When 17-year-old Kim Mills asks her father for permission to spend three weeks in Paris with a girlfriend to visit museums, he's reluctant to consent. A retired CIA covert paramilitary operative, Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) sees the world as a dangerous place—too dangerous for a pair of 17-year-olds more or less on their own in a city like Paris.

"Mom says your job made you paranoid," Kim (Maggie Grace) says almost shyly.

"My job made me aware," Bryan answers.

Awareness is a relative quality; there is such a thing as being too aware. Paranoia may be an occupational hazard for black-ops agents, but the same may be true for film critics, or even moviegoers with a diet of too many action movies. Many of us, over-exercised by media sensationalism and TV and movie violence, habitually overestimate the extent to which we are at risk on a day-to-day basis. One may start to feel that imminent danger lurks around every corner, that every passer-by is a potential assailant.

Novelist David Foster Wallace described how pornography sexualizes real life by creating a narrative world in which sex is always a heartbeat away. In a similar way, thrillers like The Brave One and Man on Fire, in which violent crime is always a heartbeat away, may be a kind of violence porn. Where other movies—Die Hard, say—deliberately depict highly exceptional and extraordinary circumstances, these movies depict terrifying crimes as the norm—as what is likely to happen at any time to anyone.

Directed by Luc Besson protégé Pierre Morel (District B13) and produced and co-written by Besson, Taken is slicker and smarter than that. Although well-crafted but improbable action set pieces cast the 56-year-old Neeson as an essentially indomitable ...

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Taken
Our Rating
2½ Stars - Fair
Average Rating
 
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Mpaa Rating
PG-13 (for intense sequences of violence, disturbing thematic material, sexual content, some drug references and language)
Directed By
Pierre Morel
Run Time
1 hour 30 minutes
Cast
Liam Neeson, Maggie Grace, Leland Orser, Jon Gries
Theatre Release
January 30, 2009 by 20th Century Fox
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