TAKEN tossed credibility aside like a karate-chopped ‘Thug #4 in elevator’, and focused on dishing out just-desserts to an array of slimes who audiences could vicariously enjoy receiving hero Liam Neeson’s righteous wrath. Death Wish meets James Bond. *
“I don’t know who you are. I don’t know what you want. If you are looking for ransom, I can tell you I don’t have money. But what I do have are a very particular set of skills, skills I have acquired over a very long career.”
When human traffickers seize a teenaged American girl visiting Paris, they weren’t counting on her father being a retired intelligence agent, lethal variety. No less than 35 of them will regret their employment choice.
“These taxis are so damn expensive! Want to share?”—just…walk away.
The script from Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen is streamlined pulp fodder, freighted with convenience, but shrewd enough to grok that there are a lot of us who will allow an action film, starring someone we like, to skirt—make that rocket past—plausibility if we can see a few of life’s most loathsome predators get anything justice can throw at them: we’re not talking community service sentences. Sex traffickers? Sympathy, move over, and give our pal Electricity a chance. **
Directed with an accent on velocity by Pierre Morel, edited for impact by Frédéric Thoroval, the $25,000,000 gambit on the Rule #1 of Retribution—hurt my kid, reap the whirlwind—struck primordial nerves to the tune of $226,800,000 and turned 55-year-old Liam Neeson into a one-man army of career mobility.
Cinematography by Michel Abramowicz. With Famke Janssen, Maggie Grace, Olivier Rabourdin, Leland Orser, Holly Valance, Xander Berkeley, Arben Bajraktaraj, Katie Cassidy (daughter of David Cassidy). From 2008, 90 minutes—all it needs to get the job done.
BadAss himself Neeson: “I thought it was going to be a straight-to-video release. That is actually one of the reasons I did it, to be honest. I felt like spending three months in Paris, I’d get to do all this physical stuff that no one would think of me for, and that the film would go straight to video. Then it became this big success. I was a tiny bit embarrassed by it, a tiny bit, but then people started sending me action scripts.”
Logic vexes while Vengeance pays off: four years later, Taken 2, upped the budget by another $20m (and doubled Neeson’s fee) and reaped $376,100,000. 2014’s wrapup, Taken 3, tagged $3m more on cost and reeled in $326,400,000.
In this first round, the traffickers are a gang of Albanian immigrants. In 2019 (slow on the uptake are we?), a ceasefire tourism campaign was launched. “Be Taken by Albania” included a petition signup imploring Neesom to visit and help them set the record straight.
** A loved one has been violated by the worst sort of fiend. You catch him. Tell me your first gut-reaction is to call the cops? Good luck getting permission to date my daughter. We’ll debate ‘proportional response’ after you regain consciousness.