Liam Neeson, a man known for his dramatic turns in films like Schindler’s List and Rob Roy, has managed to create a fall-back position as a gruff, aging action hero. Ever since Star Wars: Episode I “ The Phantom Menace he has picked up roles as a take-charge action veteran and he has never been more impressive than in Taken. Inspired by an idea by Luc Besson, who also acts as producer, Taken follows Jason Statham vehicle The Transporter, but precedes Lockout in the Frenchman’s ever-expanding list of exploitation films from his stable of new directors.
CIA field agent Bryan Mills’ (Neeson) life gets turned upside down when his daughter Kim (Maggie Grace) is kidnapped by Albanian mafia who plan to sell her into sexual slavery. Vowing revenge, Mills travels to Paris and begins a one-man mission to rescue his daughter and maker her kidnappers pay.
There really is little else to describe Taken as it is a formulaic revenge action film, what should be noted though is the slick presentation and the one-man wrecking ball that is Liam Neeson. In a less weighty performers’ hands, Taken‘s central character Mills would be a by-the-numbers action hero, but with the Neeson in charge the adrenaline is cranked up and each scene of violence and revenge leaves the audience giggling with glee. He systematically works his way through enemies in pursuit of his daughter and lets his natural charisma sell his character. There’s no need for any one-liners or quippy responses, like the best action heroes he lets his fists do the talking.
The plot of Taken, holier than the Pope as it is, doesn’t bother trying to make sense of itself and acts simply as a backdrop for Neeson to showcase his skills. It’s no wonder he was cast in The Grey after seeing his performance in Taken. Like the very best Schwarzenegger and Stallone films, he is utterly convincing and relentlessly brutal in his punishment of those who have done wrong.
He is the epitome of vigilante justice and it really shouldn’t be a surprise that Taken ended up taking a huge $226m at the box office from a meagre budget of $19m.