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Taken (Two-Disc Extended Cut) - action adventure DVD review
Rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association of America rating: 4 stars
Actors: Liam Neeson, Famke Janssen, Maggie Grace, Leland Orser, Radivoje Bukvic
Director: Pierre Morel Studio: 20th Century Fox
DVD release: 12 May 2009   Runtime: 91 minutes (2 discs)
Format: AC-3, Color, Dolby, Dubbed, DVD-Video, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
DVD Features: Aspect ratio 2.40:1, Audio tracks (Dolby Digital Surround 5.1 - English; Dolby Surround Spanish, French), Subtitles (English SDH, Spanish, French), Audio commentary (dir. Pierre Morel, writer Mark Kamen, cinematographers Michael Abramowicz and Michael Julienne), Exclusive Le "Making Of" featurette, Inside Action - Side by Side Comparisons, Avant Premiere, Digital copy

If you saw the trailer for Taken, you can make some assumptions about the rest of the film. In the trailer, you see Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) on the phone with his daughter, Kim (Maggie Grace). Some thugs break into the palatial Parisian apartment she's staying in with her friend, and they take her friend. Bryan Tells Kim to hide under the bed and that soon they will take her. They do. Bryan must do his best to get to Paris, find out, with precious little information, who took his daughter and her friend, and get them back.

The rest of the movie almost writes itself but doesn't give it enough credit. We can imagine a million permutations of ass-kicking and name-taking, and it could be anyone in the lead role, but those possibilities pale in comparison to what we do get: a kick-ass, edge-of-your-seat thriller that is well thought-out and emotionally well-grounded.

Bryan Mills is ex-CIA. He left the company to be a better dad to his 17-year-old, staying in California to be nearer to her and slowly building a more solid relationship. Bryan's ex-wife, Lenore (Famke Janssen), is re-married to a rich guy named Stuart (Xander Berkeley). He's a good guy who buys Kim a horse for her birthday, but he and Kim's mother are pretty lenient in what they allow Kim to do - i.e. the un-chaperoned trip to Paris. Bryan is torn between allowing the trip and disappointing his daughter. He puts some rules in place that she is to follow, but he can't account for Kim's freewheeling friend or the baddies who take them.

This could have been a real clunker had it been directed by Jerry Bruckheimer and starred someone more action-oriented than Neeson. As it is, Neeson infuses his part with such character that we instantly know with a look what he is feeling through every step of the action. This man is tortured by what he learns and what he must do. We can tell in broad strokes how the film will flow to its conclusion, but what we can't tell is how we'll feel about it.

Taken had me gripped from the trailer to the finish and though Mills did some things that shocked me and I disagree with on principle, as a father I can see where he's coming from - and as a film lover, I enjoyed the ride.
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reviewed by Eric Renshaw
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