Film Fans: 'Taken' offers plenty of nonstop action

EDITOR'S NOTE - Film Fans runs in the Friday Weekend section of the Gwinnett Daily Post. It features local residents reviewing the film of the week: "Taken." Want to be a Film Fan? E-mail features@gwinnettdailypost.com.

3 stars out of 4

If you like action movies, this one is definitely for you.

It's an over-the-top exercise in mayhem starring Liam Neeson as Bryan Mills, an ex-CIA agent who has left his considerable career to spend more time with his daughter that he has neglected for some time. Early on, she is abducted by human traffickers while vacationing in Paris, and Mills must use all of his "specific set of skills" to rescue her and bring her home.

We soon find out that he is an amazing hybrid of James Bond and Jason Bourne and John McClane who will shoot, karate chop, electrocute, bend in half and throw from a building anyone who refuses to cooperate with him or makes the mistake of getting in his way.

The plot has a familiar foundation seen many times before from writer/producer Luc Besson ("Transporter" 1, 2, and 3; "The Professional," "Kiss of the Dragon"), but Neeson does a masterful job of displaying the intensity and determination of his character, and succeeds in making an implausible story believable and very entertaining. It's hard to make sense out of how he gathers his "intel," but it's more fun to just follow the action and enjoy the ride.

This movie more than deserves the PG-13 rating, but is entertaining enough to earn a second viewing just to watch Neeson in action.

- Steve Kalberg, Lawrenceville

3 stars out of 4

This movie had some high points and equally low points which resulted in just an average flick.

On one hand, Liam Neeson performed to his usual high standards and carried the movie; on the other, virtually every other actor in the film failed to convince. In addition, there was a good deal of suspense early on, but midway through, the action became repetitive and the ending formulaic.

Finally, the premise, that Neeson's character was a retired military dad who redeems his lifelong absence from the family by pursuing his daughter's kidnappers, is a good one, but the way it was set up, and the way it ended, was a bit hokey (I find it hard to believe that anyone truly dotes on a 17-year-old daughter to the point of falling asleep with her photo on his chest each night - and this was before she was kidnapped).

On a good note, the movie dealt with some dark issues, but mostly by insinuation and innuendo, instead of graphic visual proofs, which would have pushed the film's rating to R without any real benefit to the storyline. Nevertheless, when it's all said and done, I would have preferred to rent the DVD on this one.

- Jenni McKinney, Buford

3 stars out of 4

Do not let the first 20 minutes fool you into thinking this is a slow-paced movie; it is just the setup for an action-packed thriller that does not stop.

For those of you who never thought of Liam Neeson as an action hero, get ready to change your view. He does a great job and his intense focus drives the movie. He leaves no room for doubt that the pursuit of his daughter will be relentless and that he will accomplish her rescue by doing whatever it takes to whoever is involved in any way in her abduction. He takes the law into his own hands and is merciless in his quest.

There are no high-tech gadgets, just a retired spy's vast experience and unstoppable determination. The action and drama are doled out just right. The PG-13 rating is too mild given the subject matter and amount of violence.

- Francine Benoit, Lawrenceville