Taken - 20th February 2011

From the team behind the Transporter series and some of the best and most interesting action movies being made today comes Taken, which along with The Expendables is one of my favourite action film of the last 5 years.
Headed up by producer Luc Besson, the writer of everything from The Karate Kid, Leathal Weapon 3 and Kiss of the Dragon, Robert Mark Kamen and the Cinematographer of Jason Statham classics, The Transporter and War now graduated to Director, Pierre Morel, the three of them have created a simple, perfect, taut action Eurothriller and some how turned lanky Irishman, Liam Neeson into a bona fide action star at the age of 57.

The story is a perfectly simple set up for an action film, Liam Neeson is an ex-whatever for the government and/or military and him and his ex-whatever friends occasionally do security work for famous peeps to pay the bills when they are not sitting around barbecuing and nattering about the old days. Neeson has an ex-wife who is married to a self-important rich fella and the most childish, spoilt and whiny 18 year old daughter ever committed to screen. The daughter whinges, cries, storms off and strops about until Neeson gives his fatherly consent for her to go to Paris with a tearaway friend. They get to Paris and barely an hour has gone passed and the daughter and her friend are abducted by big tattooed Albanians which, you know, happens a lot in Paris.
Now, of course, before she gets grabbed she has had time to call her ex-whatever Dad and explain to him enough of what was going on, giving him the chance to record the call, send it to his friend who has lots of technical gubbins, allowing him to work out which Albanian group has her and so on and so on and so on until Neeson turns up in Paris and kills absolutely everyone. It's just sheer brilliance.

It is brilliant because it is exactly what I want from an action movie, a film where the main character has an objective, is wound up and off he goes. This film is not hampered by the abundance of moral debate, logic or villains that constantly out fox the hero until the end. In this film the hero doesn't flinch, doesn't waste time, doesn't debate and doesn't exactly think, he just is good enough to always get out of every situation and does what needs to be done to get his daughter back.
It is directed well, acted as well as it needs to be, with Neeson particularly good and surprisingly adept at the action scenes where he makes you believe, without a doubt, that he is the pro he claims to be, is written well enough, despite the leaps of logic and doesn't focus particularly on touristy Paris but rather the seedier but still beautiful and artistic, crumbling side of the old city.

I just love the film, everything is such a heightened reality that I have no problem going with the flow while watching it. I can understand if people find it a bit grimy and gruesome in parts, the subject matter of trafficking girls by pumping them full of drugs and selling them off as sex slaves is grimy and sickening enough, but I actually find it refreshing because it's an adult action movie with proper violence, unlike the family friendly crap we are so often subjected to.

You see I like 24, the TV series. Well, I say 'like' I know it's completely ridiculous, a Republican's wet dream, repetitive, borderline racist, totally unbelievable and has way too many filler episodes, however when the character of Jack Bauer is allowed to be Jack Bauer then it is fantastically watchable TV, especially in a group. Sort of like 'Die Hard' the TV show.
The trouble with it is that everything has to have semi-realistic consequences and Jack is, despite having saved everyone at great personal expense a hundred times, constantly questioned, mistrusted, hampered by the powers that be and stopped in his missions by a bunch of silly bureaucrats, moralists or needless debate about the real effect of torturing someone when it is just a silly action TV show. Taken avoids all that and just lets Neeson do what we all wish jack Bauer would do and run amok with all manner of weapons and cool martial arts moves at his disposal.

It is written in such a way that the bad guys are so disgusting and a father's search for his daughter is so pure that you completely excuse Neeson punching, kicking, shooting, torturing, strangling and setting fire too anyone with so much as an Albanian sounding name, or at least I do. At one point at the beginning of the film Neeson says to his french contact, now a Police officer with a desk job, that he would tear down the Eiffel Tower if he had to, well by the end you certainly believe he would be capable of doing it.

It's exciting, silly, fast, endlessly watchable, packed with great action and looks fantastic. It has so much potential for sequels galore that I hope Neeson just spends the rest of his life making one a year, sadly though the only sequel news we have is that they are still trying to come up with a script! What?! it's simple, Famke Janssen gets kidnapped or the pop singer does or something and Neeson is off again... there are talks about it being shot this Spring and I, for one, can't wait! Just, please, no morals... just action!

10 out of 10 baguettes in a bag... this is Paris after all, we ALL walk round with baguettes
Points from The Wife 10 out of 10

The Oscars - 27th February

Jurassic Park - 18th February 2011