In 2008’s Taken, Liam Neeson stars as Bryan Mills, a former CIA operative who uses his particular set of skills to rescue his daughter while on a trip to Europe with a friend. Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen penned the script that gave director Pierre Morel a framework of action and a world in which these characters could play.
I don’t think the film is an accurate depiction of what the CIA is or does, but it does show what a father of Mills’ background might do in a situation such as the one depicted in the film. From the start, Mills is not particularly happy about his daughter Kim (Maggie Grace) going off to Europe to “study” with a friend. Come to find out they are there to party and have fun. He already has a somewhat strained relationship with his ex-wife Lenore (Famke Janssen) and when Kim tells him she wants to go to Europe he immediately is apprehensive because he knows how cruel the world can be for people, especially two teenage girls. But through some assurances, he allows his daughter to go and thus sets the action of the film in motion.
The plot was simple enough I suppose. Was it accurate? Probably not entirely. Was it believable? Not necessarily. But it had a decent set up and plenty of action to keep me in the film. The characters seemed to be drawn efficiently with enough characteristics to make the bad guys bad and the good guys good. Neeson portrays Mills with precision while seemingly being a master of every skill imaginable that aids him in finding his daughter. It almost seems, though, that if all CIA agents were as skilled as Bryan Mills, the world’s terrorists should be afraid, very afraid. I would say it is probably one of Neeson’s better performances. Kim is not seen through most of the film after she is abducted, but Grace still brings a frightened reality to the character. Janssen is not seen much through the second act either, but delivers a believable and honest performance.
It seems the film was set up around the phone call that Mills makes to his daughter to check up on her after she failed to call when she arrived at her destination. About this time, men who the girls just meet enter and abduct the unsuspecting visitors. He tells his daughter that she will be taken and he tells the kidnapper on the phone that he will find him and he will kill him. With that, the kidnapper says “Good luck.” So, with the help from his CIA pals, he manages to get the name of the kidnapper and Mills begins his cross-country trek to get his daughter back.
Mills becomes a one man army and stops at nothing in his pursuit. It does make for an entertaining film even with some of the sequences seemingly implausible. But supposedly with the skills and expertise that Bryan Mills has, nothing is impossible (or improbable) in the course of the film.
There were moments in Taken that seemed a little outlandish, almost preposterous. But the film had enough action to keep me in the film and entertained. It’s one of those films that could make you go “hmmm,” but still has the action, story, and characters to be a watchable film.