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Category:    Home > Reviews > Thriller > Drama > Taken (2008/Fox Blu-ray)

Taken (2008/Fox Blu-ray)


Picture: A-     Sound: A-     Extras: B+    Film: B



I do not know what the constant Hollywood appeal is with films being based on kidnapped kids and the parents going after them.  I can think of many different films made in the past decade with this theme.  These movies serve one purpose, serious melodrama. Nothing seems to get to people more then a kid in danger, so everybody sympathizes with the parents, the bad guys are evil, the victims then overcome the odds and live happily ever after.  Great emotional movie experience.  Yawn!  When I first heard of Taken, my immediate thoughts were, here we go again.  Upon seeing Liam Neeson as the lead and a story written by Luc Besson, I began wondering if this film could actually be interesting. It was.

Liam Neeson is Bryan Mills, a retired spy that now wants to connect with his daughter Kim (Maggie Grace) after many years of being away from home.  He is divorced from his wife Lenore (Famke Janssen,) so when Kim and her friend Amanda (Katie Cassidy) want to take a trip to Paris they need his consent.  He reluctantly agrees and Kim goes to Paris.  No sooner then arriving, all hell breaks loose.  A tip from a man the girls meet at the airport leads a group of Albanian sex slave traders to their apartment with one goal in mind.  Get the girls and drug them up to be sold.  In the most original and excellently executed scene of all these kidnap movies, Bryan is on the phone with Kim as the kidnapping is taking place.  The kidnappers get Kim and Bryan tells them that his training is not what they want to deal with.  "I will find you, I will kill you".  Good luck, is the kidnappers’ response.  Immediately leaving for Paris Bryan uses his skills and connections, as he blasts his way through locations and people to find his daughter.

Besson’s writing here is similar to some of his recent action films like the Transporter or even Unleashed, but unlike those movies this one has a great actor (nothing against Jason Statham or Jet Li both whom I like) Liam Neeson.  It is an interesting role for him, quite unlike most of his films.  He carries the film and helps make it avoid the typical clichés.  Of the three main leads, Neeson is the only one perfectly cast.  Famke Janssen is horribly miscast and it really shows she lacks the range of a desperate mother.  Although the movie may want you to believe she knows Bryan will take care of everything which is responsible for here reactions or lack there of.  Personally I think it is the former.  Maggie Grace is also painstakingly miscast.  She does not look 17, nor does she act like a 17 year old.  She acts more like a goofy 10 year old missing some brain cells.  The film works because it is all Neeson.  The action scenes are believable and very well done.  There is a great scene in which Bryan goes into a brothel of sorts, which starts with hand to hand combat, then gun play, then a pretty fancy car chase sequence.  This is Pierre Morel's second feature, his first being District B13 (which is a fun action movie).  He knows how to deliver interesting action and not follow the same thing we repeatedly see in American action blockbusters.  It will be interesting to see his future films.

This is technically speaking a, top notch Blu-Ray. The picture and sound are both excellent.  The 1080p 2.35 X 1 AVC @ 34 MBPS picture is fantastic and I have not one complaint of this transfer.  The colors were exactly how the movie needed them to be, and no matter light or dark the high definition was clear.  The DTS-HD Master Audio (MA) lossless 5.1 mix is as good as that title suggests.  Dialogue sounds just as perfect as the many gunshots fired. It keeps a very even balance to the movie.  Fox has again made a superb Blu-Ray.

Extras include:

Both the Theatrical and Extended Cuts of the film
Audio Commentary
Making Of
Avant Premiere Featurette
Inside Action a side by side scene comparisons
Black Ops Field Manual
& the Digital Copy of the Extended Cut

While the movie is a very enjoyable one, it very easily could have been like the lame other similar themed movies, but with a great performance by Liam Neeson and a sound script by Luc Besson, Taken succeeds where it easily could have failed.  This is a must own Blu-Ray!



-   Nate Rutkus


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