As I sat down to watch “Taken”, the story of a man who loses his daughter to kidnappers, I (like everyone else) was reminded that actor Liam Neeson recently lost his wife. “Taken” was actually released last year in Europe and then here this Spring where it became one of the top-grossing movies of the year – so far. Naturally it’s hard to distance yourself from what you see on screen with what you read in the tabloids but with “Taken” it’s so relevant that it”s hard not to draw comparisons between what you see on screen and what you read. Furthermore, like the movie “Hostel”, I’m sure there”s a basis of fact to this story and that’s the most frightening thing of all. Young American girls traveling in Europe are abducted, forcibly given drugs which in turn leads them to a life of prostitution. It”s the kind of thing we hope never happens, but I”m quite sure it”s much more common place than we’re led to believe. “Taken”, like other films of the genre is a movie all about revenge and the search which is what makes it so enthralling.
Neeson plays Bryan Mills, a retired spy whose ex-wife (Famke Janssen) and her new husband has custody of their daughter (Maggie Grace from TV’s “Lost”). On her birthday, it’s revealed that she and her friend will be going to Europe for some “sightseeing” though it’s later revealed that they’re following the band U2 across the continent for their summer tour. Kim (Grace) has aspirations of being a singer. Bryan unwillingly signs the necessary forms so that Kim can leave the country and have her fun holiday and no sooner do they land when they meet a stranger who charms them. Later that evening, Kim witnesses a break in, her friend is attacked and as she’s talking with her father he comforts her as best he can. The worst happens. Kim is kidnapped and Bryan is off to Europe to, as the cover art suggests, “find them and kill them.” Being a former spy Bryan tells the kidnappers that he brings a certain set of skills to the table and he’ll use any means necessary to get his daughter back alive and unharmed. Will he?
“Taken” is a taut, well-made thriller that probably shows us some things that go on that we don’t want to imagine really do. Neeson is at the top of his game as the father who relentlessly goes after his daughters kidnappers and thwarts convention at every turn. We can see the pain on his face, the agony he must be going through and the sheer love a father has for his daughter and it’s what makes the movie work. Maggie Grace was best-known as “Shannon” on TV’s “Lost” though her character met an untimely demise (then again, with that show pretty much anything’s possible). While it may be more of a popcorn flick, “Taken” doesn’t really ever let up when it comes to the action and unless you’re the devil himself, you’re rooting for Bryan to find his daughter. A great movie and certainly worthy of a rental.
Video: How does it look?
“Taken” is shown in a very attractive 2.40:1 AVC HD transfer that really puts the “grit” in “gritty.” The transfer, for the most part, is everything we’d expect a new to Blu-ray movie to look like with fine detail, vibrant colors and wonderful contrast. There are some scenes, however, that really show some grain and I think given the tone of the film it’s intentional. I saw a little more noise in some scenes than I’d like but I feel most folks won’t really notice and/or care that much. “Taken” looks on par with most major studio releases and there’s no finer way to enjoy this film than on Blu-ray.
Audio: How does it sound?
For what it lacks in picture quality, the DTS Master Audio track is one of the most impressive I’ve heard in quite some time. Gun shots ring out and sound amazing, the sheer “thud” of the sound of a bullet really immerses you into the film. Dialogue, as we might expect, is warm and natural. The LFE are really active as well, so much that I had to turn the volume knob down on my receiver so that I didn’t disturb the neighbors below me. This uncompressed track is what HD audio is all about and this movie is the perfect showcase for it.
Supplements: What are the extras?
“Taken” comes to Blu-ray in a two disc set with the second disc being a digital copy. There are a pair of commentary tracks, with the first being with director Pierre Morel and some crew. The track is in French with subtitles and admittedly it was a bit confusing. Onto the next track. The second track is with screenwriter Robert Kamen who gives us a bit more than we need, writers are like that I suppose. It?s a very informative, yet somewhat boring, track. A “Making of…” featurette is included as is some footage from the premiere and some storyboards to boot.