Taken (2009)

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A retired secret service agent is trying to make amends with his estranged daughter when she is kidnapped in Paris by white slave traders.

On paper, Taken is a very straightforward, almost tired sounding idea that you’ve heard a thousand times before. It’s an unpretentious action thriller that plays out like a revenge story, except there is a goal outside of vengeance; a father’s unstoppable wish to protect his daughter from harm. The first 30 minutes is the usual predictable and slightly clumsy exposition, but once Liam Neeson springs into action it becomes an altogether different beast. Neeson is not the kind of action hero who looks like he’d shy from a fight for the fear of mussing his hair; instead we have an ageing Irish terminator cutting a swathe through the kind of evil bastards even a guilt-ridden white liberal such as myself feels a tingle of pleasure to see brutally disposed of. The appearance of Holly Valance is a little embarrassing and sits about as comfortably as pink frosting atop a T-bone steak and made me suspect that her agent beat the producer at cards the night before shooting, but otherwise it does exactly what is says on the tin. Plotless in almost a pleasing way, this is kind of like James Bond going rogue except “this time it’s personal”; there are no stereotypical terrorists threatening our fat cat white christian way of life, no shadowy conspiracies or megalomaniacs, just a single-minded feast of adrenaline fuelled action that I really enjoyed.

One for the “guilty pleasures” file.

7/10

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