TAKEN is quite possibly the greatest season of 24 ever, if 24 was condensed to a more manageable 1.5 hour running time, Kiefer Sutherland was replaced by Liam Neeson, and the daughter was still annoying. Unlike TRANSFORMERS: RISE OF THE FALLEN, I feel completely as ease with the ridiculousness of the plot, the shallow characterizations, and the cringe-worthy coincidences. TAKEN is a film that knows exactly where it sits in the pantheon of modern film, and is content to be as fast and furious an example of that place as possible.
That it succeeds is due to two things: the direction by Luc Besson disciple Pierre Morel, who proved he can do this type of film admirably with the first TRANSPORTER film and the under-appreciated UNLEASHED, and the gravitas brought to the main role by Liam Neeson, who with this one film has become in my mind the most badass Dad in modern film history. Your typical action hero doesn't get to display too wide a range of emotion, but Neeson's got the chops, and one of the best things Morel does is let his star's face take over the frame long enough to convey the horror and pain he's going through with the abduction of his daughter. The trailer for TAKEN is one of the most thrilling advertisements I've seen in some time, and does a far better job of precisely explaining what you're going to get out of this movie than I ever could, so check it out below:
Refrains of "I will shoot you in the LEG!" echo through our house at regular intervals, coming from a previous season of 24, where CTU agent Jack Bauer threatens to shoot a suspect's wife in the if he doesn't give Jack the information he wants. There's a scene in TAKEN that takes this jokey moment and amps it to 11. Just for that I love this movie.