There’s something surprisingly and lovingly familiar about Liam Neeson”s new action vehicle Taken. It’s not that Liam Neeson completely rocks no matter what he does. It’s also not that this film follows in the footstepsÂ of other lesser genre action films from the “written by Luc Besson” canon by being far better than it’s parts than it has any reason to be. Or that you manage to enjoy the scene that you enjoyed so thuroughly in the trailer. Nope. The real reason why is because it’s in many ways a replica of that wonderful 80′s actioneer Commando starring Arnold Schwarzenegger.
I grew up on Commando, and find myself sitting through most of it every time it comes on television, throwing it into the DVD player whenever I’m feeling nostalgic, or searching for youtube clips when I need a good laugh. Last year I happened to meet Vernon Wells on the Los Angeles Burlesque Circuit. He got onstage and quoted some of those great lines as Bennett that I love so much, “I”m not going to shoot you between the eyes, John, I’m going to shoot you between the balls!” Truly a wonder, that man. And that early obnoxiously, Columbian styled score by James Horner…long ways to go before that Oscar, eh, James?
I digress, Taken takes many of the only good things from Commando and does many more wonderful things with them. Liam Neeson’s character can pretty much accomplish anything just by doing it, as Joh Matrix could. And why shouldn’t he be able to? He was part of a government task force unit that went in and stopped problems before they happened he tells his daughter. I can almost hear Schwarzenegger’s other great line from another great movie “Yes, but they were all bad.”
Soon Neeson’s innocent, underage daughter is kidnapped from a fancy apartment in Paris, but not before she’s able to leave hints and clues to her father over the cell phone, and before Neeson gives that chilling monologue to the unseen abductor. When he says he’ll find him and kill him, everyone in the audience believes it. But just how far Neeson goes to get her back is sometimes gleefully surprising. Besson (the writer and director of classic actioneers like The Fifth Element, The Professional, La Femme Nikita) brings home the bacon with several clevery devised hunting and murdering scenes.
Unfortunately for both Neeson and Besson they’re working with a mediocre director who has problems bringing to life things like…car chases…the car chase in this film is so poorly filmed it’s memorable! The scenes that bristle most are the ones in which Neeson are aloud to single handedly, deal with these baddies hand-to-hand. How he first finds these baddies makes little to no sense, it’s in the pleasure of how he deals with them that’s inspiring.
Fortunatley, for Neeson and Besson they manage to hop over the single line of dialogue that has poured out of every actor in a kidnapping their kids movie in the last two decades, “Give me back my son/daughter!” From Mel Gison, to Dennis Quaid, to Angelina Jolie, this line of dialogue has been given every reiteration possible. Thank you for not letting Neeson have to spurt it out!
With four other actions films written by Besson on their way (one in which he’s directing) and Neeson perhaps signing on for a second Taken film and other action movies, I look forward to more smallÂ pleasures in the future. And judging by the box office take on this film, so is the rest of the world!