Taken (2009) Blu Ray Dec 6, 2009 3:40:50 GMT -5
Post by Erik Rupp on Dec 6, 2009 3:40:50 GMT -5
In a word - Wow!
Taken may be the best action movie of it's type since the first Die Hard back in 1988. Let that sink in for a minute. Die Hard is one of the all time great action movies, and this one is in that leauge.
We're not talking huge explosion, larger than life action movies here. We're talking about the smaller scale, more personal action movies - like Die Hard. One man (or two people) against many. One man (or, again, two people) fighting against the odds to achieve his goal.
In this case the goal for ex-C.I.A. operative Bryan Mills is to find and rescue his seventeen year old daughter, who has been kidnapped by a sex slave ring while she was vacationing in Europe. The other part of that goal is to kill everyone involved in the ring. There will be no repetition of this kidnapping with any further girls if Mills has his way. But that's just a side benefit of attempting to achieve his goal. His focus is like a laser - he's going to bring his daughter back home or die trying.
Playing the part of Mills is Liam Neeson, who does a magnificent job in the role. He plays both sides of Mills brilliantly. The loving father and the cold, efficient, ruthless (ex) C.I.A. operative. This character has some depth. More than most straightforward action movie protagonists do, anyway. Also in the cast are Maggie Grace (from Lost) as his daughter, Kim, Famke Janssen as his ex-wife Lenore, and Olivier Rabourdin as French intelligence officer Jean-Claude, a former colleague and friend of Mills.
The cast is quite good, and the direction is excellent. Director Pierre Morel doesn't reinvent the wheel with Taken, but what he does is direct the movie with both economy and style. There are no wasted shots, no attempts at being overly stylish, but there is some flair in the shots - enough that the movie just looks damned good and is exciting to watch.
The script, by Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen, is tight and wastes absolutely no time on unnecessary sub-plots or forced character development. It is like Mills himself - focused and to the point. The editing only adds to this streamlined, no-nonsense approach, as the movie clocks in at a lean 91 minutes - including the credits (93 minutes for the extended cut). But even though the movie is economical in the time sense, it never feels short changed from a story development standpoint. Morel, Besson, and Kamen manage to get everything they need into the story, and editor Frederic Thoraval makes it all come together in an excellent package.
This isn't the smartest action movie ever. It isn't the most exciting action movie ever. It isn't the best written, best directed, or best edited action movie ever. But it is rather high on the lists for all of those individual categories, which makes this movie work as a great film overall.
As for the Blu Ray edition of the film, it is much like the film itself - not the best ever, but darned good. The picture is crisp and clear, with some excellent detail. The colors are not oversaturated, but they do pop when they're supposed to. And there is just the right amount of grain visible so that it looks like a film (after all - it was shot on film), and that small amount of grain makes the movie a little more pleasing to the eye. The sound for the Blu Ray is also quite good.
Taken is the kind of movie that fans of both the more serious James Bond movies and the first Die Hard movie can enjoy. It came out as quite a surprise upon it's theatrical release, and after watching the movie for myself I can see why. It's a great action movie that exceeded expectations. Isn't that a nice surprise these days?