Liam Neeson stars in this shoot-em-up thriller, as an ex-spy, whose daughter has been, er... 'taken'. The Albanian trafficking gang who have abducted her to sell as a slave to an Arab Sheik, soon learn that they are messing with the wrong man, as he fills them, one-by-one with lead and liberates his daughter. The sub-plot is that Neeson's character was too busy spying to be a good Dad when his daughter was young, but believes he can redeem that time by using his gun-toting skills to be there for her at the decisive moment.
The plot-line is a reasonable premise for a thriller, and the cast isn't bad either. Somehow though, this film fails to build any emotional intensity, despite the danger, the heroics and the wanton blood-letting. Having recently watched Changeling, a film that grabs the viewer by the throat and refuses to let go, 'Taken' seemed lightweight, trivial, and even un-engaging. Obviously they are totally different types of film, but they do illustrate the rather arbitrary nature of the certification process. The excessive shooting of criminals earns Taken an "18" certificate, even though it's violence is sterile, unaffecting and tedious - certainly not disturbing; whereas the violence seen and implied on Changeling (cert 15) is the stuff of nightmares. Changeling is a true story, with a dark ending, Taken has the standard feel-good ending in which the main characters are OK, and the others discreetly forgotten.
I can't help feeling that doing a movie like this was an odd choice for Liam Neeson - he surely can't be that short of good scripts on offer? Perhaps he harbours a secret unfulfilled ambition to play James Bond, and a lone spy systematically executing criminal masterminds in their secret bases in Taken was as close as he's got! Certainly this effort was below him, with a track recors of having voiced mighty Aslan in Narnia, and played Michael Collins in the excellent Irish historical film of that name.
Taken.. gains only two out of five stars - no more than standard Hollywood fare.