Movie Review: Taken’s “Particular Set of Skills” Make It a Success

Bill Stoklosa

If you are looking for a movie with a sophisticated plot, stellar acting and thought provoking subject matter, then Taken is not for you. However, if you are looking for a movie that will have you grinning from ear to ear throughout, despite the plot’s implausibility and downright absurdity at times, then Taken is for you. I, for one, love the escapists bad guy beat down that is Taken and have to say that going to see it was the most fun I’ve had at the movies in a long time.

The plot, if you really care, revolves around Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson), a retired CIA operative who is trying to repair his relationship with his 17-year-old daughter, Kim (Maggie Grace), who is in the custody of his ex-wife (Famke Janssen), and her new ultra-rich husband. Bryan gets his daughter a karaoke machine for her birthday, but he just can’t compete with her step-father who gets her a horse. How sad for Bryan. Luckily this sappy nonsense is over in about 15 minutes because Kim wants to go to Paris with her 19- year-old friend Amanda and needs Bryan’s consent. Bryan grudgingly agrees because he doesn’t want to upset Kim.

Naturally, Kim is in Paris all of ten seconds before she and Amanda are kidnapped by some nasty Albanians involved in international sex trafficking. For some inexplicable reason, one of the Albanians picks up Kim’s cell phone while Bryan is on the other end, giving Bryan a chance to utter the immortal line, “I don’t know who you are. I don’t know what you want. If you are looking for ransom, I can tell you I don’t have money, but what I do have are a very particular set of skills; skills that I have acquired over a very long career; skills that make me a nightmare for people like you.”

Even though I had heard this line several times in previews, I still got a huge kick out of it when I heard it uttered on screen. And it turns out that Bryan does indeed have an impressive set of skills which he uses to kill those responsible for his daughter’s kidnapping, all the while tracking down Kim.

The movie is action-packed and excitingly filmed by director Pierre Morel. The action scenes are also usually very easy to follow, which is a departure from such confusingly photographed action thrillers recently like Quantum of Solace and American Gangster. Neeson’s performance is certainly not comparable to his portrayal of Oskar Schindler, but his character’s devotion to his daughter and his coolness under pressure make it almost impossible not to root for him, even if he is brutally violent in his quest to save his daughter.

The level of violence is high, and frankly, I was surprised this film received a PG-13 rating. Of course, the whole fun of the movie is that good and evil are so well defined that Bryan’s rampage is loads of fun to watch. When it comes right down to it, I think having fun is what going to the movies is all about, so in my book, Taken is a resounding success.