Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Review - Taken

While sitting on a dinner date with Lynette the other night, we randomly decided we'd see what movies were playing and try to extend the date. Taken was playing and Lynette was very excited. She called the sitter and we hit the theater.

I knew nothing about this movie until Lynette told me about it. The basic gist is that there's this guy (Brian) who used to be some sort of special ops military elite force but is now retired so he can be near his daughter and "make up for lost time." He's very paranoid (based on real threats he's dealt with) and highly protective of his daughter. After turning 17, his daughter wants to go with a friend on a tour of Europe. Brian is naturally nervous but finally concedes to let her go. And naturally, shortly after arriving, she's kidnapped. She calls her dad while the kidnappers are in the apartment and Brian records the conversation and even talks (threatens) briefly with the kidnapper.

From that point on, the movie continues to increase in intensity. There are brief segments of slow "detective work" as Brian works with old friends and co-workers to figure out who has his daughter and why. These investigative segments are generally fairly short but spaced adequately between the intense action sequences so as to provide a nice breather. Brian rampages throughout Paris on a vendetta to infiltrate the "female trafficking" organization that's taken his daughter and somehow find her and get her back.

The flow of action felt fairly believable throughout the film. There were a few times that felt a little strained or over-the-top, but for the most part, it felt realistic. One of the main things that got to me was his lack of sleep over this multi-day hunt. Most definitely he was running on so much adrenaline that he probably could have kept up the momentum, but when combined with the constant running and fighting he had to do, it got to be a bit of a stretch by the end. It also got a little bit over-the-top when he came out of situations with impossible odds (a la James Bond...one versus 10-20) without being wounded. I was somewhat glad when he finally got shot up and cut up towards the end.

The theme behind the kidnapping (trafficking of women) kept sticking in my mind and I found my thoughts wandering at times. I've seen a few specials and read articles about the actual truth of situations like this...and it makes me sick. It's absolutely disgusting to me that such things go on in our "civilized" world. As a result of these thoughts, I was torn...As Brian encountered each of the players in this world, there were very few that he left alive. Even those who finally gave him the information he was after ended up dead at his hand. The moralist in me is angry at his dispensing of justice in that way. At the same time, I'm reminded of something I've once read about it being "better that one man should perish than that an entire nation perish"...and while these men weren't causing entire nations to perish, their actions were destroying the lives of hundreds and thousands of people.

Overall, I really enjoyed this film. The storyline was tight and well played out. The pacing was great in that the transitions for action to drama and back was well balanced so you didn't get too worn out from non-stop action or too bored with nothing happening and thus concerned for a realistic outcome.

The main complaint I have (and I've decided I may make a separate ranting on this) is the cinematography. Once again, we are presented with film work involving shaky, quick-cut, outrageous POV, etc camera work. I understand the intent of these...trying to put the viewer more directly in the action and make them actually "feel" the intensity of the situation. But for me, it becomes too disorienting and sometimes nauseating. This film didn't do it as often as some others I've seen in recent years, but it was still enough to annoy me when it happened.

Apart from the camera work, I enjoyed the movie and would recommend it to those looking for a fast paced and intense action flick. The theme is a little "dark" but not so heavy as to be a downer.

4 stars

1 comment:

Kevin said...

I mostly agree. I think you maybe thought a little too deeply about this. I see movies as entertainment so most of the things that bothered you didn't bother me as I watched it. When I spent time afterward thinking about the realities depicted in the movie of course they disgust me as well. Nice review.