Taken (2008) – Pierre Morel

 

The 101 Action Movies list lets Liam Neeson take center stage in this action thriller from producer/writer Luc Besson, and directed by District 13’s Pierre Morel, so you know the action is gonna be fast, rough and violent…

Neeson stars as Bryan Mills, a retired government operative with a unique set of skills, who did so to be closer to his daughter, Kim (Maggie Grace) as she grows up. He doesn’t get along so well with his ex-wife Lenore (Famke Janssen) and her husband, Stuart (Xander Berkley), and he’s very aware of how bad the world can be.

When his daughter goes on a trip to Paris, against Bryan’s better judgement, she is taken by sex traffickers (and honestly is there anything more despicable on the planet? Kidnapping and selling human beings for other’s pleasure? I honestly don’t understand how these people can look at themselves in the mirror without wanting to shoot themselves in the head.) but Bryan promises her, before she loses her phone that he will find her, and warns the thug who picks up her phone, that he will find them and kill them.

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Thus starts the hunt as Mills tears the Parisian underworld apart looking for his daughter.

With a less talented actor, this would have been a run of the mill, action flick, by putting someone of Neeson’s caliber in the role, the film elevates itself and becomes so much more believable, because Neeson instills Mills with a dangerous edge and reality.

The fight sequences are fast and brutal, and for me, there isn’t one moment that I don’t believe that Mills could not only kick as much ass as he wants to reclaim his daughter, he’s completely justified in the body count of scumbags who pile up in his wake, 35 if you want an exact body count.

Using a martial arts style known as Nagasu Do, Mills doesn’t let anything stop him in his search for his daughter, calling in favors from his former co-workers, who are now all involved in private security, or checking in with former friends in the French police.

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Running at a taut 90 minutes, I personally could have happily sat through another half hour of Neeson kicking ass, the film races by, setting up Bryans skills in the first few minutes, and barely 25 minutes into the film, Kim is taken, and Mills is kicking it into high gear.

Of course, at this time Mills’ speech to the kidnapper on the phone, has become not only an internet meme, but a pop culture touchstone, to the point of parody and beyond… for all that, it’s still chilling to here Neeson deliver those lines, because you know he’s making a promise he’s going to keep, and you can’t wait to see him take those thugs on.

In lesser hands than Neeson’s I don’t think this film would have found the success and life that it has. It has already spawned a sequel and shown, once again, that not only can Neeson turn in a dramatic role, he can be an action hero as well.

He’s come a long way since Krull.

Can you believe there is only one title left to view in the 101 Action Movies list?

Wow.

What’s your all time fave action film?

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