Taken (Review)

Liam Neeson emotes admirably in middling thriller

The ever-capable Liam Neeson takes a well-earned payday as retired CIA agent Bryan Mills, whose 17-year-old daughter (Maggie Grace) is kidnapped by Albanian sex traffickers when she runs off to Paris with her best friend to follow a U2 tour around Europe. Ham-fisted screenwriting over-establishes Mills’ desperation at winning his daughter’s affection before he gets to use his specialized set of spy skills that will impose a hearty body count on his rescue and revenge quest around Paris.

French cottage film industry maverick Luc Besson co-produced and co-wrote the project, which takes special pleasure in spicing up violent surprises for a revenge fantasy that’s spelled out in capital letters. Perhaps the biggest revelation is Neeson’s impact as a 55-year-old super spy whose physicality is undiminished in spite of his age.

Mills has no ethics about torturing bad guys before leaving them to die an agonizing death or about hurting innocent bystanders in the interest of getting his way. Leave your brain at the door to enjoy this smash-and-grab spree of fast-twitch carnage. Grade: C

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