TAKEN (2008)

Director: Pierre Morel

Writers: Luc Besson & Robert Mark Kamen

Starring: Liam Neeson, Famke Janssen, Xander Berkeley, Maggie Grace...

Rating: PG-13
Run time: 93 minutes

Genre: Action, Thriller, Crime

Available on DVD

Reviewed by Cherie Jung

Neeson's character objects when his estranged seventeen-year-old daughter wants to travel with a girlfriend to Europe during the summer but eventually relents or there would be no movie. Of course things go wrong practically from the moment their plane touches down. Neeson hears the abduction of the two girls during a cell phone conversation with his daughter. He's on his way to the rescue in a flash. What follows is a jumble of action and violence as Neeson tries to locate and rescue his daughter.

Perhaps my expectations were too high. I thought the movie looked exciting and interesting from the clips I had seen advertised. After watching the movie, I wished that I had not bothered. The movie trailers were far better than the actual movie, in my opinion.

First off, I had a problem with the opening incident that is supposed to let the audience know what kind of skills Neeson is bringing to the "fight," so to speak. His former friends/colleagues seemed sleazy to me. I wasn't convinced there was any friendship between the guys. I also didn't buy into the ex-wife/daughter/CIA dad relationship. I wasn't impressed with any of the casting, to be honest.

As the action unfolded and Neeson searched for his daughter, I kept thinking, it would only take a few seconds here and there to increase the tension, increase the suspense, and have the audience on the edge of their seats but I was repeatedly disappointed. I was reminded of how expertly the action sequences were handled in the Jason Bourne movies. This movie should have been -- or could have been -- just as exciting. It wasn't. The director took too many short cuts. Neeson's character procured whatever he needed at the time, without much effort or much explanation of how or where he got it. It's not so impressive if the audience is left out of the action because we sense that the film is plodding along from beginning to end and no matter what, everything will be okay in the end. Neeson will save the day. No matter how much Neeson's character was battered, I never for a moment thought he would be killed or not rescue his daughter. It reminded me of those "B" grade movies where no matter how many times you think they've killed the monster, he opens his eyes, gets back on his feet, and comes after them again.

I suggest you rent this movie before you buy it just to make sure you like the movie enough to own it.

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