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Review

Action scenes compensate for poor plot in ‘Taken’

Avatar

February 5, 2009

Some movies are made strictly for action scenes.  They forego requiring a good plot and acting in order to focus on the fight scenes. This can be said for “Taken,” but unlike most movies that follow this format, the action sequences and the acting of Liam Neeson make what should be a mediocre film a good one.

The creative force behind the movie definitely has something to do with its quality. When three men who have worked together to write, shoot and direct action movies in the past come together to write and direct a more serious film, the result is incredible. With Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen’s script, director Pierre Morel was able to bring to life one of the most ruthless and efficient assassins that audiences have ever seen.

Liam Neeson’s character is a retired spy who has given up his job in order to re-establish a relationship with his daughter. He has become paranoid of the outside world, especially the world outside of the United States because of what he has seen on the job.  When his daughter asks to spend a summer overseas, he first resists but eventually gives in to try to look like the good guy to his daughter. His paranoia is soon justified when his daughter is kidnapped while talking to her on the phone. Suddenly the true nature of his character is revealed.  From this point on, the audience is treated to one of the fastest, most brutal and entertaining revenge stories to have been put on the big screen.

To say that this film does not borrow a lot from other spy and assassin stories of recent years would be a lie, however it is cleverly masked with quick one liners or other dark comedic devices. Yet, the chase sequences seem to have come directly from those of the Jason Bourne series. The torture techniques are borrowed from Tony Scott’s “Man on Fire,” as is the kidnapping storyline, but the film separates itself from it by not requiring an overabundance of blood and gore.

The other fault of this film was the acting of the entire supporting cast, especially that of Neeson’s ex-wife and his daughter. Also, luckily for the audience, most of the bad guys do not last long enough to have more than 10 spoken lines anyway, so we are more taken in by the fighting than the poor acting. The only exception to the poor acting is Neeson, who is completely convincing as the jaded former spy forced out of retirement.

What truly separates this film from the others is quite plainly the action sequences themselves. The main character makes short work of all those before him with a mix of gunfire and hand to hand combat, and overall makes both Jason Bourne and James Bond look like complete pussies. Generally one is looking for something more than just pure adrenaline pumping action, but this movie does it well enough that one can forgive its other shortcomings, if not overlook them completely.

So if one just plainly needs something to turn their brain off to and enjoy this is the movie for them. However, if one is looking for an award winning story and performances, they’re definitely in the wrong theater. Overall, this film warrants the attention of all audiences, if for no other reason to see what action sequences should actually look like.

3 1/2 stars ouf of 5

Nathan Piotrowski is a digital film and television major with a film studies minor. In his spare time, he attempts to be a professional lottery winner.