"When I was a soldier stationed in Germany in the 1970s there was a raid on a Turkish-owned bar on the outskirts of Frankfurt A/M. German Polizei and US CID (US Army Criminal Investigation Division) broke up a white slavery ring that had been operating out of the bar for some time. The bar was a way-point in the transportation route of young European girls (preferably blonde) who had been kidnapped throughout Europe and were being smuggled to be sold in the harems and brothels of the Middle and Far East. The police found some twenty girls in the basement of the bar, some from as far away as Denmark and the Netherlands, waiting to be shipped further down the pipeline.
The German police and Interpol had been watching the bar for some time and were hoping to trace the route farther down the track to take down the ringleaders. The white slavers made the mistake of kidnapping the daughter of a US Army colonel whom they thought was a German national. The Colonel learned about the investigation and refused to allow his daughter to be held by the white slavers and victimized so the police could gather intelligence. As it turned out, I learned later, the raid eventually did lead to the disruption of this particular ring because the guys busted talked.
So, when I learned what this film was about I went in with a certain amount of understanding of the subject matter. Let me say here that this film hits the nail on the head in presenting its subject matter and the way young women are victimized by ruthless animals only out to make a buck. (SPOILER) The scenes where they show the young women being made into drug addicts to control them are particularly disturbing to me as I've seen the impact drugs had on young girls working as unlicensed street walkers in Germany (a nation that legalized prostitution to make it "safe"). As disturbing as the film was I am glad I watched it and if I had a daughter (I had all sons) I would make her watch this film when she reached an appropriate age in hopes it would make her more careful in how she behaved when I wasn't around to protect her. This is a film every parent should watch - it is a film every teenaged girl and boy should watch. It's sad, but things like what happens to the girls in this movie go on every day.
Having said that, the next question is, is the movie good?
Well, I've never seen Liam Neeson deliver a bad performance. Even if I didn't like the movie (and he's done a couple turkeys) he has always been superb. No exception here. Sadly, most of the negative comments about this film seem to be from people who don't like action movies. But Neeson elevates this even above the typical action movie. This is a story of family. When I watched Neeson's reaction to what happens to his daughter and his response I imagine it is what Natalie Holloway's daddy wishes he could have done, what every father of a child who has been abducted and brutalized wish they could do.
As a professional soldier and former martial arts instructor I find Neeson's action scenes are superbly executed and realistic. Don't look for a superhero leaping tall buildings with a single bound, but watch an expert, who may not be as young as he once was, doing what he knows best for a good cause. The fights are brutal, ruthless, and efficient, pros doing what they do. Even the violence is understated, brutal, but avoids the spectacular many audience have come to expect. What Neeson does is violent but considering the circumstances and motivation, necessary to save his girl. Great stuff.
The alleged coincidences do not strain or insult the intelligence overmuch, this is an action movie for folks who think. Of course, if you thought "The English Patient" deserved the Best Picture Oscar you'll probably hate this film. Otherwise, it is a don't miss. Neeson brings to the revenge flick empathy and gravitas lacking in other such films.
As I watched the film I thought of that Army colonel fighting Interpol and the German police to save his daughter. I hope he was able to see this film, I think he'd approve."
Let God sort 'em out...
Honest John | Falls Church, VA United States | 05/13/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is one of those great action movies where the hero isn't burdened by doubt, ineptitude, or guilt. He knows what he has to do and he does it coolly and ruthlessly! What he does is kill bad guys... Lots and lots of bad guys of all nationalities, races, and creeds who deserve what they get. Very efficient and ecumenical...
I lost count, but Liam Neeson must have killed about 50 bad guys in this one. And they keep on spawning so he has more to kill. I haven't seen one hero take on so many bad guys who keep on reproducing since Steven Segal made "Hard to Kill"...
The action is non-stop and the retribution is very satisfying. There is a lot of violence, but this is not an explicit blood and gore film. Just good old Hollywood movie violence that hits you at the gut level. "Taken" is a nice vicarious vigilante thrill for all the rest of us who must play by the rules. Liam Neeson does an excellent job! Highly recommended for action fans..."
Liam goes into action mode to rescue his daughter!
Dennis W. Wong | 04/04/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I was skeptical when I heard that this movie would be produced by Luc Besson (The Professional, La Femme Nikita), the go to man or the French Joel Silver of action movies since some of his films have been hit and miss. This turns out to be a hit (it's already grossed $143 million thus far) thanks to the casting of Liam Neesom (Schindler's List; Rob Roy). A physically imposing actor of great presence, Neesom brings this physicality to the role of an retired CIA man brought back into action when his daughter is kidnapped in Paris. What ensues is 97 minutes of breakneck action and Neesom is totally convincing in this role. It may lack the complexity of the Bourne series but if you like your action movies to be lean and mean--this is the flick to see!!"
Besson you've done it again!
James Lewis | Raleigh, NC USA | 05/18/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a review for the 2 disc version: Taken blew me away. It's a tight, well written action flick. Luc Besson wrote and produced this and the character building of Bryan (Neeson) reminds me a lot of "The Cleaner" in Leon: The Professional, which was an earlier work of Besson's. The action reminds me of the Bourne series but more satisfying in a way than Bourne. The first 30 minutes is awkward. But a lot of what Besson writes is awkward, but charmingly awkward. The extended cut is the European cut. They decided the American audience couldn't handle some of the scenes. There is NO nudity in this film at all and none in the extended cut.
But what you get on the 2-disc version and not on the 1-disc is the following: "The Making of 'Taken'" (18:22) - a featurette of the making of. "Avant Premiere" (4:37) - video of the premier night in Paris "Inside Action: Side by Side Comparisons" (11:05) - what it says Plus, two tracks of commentary. The second disc is nothing but the digital copy which is extremely annoying.
Is the 2-disc worth it? If you are a hardcore fan of Taken, then yes. If not, then buy the 1-disc cause that also has the extended cut. Buying the 2-disc is worth it for the commentary and 18 minute featurette.
Cons: For me, the let down was the acting by Maggie Grace, but I'm not sure it's her fault. She is in real life a 25 year old woman and here she is unconvincingly playing a 17 year old teenager. I'm not saying she's a bad actor...she just doesn't pull off the age thing right. Her portrayal doesn't kill the film, and at times she nails it but at others it's just weird. They should have gotten an actress closer to 17 in real life. Even the ending was not realistic but I'm not sure it was Grace's fault. But at the same time she only endured the ordeal for less than 96 hours so I guess she might not be as traumatized as one would think she should be.
Taken is a solid popcorn flick. One you can watch and have fun with and it gets the nerves going too."
Janelle Turner | Chicago, IL | 06/28/2009
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Yeah, I got my movie, it was GREAT! but was fooled into thinkin that I was gonna get lots of bonus features with it being a 2 disc DVD in all. And there was nothin "extended" about the unrated version, there were no scenes in the movie I haven't see already, so that sucked. I could've gotten the 1 disc and not missed anything, the 2nd disc is nothin but a digital copy! I didn't need that. Sneaky and false, and sheisty DVD packaging companies! They tell you 2 disc extended edition to make some extra cash off people, they trick you into spendin the extra dollars because you think you're gettin somethin extra than the 1 disc, it's nothin! PLEASE BE CAREFUL YOU READ EVERY WORD BEFORE YOU BUY, BECAUSE THEY HOPE THAT YOU GET FOOLED!"