So once again we have survived.

Taken

TAKEN has finally hit American shores many months after everybody else in the world already saw it and emailed me about it. As reported, it is a Luc Besson-produced version of a Seagal-type scenario: ex–CIA badass’s daughter gets kidnapped in Paris, he goes and gets her back. An old favorite. The hook is that this badass is not played by a Seagal, or even a Statham. It’s Liam Neeson (SCHINDLER’S LIST).

Okay, so admittedly action is not completely new for Neeson. He was a swordsman in both BATMAN BEGINS and PHANTOM MENACE. A long time ago he was Darkman. He even co-starred in a (not very good) Patrick Swayze action picture called NEXT OF KIN. (The one where not-famous-yet Ben Stiller plays a mobster’s douchebag son.) But mostly he’s moved beyond that, and I think most people consider him a Serious Actor. You know – MICHAEL COLLINS, KINSEY, GANGS OF NEW YORK, Spielberg’s choice to play Lincoln. And here he is playing a role that the first Ain’t It Cool review complained could’ve been played by Jean-Claude Van Damme. But of course you and I agree that’s why it’s so cool. We want to see a Van Damme movie but with Liam Neeson. Or how about a Michael Dudikoff with Frank Langella? Or a Bolo Yeung with Daniel Day Lewis? A Cynthia Rothrock with Susan Sarandon?

TakenIn TAKEN Liam Neeson gets to do all the badass ex-CIA shit that was so sorely lacking in ETHAN FROME and LES MISERABLES. Lots of quick, blunt chops to dispatch foes, appearing out of nowhere to beat people up, outsmarting and outfighting police and organized crime to find out things he’s not supposed to know and get into places he’s not supposed to be, working his way through the chain to find his daughter. As a bonus he thwarts a knife attack on a pop star.

But let’s be honest, this character Bryan Mills is a bad motherfucker in need of a better movie. For starters, the story takes unnecessarily long to get going. It’s not a dealbreaker but it’s kind of weird for a lean 93 minute movie to start out so leisurely. It’s possible that writers Besson and Robert Mark Kamen think they’re doing something more than a kidnapped daughter movie and are trying to go a little deeper into the characters than you expect, but if so they blew it. I like the whole idea of Bryan trying to reconnect with his estranged daughter on her birthday and being upstaged by her rich stepdad (who buys her a horse). But alot of time is spent on setting up the daughter while still making her seem like an annoying brat. She loves crappy pop music, wears an ugly sequined jacket and spends most of her screen time hopping up and down and squealing in excitement over various expensive gifts. And she seems completely unaware of her status as the priveleged stepdaughter of the super-rich. She hugs her two fathers and tells them she loves them a few times throughout the movie, always because they bought her a gift or gave her permission to do something. At the end of course Bryan gets a hug for singlehandedly rescuing her from a syndicate of Albanian kidnappers who drugged her and sold her into sex slavery, but even then he has to introduce her to a celebrity to feel like he won her over. She learns nothing. If that’s the best you can do with her personality that’s fine, just make the setup short and sweet and assume we understand that the dude loves her because she’s his daughter. Sometimes simple is better.

Also, I don’t mind this that much, but I should mention it has some of the typical goofball Luc Besson shit. For example the movie opens with him going into a Radio Shack and talking to the manager who knows him because he has come in and looked at the karaoke machine so many times. I was convinced the only reason to include this was if this guy was gonna turn into his Q, providing the latest in Radio Shack brand surveillance technology, but of course nothing becomes of it. There really is no reason to include this, it’s just how Luc Besson rolls.

Maybe the funniest thing in the movie is that Bryan is seemingly a paranoid, overprotective father, he knows about all the horrible things that happen in this world so he can’t stand to let his daughter be out there on her own, and only under duress does he give her permission to go to Europe. And then sure enough, two minutes after she arrives at the house where she’s staying a group of kidnappers bust down the door and grab her and her friend to drug and sell into sex slavery. You see that, Famke Jansen? You should listen to your ex-husband. He knows what he’s talking about.

I do have a problem with all the action being shot Bourne style. It’s cool to see Neeson kicking ass, but you really don’t see most of it because the camera is shaking around so much. You gotta assume this is partly to cover up that Liam Neeson is not Bruce Lee, but then they do the same thing in the car chase, so maybe not. Like the Bourne movies you can understand some of what’s going on and they are still pretty cool scenes, but not exactly classics. (and not as good as the best Bourne scenes.) Director Pierre Morel previously did BANLIEU 13/DISTRICT B13 and it’s not like I expect Neeson to jump through windows and run up walls, but that movie showed that Morell could craft amazing action scenes. Ironically, shaking the camera around so you can’t see anything is supposed to make it seem more real, but check out this incredible 3 minute chase scene where the camera doesn’t shake around because the stunts are real.

