Monday, 21 September 2009

Great Action Movies - 'Taken'

Written by: Luc Besson & Robert Mark Kamen
Directed by: Pierre Morel

'Taken' is one of the most successful action movies of 2009 and for good reason. Let me sum it up - a former CIA agent goes on a bloody rampage when his daughter is kidnapped in France. It's not the most original plot in the world but like all great stories, the great stuff is in the characters. We don't care that this story has been done before. What we care about is how the characters deal with it.

The character in this case is Byran, played by Liam Neeson. I'm a huge fan of the Irishman but I'll be honest and admit I wasn't sure he could pull off this role. I didn't expect the action to be as good as it is. And it's really good! The first piece of action comes when Bryan is acting as bodyguard to a spoiled pop star. A guy attacks with a knife and WHAM! He's down in a matter of seconds. As Bryan says, he's a "preventer of bad things."

The great thing about the action in 'Taken' is that it's repetitive. But in a good way Let me explain: Bryan discovers that his daughter has been kidnapped. He then makes his way to France and beats people to bloody pulps until he finds her. He uses a combination of powerful slams and well-aimed strikes to the larynx, which are guaranteed to shut someone up and make them gag on the floor for a while.

It's incredibly realistic - the moves that Liam Neeson pulls off (with no stunt double) really would floor someone the way they do. There are no fancy flips and kicks - just the raw power of martial arts. It's like that throughout, so Bryan easily smashes his way through bad guy after bad guy, using firearms when necessary. In the finale, we come across someone who blocks one of Bryan's attacks. Yes, blocks! As soon as this happens, we know we're in for a ride. Bryan makes such light work of every other opponent, that when he takes more than five seconds to floor someone, the fight is incredibly tense.

This isn't just a film you'll appreciate for the stunning action, however. Very early on we establish Bryan's character, right down to the precision and care he takes when wrapping up a birthday present - this shows the attention needed for his former job. When Bryan's daughter (Maggie Grace) is taken, it really sends a chill down your spine. And Neeson's lines to the kidnappers are amazing:
If you let my daughter go now, that'll be the end of it. I will not look for you, I will not pursue you. But if you don't, I will look for you, I will find you, and I will kill you!
'Taken' doesn't have the makings of a family film - you'll want to get the Extended Cut to see the full, brutal action and lengthy torture scene. It's a rough, fast-paced, action-packed movie that everyone can enjoy......assuming you don't mind seeing someone get electrocuted! Truly exceptional in every way!


1 comment:

Liz said...

I genuinely irrevocably love this movie. It's a text book script - the character set-up, the build-up, the payoff - all done so well and the violence is utterly meticulous and on par with the rest of his Bryan's character. I think we've watched it about ten times already...obsessed? Not really - just happy to watch something this good.