One Bite at a Time




Monday, November 9, 2009

Taken

University of Maryland Family Weekend, Bouchercon, and the World Series are over, so we're back into our Saturday night NetFlix routine. First up, after a six week stay on the shelf, was the Liam Neeson action flick, Taken.

Take it. Please.

Good concept, Liam Neeson is a fine and likeable actor, and the opening execution was good, setting up the interaction between Neeson's character, his ex-wife, daughter, and his former buds from a government agency that is not named. The scene where he "witnesses" his daughter's kidnapping over the phone is tense and suspenseful. Neeson carries it off well. You can just about see his face switch from Concerned Father to Professional Spook as he tells his daughter what to do that will help him find her.

It's downhill from there.

The movie is action without suspense. It was made for American release, which means you know going in he'll get the kid back; Americans hate sad endings. The only question is how much trouble he has doing it, and how much collateral damage there will be.

The collateral damage is France. At least, Paris.

How much trouble he has is, frankly, none. He has several inconveniences and kills a lot of people for vexing him so when he's in a hurry. Every clue leads directly to the next step, with no searching or drama on his part. He sees a face in a photograph from his daughter's cellphone, and makes a logical assumpotion this is the man she met at the airport. He finds him immediately. At Charles DeGaulle Airport, no less. A prostitute he has rescued tells him of a house with a red door on the Rue de Paradis. He goes straight to it. No inkling of how much time it took, or of how much he has left.

The tension would have been much more effective if we saw some of his frustration, and an occasional dead end. As it is, the 96-hour window he's told he has in which to find her is never mentioned again. We don't know how long anything takes. Daylight and night seem to have no meaning. He never eats nor sleeps. He's just a killing machine until (SPOILER ALERT) he finds and and they live happily ever after.

The whole thing plays out like Transformers, but without the childlike goofiness.

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