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February 1, 2009 - Ken Womack
Taken ***

Move over, Jason Bourne—and for that matter, Matt Damon. There’s a new tough guy on the block, and his name is Liam Neeson. And in Pierre Morel’s Taken, Neeson is deadlier than the rest of today’s action heroes combined.
In Taken, Neeson plays Bryan Mills, a lethal former CIA operative with the brains, brawn, and dexterity to outwit any bad guy unlucky enough to cross his path. As he remarks to one of his enemies, “What I do have are a very particular set of skills—skills I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you.”
The action is set into motion when Mills’s partially estranged seventeen-year-old daughter Kim (Maggie Grace) decides to spend the summer in Paris against her father’s wishes. Mills’s bitter ex-wife Lenore (Famke Janssen) doesn’t see anything wrong with her daughter traipsing across Europe unattended.
As events would prove, Lenore couldn’t be more wrong if she tried. Within scant moments after landing in France, Kim and her devil-may-care friend Amanda (Katie Cassidy) are abducted by a gang of bloodthirsty Albanians.
With nothing to lose and with his “very particular set of skills” in full force, Mills jets off to Paris, where the real fun begins as the former agent tracks his daughter through a seamy French underworld of crime and corruption.
While the film nearly loses its way during the extended exposition sequences in which we learn that Lenore has replaced Mills with her mega-wealthy new husband Stuart (Xander Berkeley), Taken finds its footing in France, where Mills rediscovers his CIA-agent mettle.
If nothing else, Taken reminds us just how captivating Neeson can be as a leading man. Other than voicing Aslan in the recent Narnia films, Neeson has been rather quiet of late. With Taken, Neeson demonstrates precisely how engaging he can be—a kind of Oskar Schindler with the lethal skills to match his selfless, heroic stature.


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