Don’t read this until you’ve seen “Taken” – that way you can form your own opinions and not be tainted by my screwed up analysis. I am not going to give you a synopsis of Taken – that’s not a review, that’s a retelling. Still there? That didn’t scare you off? Okay that said then, keep in mind that in the past three months I’ve only seen children’s animated films, I cannot stand gory violence and will not go see action films with gratuitous killing or frankly any sort of horror – imaginary or real. In general I feel those kind of films cheapen life and make death and killing a game – hence the state of our world. BUT all that said …. I really enjoyed Taken. Go figure? One of my companions pronounced the film “preposterous” but enjoyable and it certainly was. I think that is one of the reasons I liked the film. The action is not based on reality – but then what action film is based on reality. The majority of us go to the movies to escape reality for a while.
Really I think I enjoyed Taken because it is a well-crafted film. It goes from point A to point B and moves on without a lot of frou-frou. The editing and cinematography is clean and tight. It doesn’t spin its wheels or give us a lot of wisecracks or overwrought emotional explanations. We don’t get presented with anyone else’s problems – only his. Much like the lead character, the film has a job to do and sets about methodically doing it. I will admit the beginning of the movie is a tad slow – this is where we connect with the lead and decide that we are going to be on his side through the story. The story speaks to us through him – the father archetype, the protector.
The protagonist is the man that all fathers believe or wish they could be – the man who will stop at nothing to protect his child from harm. Except in this case of course, he has an arsenal of resources and special skills learned on the job as a “preventor” as I believe he calls himself at one point. The same job that caused his alienation from his daughter now serves to bring her back to him. Like I said, this film will resonate with dads everywhere.
I found myself rooting for this man – yes, me – the bleeding heart , anti-violence, anti-torture liberal. Liam Neeson’s character was purposeful. He had one goal and one goal only – to save his daughter and nothing stopped him from that goal. He didn’t stop to think, he just did. And yes, his cause was righteous and I was there with him until the scene where he is “interrogating” one of the men who took his daughter. And he makes a statement about the U.S. outsourcing this kind of “interrogation” to countries who did not have steady electrical systems, and how France’s power grid was dependable, etc. It walloped me in the face all of a sudden – I was rooting for Dick Cheney – well, okay that is not a wholly accurate statement. This man had a very clear cut, personal reason for torture and he had morals of sorts. But it didn’t make his actions any more correct. He goes on to shoot an innocent woman (not lethally but still, jeez, she was serving him dinner for cripes sake!) to get the information he needs to save his daughter. He wipes out bunches of bad guys…… and yet at the end of the film I was still kind of connected to the character. Not to get all Jungian on you (whoever you are who reads this) but I think it is because Neeson’s character is the pure representation of the Hero/Protector that we stay with him. He is only that – a father and a spy – he stays true to those two traits. At some level I think, we realize that he is a representation of a father’s love, of a hero on a quest, and not an actual depiction of a real man with grey areas and doubts. We know nothing else of him or his character other than what is necessary to move the action forward.
Mind you, I’m not saying this is a great film. But it is a good film.