Bryan (Neeson) is a retired government agent, struggling to get back into the life of his teen daughter (Grace). But after shes kidnapped while holidaying in Paris, Bryan has less than four days to track her down.
Liam Neeson’s ill-judged presence should not cause you to even consider going within 30 feet of a fleapit that’s screening Taken. Here he plays an ex-spy divorcé who’s desperate to make up years of parental neglect to his daughter (an over-aged Maggie Grace). This involves Daddy creepily obsessing over her 17th-birthday present, trying to facilitate her childhood ambition to become “a singer” (this involves saving a pop star imaginatively named ‘Diva’ - Holly Valance, remember her? - from a crazed fan), and agonising over the fact that she wants to spend her summer holidaying in Europe. Terrifying, terrifying Europe.
Yet to Europe - specifically Paris - she goes, where within minutes of landing she and her slutty (read: dead-meat) pal are hoodwinked by a slimy Frenchman and kidnapped by sneering Albanian gangsters whose intention is to hook their victims on skag and sell them to cold-eyed Arabs for white-girlie sex. Turns out Daddy - paranoid parent and towering xenophobe that he is - was right. If a good little teenaged Caucasian strays even an inch beyond the mighty US of A’s borders, she’s pale prey to every godless, sex-mad, drug pushing foreigner out there. Hell, even Daddy’s ol’ French-spy buddy can’t be relied upon to help; he’s French! “Jean-Claude, I’ll tear down the Eiffel Tower if I have to!” growls Daddy, like a true American. Despite speaking with an Irish accent, this guy bleeds stars and shits stripes. He’s from a land where actions speak louder than words… So cue an hour or so of him brutally pummelling every foreigner who stands in his way, stopping only to torture a few. He even deliberately shoots one utterly innocent bystander. Call it friendly fire. Or rather, don’t. If you took Commando and replaced all its humour (intentional or otherwise) with snarling hatred, you’d end up with Taken - a risible male-re-empowerment fantasy set in a world where a fatal headshot and rescue from a life of inter-racial rape is the best way to win back your daughter’s heart.
Interestingly, it’s directed by a Frenchman (Pierre Morel) and produced by his longtime accomplice, Luc Besson. On the evidence of this, they’re now either self-hating freedom-fries munchers, or just knowingly manipulating US prejudices in the name of entertainment. We suspect the latter.
A venomous little actioner that mistakes bile for adrenaline.