I love a great movie, a fantastic book, a riveting play, a fabulous TV show, a stunning piece of artwork. Many people will agree on what is a great creative work, and many will express their opinions over what constitutes a disastrous creation.
The real truth -- Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder.
Recently I watched a movie that came highly recommended by several people. Four different friends told me (more than once) to rent and watch the movie Taken.
So I watched it.
Starring Liam Neeson
Taken is about a man, Bryan Mills, played by Neeson, who after years as some sort of CIA/spy operative is retired and living a quiet life in California near his ex-wife and daughter. Hoping to rebuild a relationship with the daughter, Bryan spends his time hanging with old spy buddies and thinking about his daughter.
Bryan's seventeen year old daughter, Kim, is allowed to accompany her eighteen year old friend, Amanda, to France. (Really??) Within hours of landing in Paris, both girls are kidnapped by foreign-speaking men planning to sell them to the highest bidder. (Wow!?)
Perhaps the best scene in the film is when Kim is actually being kidnapped and talking to her father on her cell phone. Bryan Mills snaps into spy mode and instructs Kim on what to do to make his job of finding her more efficient. So as the girl is dragged out from under a bed, screaming, we get to feel the horrific emotions of Bryan the father.
Bryan the ex-spy takes over and the film moves on.
That was the last really interesting scene in the movie.
One of the problems I had with this film was the casting. The daughter, Kim, is played by Maggie Grace, who looks like she's thirty-five instead of seventeen. A younger, more innocent looking actress might have helped audience sympathy.
The best element of this film is by far Liam Neeson -- one the finest actors working today. He brings riveting life to a character and film that otherwise would have really fallen flat.
As the character of Bryan Mills roars through Europe beating and killing everyone in sight, often five and six men at a time (Wow!? He's 57 years old!) my interest in the story wanes.
Erratic camera movement, sporadic sub-titles, way too many bad guys, car chase scenes, violent fight scenes, and finally a rescue scene that seems far too easy..... and Kim and Dad are back home in sunny California.
Hmm... okay. So, what of her friend, Amanda, you ask? Well, I'm not certain. At one point in the film Bryan discovers several girls lying around in drugged stupors -- and kind of rescues one because she is wearing Kim's jacket. He does hover over another one that looks like Amanda, checking her pulse. She has apparently died of a drug overdose.
Compared to so many crappy films being made today, this one really isn't too bad. What makes it frustrating is it could have been excellent. A more realistic screenplay, better direction, and a stronger supporting cast would have made Taken a first-rate film instead of a step above mediocre.