Thursday, June 7, 2012

Taken (2008)

Cinema Sweetheart's Rating: 9 out of 10
Director: Pierre Morel
Starring: Liam Neeson, Maggie Grace, Famke Janssen
Rated: PG-13
Genre: Action, Crime, Thriller
Runtime: 93 minutes

Bryan Mills (Neeson) only wants to have a real relationship with his daughter Kim (Grace) again.  But, being a retired CIA agent really makes things difficult for their relationship; he was never there for her as a child, and now, his background makes him constantly paranoid. So, when she asks for his permission to go to France with her friend Amanda (Katie Cassidy), Bryan is naturally cautious.  Both Kim and Bryan's ex-wife Lenore (Janssen) are quick to reassure him, and he allows her to go with some strict conditions.  But, upon his daughter's arrival in France, Bryan's worst fears are realized.  A panicked Kim calls him, telling him that she and her friend are in the process of being kidnapped.  When one of the kidnappers picks up the phone, Bryan tells vows that he will find and kill him if he does not release Kim.  With the kidnapper's final taunting words "Good luck," Bryan sets out to save his daughter, no matter who or what stands in his way.

If there was one thing that this movie really struck home for me, it was to listen to your parents.  They know what they are talking about.  Even when they're cramping your style or taking your fun away.  Oftentimes, they do it because they are speaking from experience, and don't want to have something happen to you.  When you don't listen, things can happen.  I had one of those moments not that long ago, and while I won't go into details, I can safely say two things: 1.) It did not involve the Albanian sex trade in France and 2.) My dad was absolutely right, and I should have listened to him.  So, as I was watching Taken, my dad was constantly on my mind.

This really was a great film.  It had everything one would want in an action thriller: there was suspense, awesome fight scenes, not a lot of blood and gore, and a really epic storyline.  I watched this one with my brother, and we were on the edges of our seats from start to finish.  It was GREAT!  And besides just an awesome plot, the audience was presented with a main character we could all love and connect with.  Most of these action films have characters you can't fully understand because they're too hardened, too tough, or too cool.  Bryan was tough, but he also had a softer side which made him easier to understand.  In many ways, he reminded me of my own dad, and personally, that made him even easier to understand.  Liam Neeson played a wonderful father figure, and I loved the thought that even though he was a kick-ass CIA retiree, he was still a sweet, caring, gentle father.

I think what also made this movie so intense for me was that the sex trade is alive in Europe (and all over the world).  Sex trafficking is far scarier than monsters because it's really happening.  And as a woman, it's something that I hear about quite a bit.  Not saying that every time I leave the house, I'm afraid of getting roped into the sex trade, but it is something that you think about from time to time.  And since I've done some research about it for classes and such, I was able to nod my head and say "Yep, that's a huge red flag. Kim, don't listen to him!"

I think another thing I really loved about this film was that it handled its topic in a tasteful manner.  True, it was an action film, and there was a lot of violence.  But, the violence was handled in such a way as to make it bearable.  It wasn't overly violent.  There was not an overabundance of gore.  We got the point without having it shoved down our throats.  Also, this film IS about the sex trade, but I didn't feel that they over-sexualized any of the prostitutes.  I don't think I saw a single exposed breast.  Instead of taking advantage of the topic to make a sexual movie about sex, they kept it in its proper place.  The sex trade was not made glamorous; it was made disgusting.  And I think that was something that must have been difficult to do; it would have been easy to make it overtly sexual.

All in all, an amazing movie.  Liam Neeson was amazing, his co-stars were amazing, and the plot felt real and convincing.  Sure, there were some blips, but for the most part, I was convinced.  If you're a fan of action thrillers, international intrigue, epic fight scenes, or are a father who would anything to help your child in a time of distress (or perhaps the daughter who knows that her father would do anything for her), then you would love this film.  I know I did!

And I know this is not something I'd make a habit of doing on this blog, and I know he might not read this, but I just want to say THANK YOU to my dad....Thank you for being MY hero.

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