Paranoid parents are never a fun subject and can usually be dismissed as being overbearing. This is not the case in the new film “Taken” starring Liam Neeson and Famke Janssen.
A relatively new director Pierre Morrel (Benlieue 13) directs the film. The story is about a man named Bryan Mills who used to work for the government protecting Heads of State. He retires this dangerous life after his wife and he divorce so that he can be closer to his daughter who he has neglected inadvertently through his dedication to his rigorous job. Not helping Bryan is the fact his daughter’s new stepfather is filthy rich and can afford to buy her a new horse on her birthday as well as send her to Europe to follow around a rock band.
The film spends its first 45 minutes establishing the relationship between Mills and his daughter. Neeson seems out of place in the role of an American dad and his thick Irish accent isn’t very convincing. He tries his hardest but can’t seem to bring any authentic humanity to this father. The dialogue between him, his daughter, and his ex-wife Lenore (Janssen) seem ripped from just about every other story dealing with a divorced family. The character development in the first half of the film seems formulaic and doesn’t present much originality in the characters. There’s the over protective father with a past that no one else understands, the unlikeable ex-wife who just creates problems, and the free spirited not so bright daughter.
The second half of the film picks up after Mills’ daughter is kidnapped in France by an international organization that specializes in the trafficking of young women. However, even the typical gadgets and car chase scenes can’t seem to get this film off the ground. We knew that eventually this tame suburban dad would snap back into his old killer self but he never does anything that the audience can walk away with and talk about. He has friends in the foreign government who can track a man down by the sound of their voice. Nothing clever, original, or inspired happens that would make the audience grow attached to Neeson’s character or his plight.
A fairly straightforward film that borrows heavily from tired old clichés and sentiments. Taken isn’t unwatchable, just not memorable.