Tuesday 23 February 2010


Even if its plot is straightforward, a thriller can thrill, as long as the story is told with drive and style, and the 2008 movie Taken is a good example of this. Taken stars Liam Neeson as retired CIA man Bryan Mills, whose wife has found a second husband who is richer and more suave, and with whom Mills’ adored 17 year old daughter Kim now lives. Mills reluctantly agrees to Kim going off on an extended holiday in Europe with a girlfriend, but when the pair are kidnapped hours after arriving in Paris, he springs into action, determined to rescue Kim.

I suppose everyone who watches this film will expect Mills to triumph in the end, and of course they are not disappointed. But the predictability doesn’t matter much, because Neeson plays the veteran hero with utter conviction, and after a careful opening, in which his motivation is established, the pace becomes relentless.

So we have vertiginous clambering around an apartment block, high-speed car chases, and shoot-outs aplenty, as well as the obligatory uncharacteristic lapse of concentration on the hero’s part which leaves him facing imminent execution. I thought it was very well done, and the film was short enough to allow me no time to ponder the improbability of it all.

If it’s an undemanding slice of entertainment that you’re after, I can recommend Taken, which I’d put alongside the Bourne films as an illustration of the way in which rather formulaic plot elements can be turned into a gripping and truly enjoyable action film. And Neeson, who made this movie not long before the utterly tragic death of his wife, Natasha Richardson, is absolutely excellent.


mybillcrider said...

I had quite good time with this one.

Anonymous said...

Martin - I'd been wondering whether or not I should see Taken. It does sound like an entertaining and engrossing thriller, though. And I happen to like Liam Neeson. He was astounding in Schindler's List, and I liked him in Rob Roy and Les Miserables, too.

Martin Edwards said...

Margot, if you like fast-moving thrillers, and Liam Neeson, I'm pretty confident you will enjoy this one!

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

I love the way you put that: short enough for you not to notice the improbability of the plot! Sounds like a fast-paced movie.

Mystery Writing is Murder

Ann Elle Altman said...

I remember watching the movie and thinking it was incredibly exciting. It's true that it resembles many action films but good to watch nonetheless.


Arlee Bird said...

I found it a bit farfetched but enormously entertaining. My wife absolutely loved it. Chick action flick?

Kit Courteney said...

I loved it too. It's what I'd call a 'proper' thriller.

It thrilled rather than dragged a bit all the way to a massively disappointing end.

Martin Edwards said...

Thanks for these comments - we have a clear consensus on an entertaining movie!