TAKEN (2008)

Director: Pierre Morel

Writers: Luc Besson & Robert Mark Kamen

Starring: Liam Neeson, Famke Janssen, Xander Berkeley, Maggie Grace...

Rating: PG-13
Run time: 93 minutes

Genre: Action, Thriller, Crime

Available on DVD

Reviewed by James K. Lewis

Action fans, fasten your seat belts. We’ve heard the phrase that Hell hath no fury, a new ending might refer to a CIA Daddy whose daughter is abducted for placement in the sex slave trade. Neeson is a former black ops operative that he terms a "preventer." We hear some war stories among old cronies over barbeque, and we believe that Dad has some of those skills we heard him mention in the movie’s trailer.

Seventeen-year-old daughter wishes to travel during the summer, daddy is clearly over-protective and paranoid. Ex-wife (Famke Janssen) and rich new hubby (Xander Berkeley) believe that the responsible darling should see Europe with her girl friend. Devoted CIA dad demands such burdens as adult supervision and other old-fashioned details. The difference between Dad’s requests and what the girls actually do leaves room for abduction. The iron-curtain mafiosi who prey on young girls are pros.

As the abduction takes place, Dad is on the phone with his daughter. An abductor picks up the phone and Dad calmly (but intensely) suggests he release the daughter or die. Scumbag responds, "Good Luck." The response of this rational moviegoer, hearing the remote hang-up click by the perpetrator, "OK, Liam Neeson, Now what are you going to do?"

Dad’s very connected resources tell him there is a 96 hour window before the girl can be expected to be lost forever. Dad wastes no time getting to Paris and becomes fearless and lethal. Dad has connections, and not all of them are pleased to see him. He has a reputation for burning bridges. Just ask his French colleague’s wife.

The finest action screenwriters are collaborating and competing for results, lately, ranging from journeyman to spellbinding. While this isn’t "Gladiator," it can be spoken of in the same breath as "Man on Fire: (Denzel). Neeson’s character seems to possess some of the mad skills of Jason Bourne (Matt Damon), but this excellent shoot’em up has moments inspired by vintage kung-fu movies. If you like action, Liam Neeson, vengeance/come-uppance, or thrillers go for it on the big screen or get a hold of the DVD. Enjoy.

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