A Review of Pierre Morel’s “Taken”

Don’t Be Taken for a Fool, 3 February 2009
4/10
Author: David H. Schleicher from New Jersey, USA

And now producer/writer Luc Besson and director Pierre Morel present the comedy event of the year!

Here’s the pitch: Two spoiled obnoxious teenage girls from California go to France and get kidnapped by a group of Albanians trafficking dumb tourists into sex slavery to the highest bidders–and you guessed it, one of those high bidders is a Middle Eastern sheik. But oh yeah, did I mention one of those girl’s fathers just happens to be a retired Jack Bauer-style super-spy who’s about reign down a sh*t-storm on the streets of Paris in order to rescue his idiot daughter? And guess what–it’s Liam Neeson!

Yes, there is a bit of a novelty factor in watching the guy who played Oskar Schindler go against type and get crazy on these moronic dirt-bags. And gosh darn it, Liam does his best with the role. I can’t remember the last time a film was sold to the American public entirely on the sound of one man’s voice reading dialog. He alone makes the otherwise unbearable film watchable. However, let’s be honest. As much fun as it is to watch Liam Neeson outrun a speeding car or electrocute some guy or kill a dude with a broken bottle, Clint Eastwood’s Gran Torino was a far better and more refined example of grizzled old guy “badassery”, and it was a hell of a lot funnier, and fancy that, had a moral.

What we have here in Taken is tone deaf French filmmakers sticking their nose up at Americans and spreading xenophobia abroad. I’m pretty sure they thought there were making a slick black comedy that no American would see through. Had they manifested this with a harder edge or more overtly satirical tone, they might’ve been on to something. Instead we get a second-rate episode of “24” watered down by a PG-13 rating that takes away any possibility of entertainment on even an exploitative level.

Bottom line: Don’t be fooled by Liam Neeson’s voice. He commanded our attention in the teaser trailers, but this should be film not taken.

Originally Published on the Internet Movie Database.

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3 comments on “A Review of Pierre Morel’s “Taken”

  1. Longman Oz says:

    I have not seen a trailer yet for this film, but there has been a radio spot running for it. Bearing in mind that I am from the same island as he is, I have rarely heard a sillier tough guy accent than the one that Liam Neeson adopts for “Taken”. He sounds more to me like a plummy old professor reading aloud from a book that he wrote and that no one else much cares about! In the scene in question, he is supposed to be threatening to bring down the thunder on some foolhardy baddies. As a result, I am thinking that this film has both Thanksgiving and Christmas turkey written all over it and your review confirms that!!

    Nevertheless, it is both funny and interesting that his accent is a hook for other people to go see the film!

    Longman Oz, it’s interesting you point out Neeson’s accent. I think it’s more his tone that grabbed people’s attention. You don’t often hear a tone like that, so calm and, well like you said, sounding perhaps like “a plummy old professor” reading lines that are meant to instill fear. His whole persona and performance was very odd. And then of course there are all the plot holes and misplaced sentimentality that made the whole film even stranger. –DHS

  2. Forrest Hartman says:

    Hi David. Haven’t seen this one and probably won’t until I review the DVD. And, from your review, it sounds like that’s a good thing.

    It’s always great to read your thoughts, so keep ’em coming.

    Forrest, so many people have been raving about this, but if I can steer even just one person clear of it, then I have done my job! –DHS

  3. Sam Juliano says:

    The film does remind me of DIRTY PRETTY THINGS, but of course it’s far more forgettable and pedestrian. I agree that even Eastwood’s new movie was at least more engaging.

    Here’s the scoop:

    “What we have here in Taken is tone deaf French filmmakers sticking their nose up at Americans and spreading xenophobia abroad. I’m pretty sure they thought there were making a slick black comedy that no American would see through. Had they manifested this with a harder edge or more overtly satirical tone, they might’ve been on to something. Instead we get a second-rate episode of “24″ watered down by a PG-13 rating that takes away any possibility of entertainment on even an exploitative level.”

    Can’t argue with that David! Leave to the French! Ha! I do like some of Besson’s earlier work though!

    The tone of your review (not to mention the writing of course) is pitch-perfect!

    Sam, nice mention of Dirty Pretty Things, a far superior work that was also echoed in Eastern Promises, yet another slickly done and more engaging flick than Taken. I must say I did enjoy Besson’s The Professional (aka Leon) but it’s all been downhill since. –DHS

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