Mister Cinecal

Mister Cinecal

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Talkin' Taken

If you're a big name actor over the age of 50 in Hollywood these days, chances are you're getting sent a lot of "like Taken but" scripts these days. Outside of anything involving superheroes, Taken might be the most influential action-movie of the last ten years, spawning plenty of imitators and essentially redefining the career of its star Liam Neeson. Its enduring popularity among the 'Lad Bible' set ensures that you will find plenty of people who find Taken to be one of the best action-movies of all time.

And I just do not get it. 
Sorry Liam


The thing is, I don't think Taken is a terrible film or anything. It's fine. It's a reasonable rampage. But honestly, what is your favourite action scene from Taken?  What's the most exciting, most badass thing you remember from that film, because other than a vague recollection that some people got kicked and some people got shot, I cannot remember any action scenes from Taken and I never hear anybody talk about any. What I do hear people talk about when they talk about Taken is the phone call. And a great phone call it is, containing highly quotable and memorable "action movie" dialogue, but is Taken just a one scene film? Is one good quote enough to make it a great action movie? I mean, it was cool when Arnie told Bennett to let off some steam, but he did it after he threw a pipe through his chest. If gravelly voices down the phone are your jam then that's great, but you could get even more of that by watching Phone Booth. What does every other scene in Taken have to offer besides divorced-dad-fantasy?

Now the other thing that keeps me from getting into Taken isn't necessarily its fault. I have this theory about the film that just bugs me, and I've never seen it hinted at anywhere else but it has burrowed its way too far into my brain and people can tell me I'm crazy but I've just decided that its true. Maggie Grace's character...um..."Kidnapped Daughter", the kidnapped daughter of Liam Neeson's character...er..."Mr. Taken?" was clearly about 10 years old in the original script, right?

Consider the evidence people! Kidnapped Daughter is incredibly naive, spoiled by her step-dad, dreams of being a pop star and is given a goddamn pony for her birthday. You might say that her mother and step-dad wouldn't agree to let her go to Paris unsupervised if she was so young, but that just puts them at the same level as the Olsen Twins parents in Passport to Paris and besides, the whole point of the movie is that Liam-Neeson-Is-Right-Everybody-Else-Is-Wrong-Maybe-You-Should-Just-Listen-To-Your-Goddamn-Father-Sometimes-Young-Lady-That-Dress-Is-WAY-Too-Short-Goddamit. And you might also say that its unlikely that a movie like this would threaten to sell a child into sexual slavery, to which I would counter that Taken was written by Luc Besson, the guy who wrote and directed Léon the Professional and also dated a 15 year old when he was 32. He's French.

Insufferable child "Kidnapped Daughter"
She would basically have to be about 12 or so if you take the plot of the film into account, which I accept is not really what you're supposed to do with Taken. [NOW ENTERING MAJOR CONJECTURE] Mr. Taken is still adjusting to life as a retired divorcé at the start of that movie. Famke Janssen left him because he was never around for her or Kidnapped Daughter because he was too busy being the baddest dude in the CIA, which is a job he had to have had for a while. Like, I doubt he was working in the mail room for the majority of their marriage, then got transferred to the killing division late in the game and then she left him. And "you prioritise your job murdering people ahead of your family" is not like never taking the bins out, it's not the kind of issue you let bubble up for years and years, you have to figure Famke Janssen is putting up with that for maybe five years tops before kicking Mr. Taken to the curb. In all likelihood, having a kid is what would have gotten Famke to the point where she'd be telling him to add 'spends more time at home' to his particular set of skills. So when you take into account the amount of time it would take for her to have a child, get fed up with Mr. Taken, totally finalise her divorce from him, meet somebody new and marry him leaving Neeson still kind of new to being alone and retired, realistically that would put his daughter at around 10-12, right? QED? 

So yeah, you've got a 25 year old playing a 17 year old whose clearly meant to actually be 12 years old, and I don't need it. I can tolerate it, but I'm not putting it up on any action movie pedestal. If you'd care to disagree or would like to tell me about a cool action scene in Taken that you can actually remember, feel free to let me know. What does everybody see that I don't? Did Liam Neeson stab a guy in the heart with a tank gun when I went to the bathroom?

*dashes to add 'stabs guy with tank gun' to screenplay*

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