Taken (2008)

Starring: Liam Neeson, Famke Janssen, Maggie Grace, Holly Valance

Directed by: Pierre Morel

Rating: 1 2 3 4

Liam Neeson as ex-CIA agent Bryan

When they're not patrolling luxury yachts, hanging around sun-drenched haçiendas or guarding subterranean nuclear weapons silos, d'you reckon evil bad guys' henchmen ever go to the pictures?

Because if I were a crime lord's bodyguard and I caught Taken on my afternoon off, I'd start thinking about a career change pronto.

For gun-toting goons are powerless in the face of our bullet-dodging, punch-packing, sharp-shooting, utterly ruthless ex-CIA anti-hero Bryan (Liam Neeson). Marvel as he despatches six machine-gun wielding assailants in one go, blows up buildings, tortures witnesses and pops a cap into innocent bystanders! Gasp as he blags his way into high-security areas using fake ID a sixteen-year-old would blush to produce in Thresher and escapes unscathed from the scene of battle whilst actually managing to drive a car with a manual gearbox!

Yet the mess, massacre and rocketing body count Bryan leaves in his wake as he blazes a one-man trail of vengeful destruction through the means streets of Paris are, it seems, completely justified (and without apparent legal consequence) because he's looking for his daughter, who's been kidnapped by an Albanian gang to be sold into the sex slave trade.

Liam Neeson dodges bullets in Taken

True, the film is lifting the lid on the horrific hidden world of extortion, degradation and vile misogyny that is sex trafficking, but I'm not sure that kicking down doors, all guns blazing, is really the solution. And yet somehow Liam Neeson's compelling, gritty, hardened performance almost convinces you that it is; that, if men are going to treat women with such disgusting, abusive disrespect, perhaps they deserve everything they get.

Okay, so this film is really pretty wrong. Dubious morality aside, the plot is riddled with more holes than a slice of Leerdammer, but a gripping storyline, rattling along at a cracking pace and spliced with short, sharp, shocking bouts of dirty violence, and a central protagonist who carries all the nonsense effortlessly on broad shoulders mean that Taken ticks all the right boxes for a corking Saturday night at the movies.

Go ahead – try and hate his film. Good luck.

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