Film: ‘Taken’ from ‘Man on Fire’

2008-09-14 00:00

Taken would have been a great film had it been released before Man on Fire. Now it’s good. The similarities between the two are just too stark to ignore. That said, it’s still definitely worth a watch, especially if you haven’t seen Man on Fire.

Let’s start with the positives. Taken is beautifully shot and edited. Director Pierre Morel has conveyed majestically the plight of a loving father desperate to rescue his only daughter from certain calamity. Morel’s style is unique and subtly original; it exudes undertones of art-house cinema.

Liam Neeson is simply astounding as Bryan, a retired spy — retired to spend more time with estranged daughter Kim (Maggie Grace). Working as a government operative left little time for house and home and ex-wife Leanore (Famke Janssen) divorced him as a consequence. Neeson’s performance is brilliant for the reason that he sticks to the basics: there isn’t that added edge to his character that we’ve come to expect from A-list actors cast in leading roles. He truly does come across as a credible human being, somebody you’d pass on the street and not take any notice of.

The supporting actors are outstanding as well, and convincing.

Taken’s plot takes mould when Kim and friend Amanda (Katie Cassidy) go on vacation to Paris and are kidnapped on their first day there, to be fed into the criminal underworld as sex slaves.

Bryan realises that he’s got fewer than a 100 hours to rescue them and rationalises using any means possible to achieve his desired result as just — much as in Man on Fire. Some scenes look so similar it’s impossible not to compare the two. Their filmic styles may differ vastly, but the material on screen is at times nearly a replica. Both use different camera and editing techniques to achieve the same outcome though (an uneasy, restless audience full of hope) and it’s for this reason that both are worth seeing.

On the negative, all of Taken’s great film making and credible performances are somewhat compromised by the James Bond-like action sequences — it seems Bryan is truly invulnerable and works his way through numerous life-threatening situations without breaking a sweat, really.

That said, though, many people enjoy the rush of blood to the head that’s delivered in tandem with fast-paced action.

There isn’t much more to criticise, really: on the whole, I’d say Taken constitutes a solid action-thriller.

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