Don’t be fooled by the Bourne comparisons, the semi-highbrow cast, the Parisian setting, or the fact that Luc Besson had a hand in this – Taken is as dumb as action films get. A tedious, ill-conceived parade of gaping plot holes and bone-cracking fistfights, you can only imagine Liam Neeson signed up just for the exercise.
Neeson’s Bryan is a retired super-spy, but far from any kind of ingenuity and stealth the formidable special skills he boasts of to his daughter’s kidnappers apparently turn out to be ‘blundering into rooms’, ‘killing people remorselessly’ and ‘producing an IV drip from nowhere when the situation demands it’. Worse still, any mystery about who’s nabbed his spoilt-brat daughter is dispelled within a couple of minutes of it happening – he gets his ex-spy buddy to analyse a recorded phone call and everything is revealed. Oh, right… that’s that then.
All that’s left is scene after scene of up-close neck snapping and point blank executions, an incomprehensibly edited shaky-cam car chase and some nasty sub-Jack Bauer ‘information extraction’ which sours the tone further. Any sympathy you have for Bryan’s plight soon runs out once his cold, clinical methods are revealed.
Perhaps the film was meant to analyse the lengths someone will go to in order to protect their offspring. Perhaps it was supposed to raise questions about what is acceptable behaviour when dealing with scumbags. Or perhaps it was just supposed to be an ass-kicking rollercoaster ride. It fails on all counts – Neeson’s a poor man’s Rambo, and Paris is his Burma. You’d expect better from all involved.