‘A’ for action

And a B- for the rest—but the rest is incidental anyway

Starring Liam Neeson and Famke Janssen. Directed by Pierre Morel. Feather River Cinemas, Paradise Cinema 7 and Tinseltown. Rated PG-13.
Rated 4.0

Don’t mess with Liam Neeson. Seriously, that guy is a badass.

From the trailers alone, I was enticed by Taken. Neeson explaining the “special skills” that he would use to hunt down and kill whoever had kidnapped his daughter … ooh, it sent shivers up my spine.

And I would be lying if I said the whole movie didn’t have that cool edge to it. Most of that is Neeson’s doing. His character is just so calm and collected, so larger than life on screen, so justified in his almost nonchalant way of killing people. Aside from one major break in continuity (don’t tell me a CIA agent with “friends” in Paris doesn’t speak a lick of French), Taken is possibly the best non-comic-book action flick (The Dark Knight) I’ve seen in quite some time. It might even have gotten a better review had it left some of the intro scenes on the chopping block.

Neeson plays ex-CIA agent Bryan Mills, whose daughter, Kim (Maggie Grace), is going on vacation to Paris with a friend. He happens to be on the phone with Kim when intruders break in to their Paris penthouse. He vows to find them, flies to France and prepares to wreak havoc. As promised, asses are kicked, shot and karate-chopped. Neeson reaches badass proportions.

It’s almost not even fair to give credit to anyone other than Neeson in this film. Everyone else is secondary. And while he’s excellent throughout, it’s when the film tries to be a drama that it falls short. Scenes between him, his ex-wife (a cold Famke Janssen) and Kim are cliché, and the interaction between Mills and his old CIA buddies seems forced, as if these introductions are really just in place to get the action rolling.

But that’s OK. Because once the car chases get going and the body count starts to rise, you forget about all that incidental stuff anyway.