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Directed by Pierre Morel.
Written by Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen.
Starring Liam Neeson, Maggie Grace, and Famke Janssen.
Release Year:  2008

Review Date:  2/3/09


It's a slow starter, but once the vengeful thriller "Taken" gets rolling, the last hour of this movie will make you howl thanks to Complete Ridiculosity, a new term I'm going to try and brand if the Webster's people will let me.

Liam Neeson, an actor that nearly everyone loves, plays Bryan Mills, a former CIA guy who has moved to LA to be closer to his daughter (Maggie Grace, terrible but appropriate) as his x-number-of-years-on-the-job stint crashed his marriage to a woman named Lenore (Famke Janssen).  Naturally, Mills has just retired from The Life, but when the daughter goes to Paris on a trip with a friend, the twosome are kidnapped and it's up to Secret Agent Man to get his daughter back.

This is what is set up in the movie's trailer, and then the trailer tells you nothing else.  (The trailer really was cool, wasn't it?)  The movie uses the phone call where Mills learns that his daughter is taken and then leaps into action, and I'm telling you, Meg, Gordon and I spent the rest of the movie rooting for Mills to whoop EVERYONE'S ass, and he goes out to do just that.  Shootouts, car chases, fight scenes, and a scene that will immediately remind you of Jabba the Hutt make this movie such a ride that I'm tempted to watch it again, as long as I can show up late and not pay.  Complete Ridiculosity kicks in when you realize later, maybe after you leave the theater, that it is impossible to believe a guy rolls into France, speaks no French--not a single full sentence the whole time he's in Paris!--leaves bodies all over the region, twice takes down double-digit baddies in tight quarters, and rescues his just-about-to-be-whored-out daughter...with no backup.  Did we mention that Neeson is about to turn 57 in real life?

But, that's why they get paid the big bucks, and I don't.  The film's first 20 minutes are often atrocious and they skip a lot of steps to give us what we want; additionally, the acting in this film is so purposely awful that no one even appears to be working save for Neeson.  If you can get by this, "Taken" is a fun time at the movies, one that takes you back to the beautiful action films of the 1980s that appear to have literally no conscious.

Rating:  $9.50 Show


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 02/03/09