2008-12-12 10:51
What it's about:

A former spy (Neeson) relies on his old skills to save his estranged daughter (Grace), who has been forced into the slave trade.

What we thought of it:

It’s nice when the title of a movie sets you up for exactly what to expect: something is, indeed, taken. It’s Liam Neeson’s daughter. From this point of view, the film delivers exactly what it promises. Unfortunately, it doesn’t offer all that much more.

Neeson plays a CIA spook who’s thrown it in to patch up his relationship with his teenage daughter. Theirs is a touching relationship, and one of the elements of the film that shows some real depth. When she heads off to Paris on holiday with a friend, Neeson’s experience of the big bad world makes him fret for his little girl’s safety. And sure enough, his worst fears are realised. She’s kidnapped by a bunch of heavies and the ex-spy launches into action.

The best moments of the film are when Neeson’s dormant spy skills predictably kick into overdrive and he makes the shift from doting daddy to dyed-in-the-wool badass. As he says, “I’m retired – not dead.” And he certainly elicits some gasps at how quickly he descends into casual brutality. Unfortunately, this also marks the last time that the film shifts gears, and it steamrolls through to its finish with little deviation. Which is surprising, really. For a movie that owes a fairly hefty debt of gratitude to the Bourne trilogy for its visceral, relentless style of violence, there are virtually no twists to the plot. Neeson tells a kidnapper over the phone exactly what he intends to do. He then does it. And that’s pretty much the sum total of the film.

It’s to Neeson’s absolute credit that he’s able to support the entire weight of the movie on his shoulders, and he elevates it to the level of a decent action flick with deftly directed action set pieces and flinchworthy violence. Even so, he’s wasted on such a paper-thin script. Had this been the screenplay of a Jean-Claude Van Damme vehicle, it wouldn’t have seemed out of place. It appears that co-writer Luc Besson needed to fill a few idle hours, because he’s certainly capable of meatier stuff. The writers have forced words into their actors’ mouths that make them little more than cardboard cutouts on the periphery of Neeson’s wake of destruction. It’s no mistake that he’s the only cast member on the movie's promotional poster.

The producers have attempted to turn a liability into an asset, however, as evidenced by the tagline: “They took his daughter. He'll take their lives.” Go into it expecting simplicity, and you won’t be disappointed.

-Finn Gregory

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A former spy (Neeson) relies on his old skills to save his estranged daughter (Grace), who has been forced into the slave trade.

Anon 2008/09/19 5:14 PM
wow This was a real good movie...action from the start right through to the end!! excellent!
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