Sure, it delights in violence, but its violence is delightful.
Now, Taken is a very simple film with a very simple premise, and it's a little tricky to explain why it's so effective. Setup runs thus, ex CIA fixer Bryan (Liam Neeson)'s daughter is kidnapped on arriving in Cheese Eating Surrender Monkey Land. He goes and gets her back by means of staving faces in.
There's a little more in the way of detective work than that, it must be said, but the bulk of the film is Liam Neeson staving people's faces in and politely asking questions, Jack Bauer style. It's as shallow as your average puddle, but for anyone who thinks that there's no place for that in the modern cinema landscape then y'all be wrongz, dawg. Ahem.
This is as well paced an action film as I can think of, channelling the Bourne films' style to a large degree, and bombing along at a truly remarkable pace. Neeson himself is never less than entirely convincing as an agent of vengeance as he scythes through the seedy underworld of Paris, with some remarkable set piece chases and effective, painful looking hand to hand combat.
While it's seemingly taken some flack as being rather exploitative in terms of its level of violence, this seems to be rather missing the point. I don't recall this as ever being advertised as a sensitive exploration of mankind's psyche. This is a remake of Commando with more emphasis on punching people in the face than waving machine guns about, but choice of pain delivery vectors aside, this is cut from exactly the same cloth.
Some might say that the 80's action bandwagon has rolled away and shouldn't be welcomed back, but them all be wrongz, dawg. While there's nothing here that will help anyone understand human nature any better, surely not all films have to. As a spectacle, this is perhaps unmatched so far this year. It's amongst the most unadulterated fun I've had in a cinema this year, and as such comes as highly recommended as anything else I've seen this year.
Were I in the business of passing quantifiable judgements, I'd award this 4/5 TippyMarks.
Maggie Grace (Kim)
Famke Janssen (Lenore)
Xander Berkeley (Stuart)