Taken is a wonderfully raw cinematic pleasure, with no time (let alone patience) for the subtleties and self-awareness that have occasionally seeped into the action genre these days; only time to watch Liam Neeson hunt down, interrogate, torture, and kill every thug, pimp, criminal, and shady businessman in Paris to rescue his daughter and protect her virginity, taking a nonstop shit all over the Geneva Convention in the process.
Liam Neeson plays someone whose name is unimportant because he's goddamn Liam Neeson. He's a retired CIA operative with a very particular set of skills that make him a nightmare to people like you. His seventeen-year-old daughter who mysteriously appears to be about thirty (Shannon from Lost playing a goddamn seventeen-year-old, I couldn't fucking believe it) is going on a vacation with her whorish friend to Paris, France. Liam Neeson spends hours freaking out about how she's going to get kidnapped in the dangerous, crime-ridden hellhole that is Paris (?!) but finally, tentatively agrees to let her go.
She and her friend then proceed to get kidnapped by an Albanian sex trafficking ring within five goddamn minutes of landing in the city and I near shit my pants with laughter.
Liam Neeson flies to France and kills goddamn everyone he meets to find her. Yes, he tortures with a smile, yes, he executes unarmed villains with glee, yes, he shoots a corrupt cop's innocent wife in the arm just to get him to talk, yes, he does it all to save the weak, helpless woman who cannot help herself, yes, he does it all in a seedy, crime-ridden Paris of corrupt cops and prissy liberals who can't help him, and no, he faces no legal penalty for his murders in the end. This is right-wing jerk off fodder in its most distilled form. That his daughter's slutty friend pays the ultimate price, thus fulfilling the right wing's secret fantasies of seeing sexually active women die for their promiscuity, should come as no shock to anyone.
Liam Neeson finally uncovers the horrible truth: that his virginal daughter is being auctioned off at a sex trafficking show and is won by none other than what appears to be a goddamned Middle Eastern sheik! No CIA operative will stand by while his white, all-American daughter is defiled by Muslim cock!
Liam performs his own personal jihad, powering through the Muslim lair to reach his daughter, machine guns blazing, sons of Allah dying by the dozens as the white CIA man fills their spines, guts, and skulls with ammunition. If you were to watch this movie with the Republican members of Congress this scene is about where you could expect most of them to reach climax and the lingering, musky scent of semen to fill the theater. Finally, the credits roll, and I sit, slack-jawed and struck dumb by the spectacle I've just seen before me.
Taken should by all accounts be a terrible movie - well, scratch that, Taken is by all accounts a terrible movie that should be starring some no-name B-list muscleman or a geriatric Steven Seagal. Yet there at the center of it all stands Liam Neeson, one of the great living thespians, lending the narrative and mediocre dialogue about a hundred-thousand times the depth and classiness it deserves. He pulls his weight in pure badass in a way that rivals Daniel Craig's 007. He's well in his fifties but if Liam Neeson glared at me and told me he was going to kill me I would run and jump out the nearest window and fall to my death so he couldn't hurt me. Liam Neeson is God.
It's a shame that the movie is PG-13 and has minimal gore because otherwise it has pretty much everything needed for supreme guilty pleasure; it's dumb as a rock and has a gargantuan body count and atrocious politics and no interesting characters, but it stands naked before the viewer without a shred of disguise or pretension and announces exactly what it is: streamlined-as-hell action. God bless it. We should all be so comfortable in our own skins as this fucking movie.
3 Stars out of 5