Not to be confused with the Spielberg mini-series of the same name, Taken sees ex-CIA black-ops agent Bryan (Neeson) calling on all his special forces training to recover his teenage daughter after she’s kidnapped in Paris by an Albanian prostitution racket.
Rewind and we discover that Bryan has taken early retirement from his job clearing up the world’s bad guys to move closer to his daughter Kim (Grace – proving there is life after Lost) and ex wife (Janssen). But after being conned by the sickly sweet Kim into letting her go to Paris "for the museums", Bryan's fight against crime soon becomes personal as Kim witnesses her friend being dragged screaming from their apartment.
Luckily, Bryan's CIA nose is already sniffing, and he manages to phone Kim just as the kidnap is taking place. Transformed instantly from over-protective father into cool-headed special agent, he calmly talks Kim through her own inevitable abduction before setting off on the obligatory race against the clock to find her.
At just 93 minutes, Taken is a refreshingly short movie that doesn’t fall into the trap of spinning things out unnecessarily. Writer Luc Besson once again teams up with Pierre Morel, and anyone who’s seen their 2004 film District B13 will know to expect an adrenaline-fuelled adventure with plenty of fist-flinging and chase scenes.
Liam Neeson proves he’s still got it, even at 56, smashing countless heads between car doors in his mission to find his daughter; in fact, Taken could do with lessening the body count, as towards the end of the movie the ease with which Neeson is bumping off villains is getting ridiculous. And while the film has the feel of Eastern Promises, the undeniably Hollywood dialogue takes away from its gritty drug scenes and gratuitous violence to puncture the bubble of suspended reality. It's a shame, as Neeson's adept performance deserves better than to be sullied with such lapses into cliché.
You get the feeling that had Taken been a British film it would have conveyed the darkness of the theme a bit better. The fact the movie succeeds in gripping your attention despite its obvious Hollywood trappings only goes to make its minor flaws more frustrating. That said, it’s still worth ignoring the credit crunch and taking a trip to the cinema for – especially if you’re after a bit of action to fill the void before Bond.