Neeson is more than up to the role of action hero in “Taken”
Thank heavens Liam Neeson is getting old. At 56, he’s “taken” a bit of a career turn playing a lethal black ops action hero, a type of role he’s apparently avoided throughout his illustrious career. But perhaps the meatier roles are getting thin these days, so who better to star in “Taken” than an Irish actor with the breadth and depth of the former Oskar Shindler, Jean Valjean, and Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn for crying out loud? (Not to mention the upcoming Abraham Lincoln in a pic by Steven Spielberg).
Neeson is a major reason “Taken,” a riveting, revenge thriller gets praiseworthy marks. The body count is as high as the amount of coincidences that seem to work out in retired CIA agent Bryan Mills’ (Neeson) favor. If you are willing to give the movie a little latitude, “Taken” is smart and fast enough to please most everyone.
Mills tries to make up for lost time with his now estranged 17-year-old daughter (Fresh faced Maggie Grace) and struggles for her attention with his unforgiving ex-wife (Famke Janssen) and her new mega-rich hubby (Xander Berkeley). He kills time eating Chinese take-out with his fellow retired agents, and helping with occasional security jobs like body guarding celebrity pop singers.
His worst fears about his daughters’ trip to Paris with a girl friend are confirmed when they get kidnapped and are forced into a sordid slavery/prostitution ring headed up by a gang of Albanian thugs. But Mills has skills, a “particular set of skills…” that allow him to make good on his promise to his daughters’ captors: “I will look for you, I will find you. And I will kill you.” It’s not hard to believe everything Neeson says on screen and so we have a Bourne-like manhunt story grounded in the gravitas of a tall, foreboding Oscar nominee who wears a friendly fury on his face like few actors.
There’s a point in these types of action films where plausibility flys out the glass- plated windows so pervasive in this genre, but if the film at least makes attempts to show a reasonable amount of reality then some type of standard has been met. Could a trained killing machine recognize the source of a two-word statement by a foreign stranger recorded on a cell phone? Yes, if we see him studying it meticulously. Would he shoot, without killing mind you, an innocent to prove a point? Who knows? But it makes for a great action picture moment.
Speaking of killing, if you’re going to be a killjoy and dwell on this film’s implausibilities, stay home and let the rest of us enjoy the rush.
Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence, disturbing thematic material, sexual content, some drug references and language.