its finest. I’m a huge fan of the Metal Gear games and Liam Neeson does some insane Snake Eater shit, all in the name of getting back his daughter. If you’re a Metal Gear Geek, watch the film to see what I mean? I swear if you made this film into a video game and chopped up all the cool bits into cut scenes, you would have one killer game. The people he meets, the contacts he makes, the things he does to the bad guys, what the hell he even shoots one of the bad guy’s wife, right in front of the guy. Now that’s bad ass! It’s one of the many things that Bryan does that you really don’t expect him to do, but I’ll be damned if he doesn’t do it and then some. Also waterboarding ain’t got nothin on Bryan Mills. I don’t wanna give too much away, but there’s one scene you’ll really get a “charge” out of. The rest of the cast do their part but don’t play any major roles. Famke just plays the tortured mom who you only see at the beginning and once again at the end that’s it. Maggie Grace is the captured daughter who you see at the beginning and again at the end. No one else really stands out because this is Liam’s film, he’s the focus, and you know what? I’m all in. It kicks ass and that’s all that needs to be said.
I think towards the end of the film, the producers/directors thought Liam was getting off a bit too easy as he kicks a lot of ass, yet doesn’t get a scratch on him. His moves are just too damn good. He should’ve gotten punched in the face or stabbed at least one time before the finale. It’s forgivable and really it’s nitpicking, but it would have also bumped up the suspense level a notch or two.
Jan 30th is when the film will be released and by the previews alone it looks to do well at the box office. But I wanna do my part to ensure that this film is given a proper audience. If you want a film full of suspense, exploding with action and loads of fun then “Taken” is definitely the one to see, accept no substitutes. Out of TOV 5 stars, I’m giving “Taken” 4.5 and it’s been Valkor tested, TOV approved.