Today’s Drive-By Movie Review is on the 2009 movie Taken, starring Liam Neeson and Maggie Grace…
Plot Summary: A former spy relies on his old skills to save his estranged daughter, who has been forced into the slave trade.
Me: I miss the days when you could regularly go to the theater and there would almost always be an action movie playing that starred tough guys like Charles Bronson, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sly Stallone or Steven Seagall – actors of dubious ability that made a living on the silver screen by kicking ass first and taking names later.
The Honeybee: Yeah, those guys weren’t real thespians, but how much acting ability does it really take to squeeze a machine gun trigger and turn a guy into Swiss cheese, or beat some thug to a bloody pulp?
Me: You’ve definitely got a point there, Honeybee. The action heroes of today are played by, shall we say, actors of a higher pedigree. For example, you’ve got Daniel Craig as the latest incarnation of James Bond….
The Honeybee: What about Matt Damon as Jason Bourne?
Me: Even better…
The Honeybee: … and Ben Affleck as Jack Ryan.
Me: You should have quit while you were ahead. But we do have another fine actor, Liam Neeson, trying his hand as an action hero. In Taken, Neeson plays Bryan Mills, a retired CIA operative who is forced to resurrect his old skills as a CIA operative in order to rescue his kidnapped daughter from a Parisian sex slave ring.
The Honeybee: Before I saw the movie I could never imagine Neeson pulling off a tough-guy role such as Bryan Mills, but let me tell you, he makes a great action hero! He was one heck of an ass-kicker!
Me: Mills goes on to unleash an industrial-strength can of whoop-ass on all of the people unfortunate enough to have had a hand in the abduction of his little girl, mercilessly dispatching one baddie after another with whatever lethal means is available to him.
The Honeybee: I think he used every trick in the CIA handbook.
Me: I wouldn’t go that far, but he was one resourceful cat, to be sure. Still, in spite of all the violence and mayhem he unleashes on his daughter’s hapless abductors, Neeson’s compelling performance is so beautifully understated that it is an absolute pleasure to behold.
The Honeybee: Oh, brother! I don’t think he’ll be taking home any Oscars. In the end this was still your typical action movie. All the bad guys were completely inept and, with one minor exception, Mills won every confrontation – no matter the odds.
Me: Like the scene where Mills, armed with only a handgun, wiped out a gang of six heavily-armed Albanian thugs in a room the size of a walk-in closet? Despite being attacked with enough bullets to kill a small army, Mills came out completely unscathed! Then again, who goes to an action thriller to see highbrow material?
The Honeybee: Not me. Twenty minutes into the movie, Taken grabs you and then never lets go.
Me: The pacing is incredibly swift and I was truly on the edge of my seat from the moment Mills’ daughter was kidnapped until the end of his relentless quest to rescue her – Taken was indisputably the fastest 93-minute movie I’ve ever experienced.
The Honeybee: You’ve got no arguments from me there.
Me: That’s a first.
The Honeybee: Watch it, tough guy – or I may go Bryan Mills on you.
Me: Wow, tough crowd. What’s your recommendation, Honeybee? Buy or sell?
The Honeybee: Taken is a definite “Buy!”
Me: Agreed. This was absolutely one of the best movies of the year.
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