Owain Paciuszko 05/10/2008
I have read some very negative reviews of 'Taken' decrying the film as vile and xenophobic, though one particular review came from a magazine that also praised 'Eden Lake', a film that is paranoid and superficial (and quite vile) in the extreme; that film was also a solid 3/5 horror thriller. Admittedly 'Taken' does include enough fear of the foreign and bleak story strands to upset delicate sensibilities, but alongside that it does have a strong enough premise, a charismatic enough leading actor and a satisfying dose of ass kicking to keep one interested.
Liam Neeson plays paranoid father and former government 'preventer' Bryan, having recently retired in order to be closer to his daughter he is very worried about a trip to Paris his 17 year old offspring has planned. No sooner is she off the plane she, and her friend, are kidnapped by anonymous thugs whilst daddy listens in over the phone. So, Bryan jets over to France to get his daughter back by any means necessary.
Thanks to a slow set-up and the loosely-based-in-reality human trafficking plot Bryan's quest is punctuated by cathartic revenge set-pieces, and the lack of morals displayed by the lead character are not so much offensive but genuinely enjoyable. So often have I seen films lately where you want that villain to get what he deserves and he just doesn't get it, here everyone gets it.
This film is nothing special, but it is a nice, direct and punchy (quite literally) thriller.