We watched the movie Taken the other night – the one starring Liam Neeson, not the Steven Spielberg-produced miniseries about aliens. I was not impressed, although will readily admit that Liam Neeson was pretty kick ass as an action hero. Overall, however, this movie didn’t really cut it for me. Here’s why:
1) This is probably unfair, but when I was in grad school and took an Entertainment Marketing course (as if there is any rhyme or reason for the bullshit that is this industry), I learned some interesting things about what a release date says about a movie. Big, splashy mass appeal movies are released in the summer. Thought-provoking Oscar contenders are released in the fall/winter. And January and February are when the studios unload their crappiest movies because it’s a slow box office period anyway. This movie was released on January 30th. Enough said.
2) The script was pretty weak. While watching the movie, I was imagining this is how the project came about: “Hey, I have a great idea for some awesome action scenes! And we should get an older actor like Liam Neeson to be the slightly unlikely action hero! Write a script around that!”
3) My husband disagrees, but I think this was a propaganda film made by the conservative right. The plot centers around Neeson as some sort of retired government agent trying to make up for lost time with his teenage daughter. The daughter goes to Europe with a friend and they are almost immediately kidnapped, putting Neeson’s character’s ass-kicking skills to good use. Turns out, she was kidnapped by the Albanian mob for their underground sex slave trade. Now, it has been established earlier (via flimsy dialogue) that the daughter is a virgin, but her friend is kind of slutty (she wants to have sex with a boy she just met!). So Neeson’s race against the clock to save his daughter is essentially his race against the clock to keep her purity in tact. As you might expect, he does so in the nick of time. The other part that killed me is that ultimately, the bad guy who bought his daughter — and was mere moments away from deflowering her — was a Middle Eastern sheik. Of course he was. Because people from the middle east are terrorists, right? And terrorists want to take away our freedom! Oh, and the slutty friend is found dead. Apparently, that is the comeuppance for being slutty.
4) I love Lost and accepted Maggie Grace’s character Shannon as the spoiled little rich girl the show wanted me to believe she was. As Liam Neeson’s 17 year old daughter, this 26 year old actress made me wonder if she wasn’t, in fact, being typecast as a whiny bitch. Also, if you are 26, you really shouldn’t play a 17 year old, and if you are in this position and struggling with how to make it authentic, the answer is not to run around with your arms flailing like a crazy person in the hopes that it makes you seem young. You just look stupid.
Granted, this genre is not my favorite – give me an indie film about a dysfunctional family over a shoot-em-up/blow-em-up action flick any day. But, I like Neeson as an actor and think he deserves better than to be mired down by this silly piece of crap.