12 of 40 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars
seriously flawed, 7 Nov 2009
I bought this film on the strength of some reviews and because I usually like films with the tag 'Luc Besson' attached. I watched it with a growing sense of disbelief: at the risk of coming across like Stratler and Waldorf, I can only urge folks to avoid this one like the plague. Allow to list three main reasons for this recommendation:
(1) Violence. Good films motivate the use of violence throughout the time they take to unfold a story. This one doesn't: the motivation comes pre-packaged and is given free reign in virtually every frame that follows the abduction scene. From then on, not only is it a case of one 'good guy' being given the liberty to torture, maim, slice up or beat into a pulp all 'bad' guys, this is repeated relentlessly, without remorse, which makes the whole thing... boring, if nothing else.
(2) Sex. The film is ostensibly about human trafficking for sexual exploitation. Normally I would welcome the fact that a mainstream film like this one picks up a real-life issue - but here a crucial theme is couched in such a moralistically one-sided context, it nullifies whatever progressive message it may otherwise have carried across. Without giving away the plot line, I urge everyone watching this to closely observe the fate of the two female victims in the latter part of the film and draw their own conclusions. Innocence redeemed - my goodness, what a shallow form of morality.
(3) Ethnicity. I know, films of this genre require 'baddies', a process which cannot but create 'goodies'. In 'Taken,' however, this designation is taken to extremes: all bad guys stem from Eastern Europe (Albania, more precisely; ah yes, and some Arabs too) and all good guys are from North America, where even pop stars have a heart, step fathers are nice, ex-Intelligence guys are nice buddies and Liam Neeson's character is merely someone whose skills allow him to seek revenge (see (1) above). Never mind where he developed those skills. Belonging to an ethnic group in and of itself justifies the use of violence - you're Albanian? Too bad. Slash, pop, torture, cut your throat, bang your head, etc. I don't think I've ever watched a film that used ethnic stereotypes in such a blatant and self-justifying manner.
Yes, the film is well paced, proceeds reasonably logically and 'entertains' in a way that we've all become accustomed to. Perhaps we shouldn't. If you like suspense, watch "Tell No One" instead. This one becomes predictable after about 15 minutes. Avoid.