Taken – Film No. 709

I was trying to convince my Dad to see the film ‘City of God’, my latest lovefilm rental by bombarding him with statements such as ‘its in every 500 best movies or movies you must see before you die list’ or ‘you won’t be a real film buff if you don’t watch it’. However the film I watched yesterday evening has provided the perfect ammunition to get my way; I sat through Dad’s latest lovefilm ‘Taken’, therefore the least he can do as a way of apology is watch my film.

The truth is I’m quite ambivalent about Taken, I could quite easily call it a tense, fast-paced and well structured thriller, but then I also find it quite shocking and ridiculously flawed.
Whatever attracted Liam Neeson to a role such as this is beyond me; perhaps he was anticipating comparisons to Jack Bauer, Jason Bourne and James Bond, but you know immediately he’s not a real hero, because his name is Brian. Brian Mills. The only credibility this film might earn is that it involves the sinister, often neglected issue of sex trafficking, a contemporary form of slave trade. However rather than use this as the point of focus its an excuse to feature an abundance of gratuitous violence. I imagine that the scriptwriter just sat down for a day and tried to list as many cinematic ways to kill a person.

There are so many flaws my brain is overloaded just thinking about which one to put first. Its completely unbelievable, unrealistic and far-fetched. Liam Neeson takes on several stupid Albanians at once, managing to escape and kill them all. Taken uses every generic and cliche plot device there is. Ridiculously amounts of foreshadowing, fight scenes, car chases, shootouts, foot chases, wall-climbing; I got a bit tired of it all after awhile. The daughter Kim barely makes it off the plane before she’s picked up by dodgy ‘spotter’ Peter, making petty pleas to her very stupid friend Amanda. I mean would you really let a stranger see where you’re staying? Let alone give him the exact address and tell him that you were on your own… Maggie Grace, as Kim, was not only utterly too old to play a 17-year old but she spent the whole film running everywhere like a 5-year old. Then after the whole debacle and trauma that she went to she appeared very undistressed; collapsing into her father’s arms and back to running and smiling everywhere when she got home. Her friend died, she was kidnapped, guarded in a house, drugged and almost made a sex slave, I thought she would have taken a little longer to recover.

The editing was impressive and I enjoyed the two moments when Liam Neeson got one over on his enemies; the phone deploy and the empty gun, but apart from that it was very sickening and frustrating. Can this really be called entertainment? The characters are flat, the script is formulaic; “I will look for you, I will find you and I will kill you” and worst of all its oh so predictable. Plus the famous singer is called Diva! You’d have thought something more original could have been used. But then again this isn’t a very original film.

Ah well, I have ‘City of God’ and copious amounts of gloating to look forward to.

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