Monday, April 06, 2009


Cast: Liam Neeson, Famke Janssen, Maggie Grace
Director: Pierre Morel
Runtime: 94 min.
Rating: *
Genre: Action

        If you have been following me dear reader, for an appreciable amount of time you would know that rating a movie is something I’m not especially good at. And neither do I strive to that end, though I am beginning to believe I should. At least for a product as Taken, which I give a single star only because I’m not sure how to represent half a star on a MS-Word document, or for that matter a blog. I did try prefixing “1/2” to a single star but it felt it might cause some needless confusion. I don’t seem to hate the film enough to attribute it a rating of Zero Stars, and I realize here I need to entertain thoughts of include some kind of graphic to highlight the rating as a good friend of mine suggested in the past.
        Never mind.
Fact 1: Taken has raked in close to $150 million at the box office, and is the year’s big box office champ along with one Paul Bart: Mall Cop, which is the leader.
Fact 2: Watchmen opens to a paltry $55 million at the box office, and is now officially a disaster. Fact 3: The latest installment of the Fast and Furious films opens to a resounding $72 million, and is well on its way to merit another entry to the series.
        If one needed anymore evidence that your average movie-goer is dumb, with little or no understanding of the medium, with little or no love apart from a passing interest in gaining some shallow pleasures in the name of entertainment, then all I would ask is to read the above facts a second time. Again, never mind.
        What sinks me into despair though is that for a Luc Besson film the pleasures have been packaged quite shoddily, and quite ineffectively. There used to be a time when one could at least depend on the fact that pure action was at least comprehensible, and there could at least be some measure of excitement in the manner in which violence was invoked. Not any longer. What audiences have found in Taken eludes me for the action is not just incomprehensible with respect to overall geography as well the details, it is just plain derivative. Car chases are anti-climactic and fist fights plain sloppy. The aim is to be economic and brutal, to evoke a sense of professionalism and bluntness in the ways of Bryan Mills (Mr. Neeson), who is now a retired and divorced CIA operative trying to makeup for the time he lost for his 17-year old daughter Kim (Ms. Grace), but all it ends up being is plain choppy. The same old impotency of machine gun fire is to be found here. There’s no sense of camera placement, no sense of editing, and more often than not one feels the camera has been placed in exactly the wrong place. One ought to remember Michael Mann’s Collateral, one of the most technically accomplished films of the decade, and how the acting was staged and filmed. There was an economy to it that remains unmatched in the present times.
        What’s the difference here? Simple. A shaky camera and over-editing never ever convey economy. They convey chaos, and that is the primary flaw to be found in some of the action sequences in the Bourne movies too. A still camera with the minimum possible edits actually goes a long way in displaying the sense of control that the protagonist holds over the said action sequence and all the bad guys within it. And considerably more impact too, for we know every little move made rather than not being aware of the geography at all.
        The plot is preposterous. The treatment more so. Mills only needs to listen to some needless lines to pinpoint the exact town these guys originally hail from, and the kind of Albanians they are. Applying logic here is another dumb exercise. The dialogs are utterly laughable. Everything is predictable. The movie is ridden with stereotypes. You might feel the 94 min. are passing too slowly. Mr. Neeson is supposed to lend some kind of credibility, but I believe nobody can be respectable in a role written for Steven Segal other than Mr. Segal himself. Mr. Neeson attempts to bring character when there’s no need, and it is not that he alone is at fault. The film does too, be some kind of plot driven actioner, but those kind of ambitions demand a kind of investment into the script the film isn’t ready for. Neither are the performances which border on the bad to plain annoying. All of them. Taken is just plain bad. Calling it a guilty pleasure is to cause disrespect to two of our most useful emotions.
        Whatever happened to good old fashioned action movies. And whatever you say, this isn’t fun. No, not even the mindless fun you’re referring to dear reader. Seek for that elsewhere. A Jason Statham flick is always around the corner.


Atrisa said...

So many banner advertisements they had, jeez that bad? He he.

I happened to catch this movie a few days back Swimming Pool thought it was awesome. Do catch it if you can. I actually wonder if I got the climax right!

Shubhajit said...

I don't agree with your review. The movie is "mindless fun" and "overedited", but it WAS fun to watch. This isn't a movie for the critics - this is one for the kind of audience looking for a stylish movie and entertainment. And thanks to Liam Neeson's presence, it managed to rise above quite a few fellow movies in the genre of no-nonsense kick-ass action thrillers, including the likes of Bourne Identity.

Amar said...

Are you out of town or what? It has been a long time since you have posted your review... :(

george said...

The taken movie is a full of entertaining movie. I like the movie very much.I download Taken movie from this website.