Director: Pierre Morel
Screenwriter: Luc Besson, Robert Mark Kamen
Main cast: Liam Neeson, Maggie Grace
Running time: 93minutes
Language: English, French
Release dates: 27 February 2008 (France), 30 January 2009 (United States)
This is the first film in the Taken film series. Neeson plays a former CIA operative named Bryan Mills who sets about tracking down his daughter after she is kidnapped by human traffickers for sexual slavery while traveling in France. Numerous media outlets have cited the film as a turning point in Neeson’s career that redefined and transformed him into an action film star.
Former CIA agent Bryan Mills reluctantly agrees to let his 17 year old daughter Kim travel to Paris. His ex-wife Lenore and her new husband Stuart are all for it and Kim sets off with a friend. On arrival in Paris however, Kim and her friend are kidnapped by mobsters running a slavery-prostitution ring. Bryan’s only lead is a short snippet of a conversation from when Kim phoned him in a panic. With that, he’s able to identify the origin of the speaker and which criminal gang he’s with. Once in Paris, he quickly shows everyone connected with the case that he will stop at nothing to get his daughter back.
On paper, Liam Neeson would appear to be an unusual choice to play the heat-seeking missile of a man locked onto rescuing his daughter from sex trafficking Albanian hoodlums in Paris. He soon dispels any doubts with a masterful display of pent-up vengeance and calmly brutal expertise with cars, guns, knives and fists. Once the kidnap has taken place it’s non-stop action as he uses his CIA field skills to track down the baddies and start terminating them with extreme prejudice. Whilst the villains are crudely drawn, the violence is never cartoonish, being from the Bourne school of realism. It’s not the most densely plotted or sophisticated of films, but the pace is relentless and Neeson dominates the screen without ever trying too hard. Highly recommended.
— By Dash Riprock