Schindler’s List 2. This time it’s personal.
Taken (2008): 6 out of 10: Taken comes this close to being great. It had an admittedly rocky start with Liam Neeson is trying to reconnect with his virginal 17-year-old teenage daughter in a way that seems just on this side of creepy. (Dude, get your own girlfriend… really).
Next thing you know, swarthy bad guys, who clearly have never heard of Satan’s succubus Nancy Grace, are kidnapping rich American girls and making them drugged out street walkers or selling them for millions to Arab Sheiks based on whether they are virgins or not?
So ex-CIA estranged father Liam Neeson has 96 hours to find his daughter before she is “gone forever” deflowered and then thrown in a harem, apparently. “A Fate Worse than Death” you can almost hear the characters thinking.
It’s as if Charles Bronson was guest starring in an Ilsa the Wicked Warden film located in George C Scott’s Hardcore and the entire enterprise was PG-13. And yet the film still works two-thirds through. Liam Neeson is more than fine. He is kicking ass on all cylinders. It’s the bad guys that drop the ball.
First a rich French guy starts quoting The Godfather. “It’s not personal, it’s business” For starters, the quote isn’t even in context. He might as well have told the gun toting Liam Neeson “may the force be with you” for all the sense it makes. Second, you can’t quote The Godfather without referencing the fact that you are quoting it in the first place. Any screenwriter who does that should be sleeping with the fishes.
The second slap to the head is an Arab Sheik character that looked like he stepped out of a 1940’s Bugs Bunny cartoon. Honestly, I don’t know where to begin on this silly stereotype. Why is he in the film? Why does he have a knife to the white virgin’s throat? Who would Oskar Schindler shoot????
That last point seems important since the Arab is basically a Juden in a dress. Same large noses, same aversion to pork, same living in ghettos in Europe (Or/and having all the money), same secret organizations paying off French politicians, same affinity to despoiling white Aryan virgins… The more things change the more they stay the same I guess.
Overt French xenophobia aside, Taken is a fun ride for most of the trip. (The dinner with his French policeman friend and Frenchman’s wife was a particular highlight) And, as I mentioned, Liam Neeson kicks ass.