In all honesty, I’ve always found Liam Neeson to be extremely intimidating (check him out as Qui-Gon Jinn in Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace). It’s not just that he is as tall as a giant, but the way he speaks and his voice is as raspy as it is, it just scares you for some reason. Of course, he’s a sweetheart in real life and a genuinely good person. Yet a film like Taken can completely shift your point of view of him as a person for sure. Taken is one of the most original action thriller films, which has gone on to give birth to a fantastic internet meme and become an iconic action flick that you just NEED to watch.
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The Movie Review
The Mills used to be a family just like any other, Bryan and his wife Lenore, as well as their daughter Kim. However, after Bryan and Lenore separated, he barely got to spend any time with Kim who lived with her mother and her step-father. Bryan now works as a bodyguard for popular people, protecting them from any sort of danger.
However, when Kim goes on a trip to Paris, France, and is abducted. The spark of Bryan’s very specific set of skills will need to be rekindled, so he can ensure the safe rescue of his daughter. Now with nothing but pure conviction and a skillset he acquired over the years working for the government, Bryan Mills must race against the clock, and go through the deep underbellies of the darkest parts of Paris to save his daughter’s life.
Luc Besson was one of the writers for Taken, so it’s safe to assume that the writing quality of this film would be incredibly high. Combine that with cinematographer Pierre Morel who previously worked on Unleashed and The Transporter taking this film up as his sophomore directorial film; you’ve got potential.
What pushes it beyond just potential, to absolute amazing writing is writer Robert Mark Kamen on board, who was previously credited for The Karate Kid films, as well as Lethal Weapon 3 and The Punisher. With Luc Besson’s character writing and Robert Mark Kannen’s ability to turn writing into action screenplays, Taken was born to be an amazing film.
The director pushes the envelope with Taken, keeping the mystery of the abduction a secret until the very end of the film. It’s very easy to say where Bryan Mills’ moral compass lies, the thing best about the character is that he has none. That is what is shown in peak perfection here, as he essentially mows down hordes of enemies in search of his daughter.
There are two things that make that specific part of the film so darn engaging, the first aspect is the action. The action in this film is by far insanely superior to anything that Pierre Morel has worked on. It’s better than Unleashed, it’s leagues ahead of The Transporter. I initially thought that the action in this film wasn’t as substantial, however after watching the sequel I’ve come to love it even more.
It’s not just that the action is good, it’s that it’s realistic and feels like it belongs in the world of the film.
That being said, this film does nothing good when it comes to the actual cinematography, framing, and color palette. It looks bland, that’s all that I can say about the way it is shot. It has a resounding look of complete mediocrity.
The film has little to no color, as a result, it always looks drab and lifeless even though it really isn’t! I extremely don’t like the way this film is framed, with each shot being way too shaky (almost disorienting) because the camera operator’s hands were either very weak or they were instructed to shoot it like a wobbly mess.
Though I did prefer it to the sequels, the music in this film isn’t exceptional either. It’s a decent soundtrack that fits the world of the film but it doesn’t really do anything aside from that.
The Bottom Line
In conclusion, Taken had the potential to be one of the most exceptional action films of the 2000s, however, due to the technical inexperience of the director and the crew; it falls slightly short. It’s a film that serves a thrilling narrative, about a father who is on a race against the clock to save his daughter’s life.
It showcases this plot in the best way it can, yet while I do agree that the film has a brilliant script, some insanely good action scenes, and really good performances by Liam Neeson and Maggie Grace, the cinematography is a missed opportunity if I’ve ever seen one.