Friday, February 6, 2009

Taken

I just went and actually spent money to go see a moving picture in the place with the really big TV and all the strangers loudly eating popcorn. The movie was Taken, and it was simply magnificent.

First, the disclaimers: the movie deals with girls being sold into the sex trade, and there are a few scenes that pushed the envelope in that arena (two scenes of girls being displayed in skimpy clothing come to mind), but it was done in a way that was the opposite of titillating: it was, to be honest, more reminiscent of Tom Wolfe's I am Charlotte Simmons than anything else. It was designed and effectively used to build up a very real hatred of the villains.

Also, there is an off-color joke in the beginning of the film, but one that would go over the heads of most younger viewers, kinda like when Holly watched Lady and the Highwayman and thought that "Carnival of pleasures" included a merry-go-round and cotton candy. There is a smattering of language, noticeable at the same time as the joke. This was the most awkward part of the movie, as it develops the lead character in a great rush: ex CIA, trying to reconnect with his daughter, to whom he has been a real jerk of a non-father. This section lacks continuity, but rapidly smooths itself out, and is not that bad anyway: it isn't to the point of distraction, it just doesn't have the same finesse as the rest of the movie.

Finally (on the objection front), is the most serious of the objections, and the only one that I could see actually posing a real problem: the ethical question of some of the violence used. The vast majority of it was necessary, and was done tastefully, not graphically. But there were a few parts where Neeson fudges the line between combat and simple brute violence to get done what needs to be done. The gray areas are absorbed into the white, and it is something that should be taken into consideration.

With that out of the way, let me say that I loved this movie, far more than I thought I would. The characters are developed so that we actually care about them, instead of the usual mild warm and fuzzies that we have toward the victims, we have a real sympathy and connection with the somewhat gangly, emotional and almost awkward daughter wearing lo-top converse with shorts on under her summer dress as she ecstatically tackles her dad in a very sweet scene. We respect and like Neeson, as he rapidly adapts to any situation, and uses his connections to try to give his daughter whatever he can, and we understand his ex-wife (which I had not expected).

Then, the movie takes off. Neeson is shown to be a very calculating beast of a man willing to do anything, to break any rule to recover his daughter. The phone conversation will become infamous, though to be honest, it could have been improved. The action picks up, the crooked cops, the hunting, the fighting, the interrogations, and the all-out war: "You don't remember me. We spoke on the phone two days ago. I told you I'd find you..."

It is brilliantly done, and is a very sweet movie in a very odd way. Neeson's magnificent voice and commanding presence make the movie what it is, as does the daughter's naive sweetness. It was a great, fun movie. It wasn't pretentious, and, incredible for it's genre, managed to (mostly) suspend disbelief through the one-man holocaust that is visited upon the evil sex-traders.

And, topping it off for me, it had some very satisfying scenes: the spotter that "got away," the rather expensive electric bill, the personal touch in an elevator, and the negotiation on a boat were all times when I felt like applauding, and the random guy sitting next to me felt like moving a few seats down.

Very fun, very good, and a very needed break. I highly recommend this movie.

1 comment:

nate downey said...

I am going to see this with my boss on Tuesday. Since we're both dads of little girls, it seemed to be an appropriate film.

I'm curious what your thoughts are on the 'evil begets evil' aspect of this and many other movies. As a Christian, how are we to think of earthly revenge?

Wodehousian Fun