I don’t know man, I know I sound like a broken record here but this was only a couple years ago and he was allowed to shoot an action scene as if he had intentionally planned it out and wanted to get the best angles to tell the story. It’s no longer in style to show effort or planning I guess, you gotta pretend you just got out of bed, you’re still in your bathrobe and are too groggy to hold the camera steady and that’s why the audience will not quite see the badass shit that is probaly going on nearby.

Is this the end of an era? Besson productions were never completely trustworthy, but they were at least known for good action scenes. The TAXI series (not the Jimmy Fallon one), the TRANSPORTER series, and of course it was YAMIKASI and DISTRICT B13 that introduced the world to the French art of parkour, later borrowed for CASINO ROYALE. I hope this is a fluke and not a sign that even Besson is throwing in the towel and adopting the Bourne style. This is certainly not the worst example but for fuck’s sake, let’s give this style a rest! It’s over. QUANTUM OF SOLACE broke the dam, it’s not just me complaining about this shit anymore, it’s just about everybody. And even if some people like that, I bet you five bucks they won’t complain if you start making carefully planned action sequences again. Even the stupidest text messaging little fucker you ever saw will not complain that the shots are too well framed and that he is too aware of what is going on in the scene. Follow my plan and nobody loses.

For those reasons TAKEN is not as good as it ought to be, but I do think it’s worth watching and I hope they make a series of these, like THE TRANSPORTER. I guess they should’ve called it THE PREVENTER though, because if it’s TAKEN 2 somebody’s gonna have to get kidnapped again. My guess: the daughter becomes a famous singer and gets kidnapped for ransom. Or maybe the ex-wife gets it this time. Whatever would happen I hope Bryan would call on his security buddies who come over to barbecue with him. That seemed like classic action movie setup, showing us the elite team he will have help him at the end, but then they never do. You feel bad for them.

Now let’s have one starring Ralph Fiennes as an ex-Navy SEAL who goes to Afghanistan to hunt down drug traffickers after his niece ODs on heroin.

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.
This entry was posted on Wednesday, February 4th, 2009 at 12:51 pm and is filed under Reviews, Thriller. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

49 Responses to “Taken”

  1. One Guy From Andromeda

    May 13th, 2009 at 6:44 pm

    I think you’re too hard on it. Sure, his daughter is a terrible person and the scenes with her a bore, but everything from her kidnapping to the moment he rescues her is pretty badass. I really liked how completely linear it was, he turns 100% pro and everything (starting with every twitch of his face) is in the service of finishing the job only from then on. He was like Parker with a heart and droopy eyes!

  2. One Guy – Good observation.

    Vern – I’m surprised you didn’t make mention of how TAKEN is practically a retake of David Mamet’s kickass SPARTAN.

    Consider:

    (1) White prominent girl kidnapped (Daughter of politician, wealthy businessman)
    (2) Former special ops warrior going rogue, alone and personal to save her (Kilmer on personal plea of pseudo-mother, Neeson’s kid)
    (3) Both girls sold to sex slavery rings.
    (4) Both end up being owned by Middle-Easterners
    (5) Government bureaucracy gets in way of Hero (French Govt/Secret Service)
    (6) Hero uses flashy knife moves
    (7) Airports feature very prominently as set pieces (SPARTAN’s climax/where girl got tracked)

    Both TAKEN and SPARTAN are very enjoyable actioneers, but SPARTAN is just better for many reasons.

    The most prominent, Kilmer is a true hero. Neeson does what he does because its his kid, and wouldn’t we expect a father to do that? Kilmer though has no personal connections to this girl that he doesn’t know until he snatches her back, and indeed is forced to into hiding after he saves her and basically defeated his own corrupt government.

    Funny how Mamet has grown conservative in recent years, yet SPARTAN is a great fuck you to the bullshit in both Clinton and Dubya White Houses….

  3. Well, I’ll check it out again. I had very high hopes for it and it didn’t really live up to them, but it was enjoyable and I hope they do a sequel(s).

    Good comparison to SPARTAN, although that one just is so far and a way better that they don’t really feel the same. The weird thing is that SPARTAN is less of an action movie but that one scene where he switches himself for the dummy is better choreographed than anything in TAKEN.

    I think what we need then is TAKEN 2 written and directed by David Mamet.

  4. I found this movie to be too reactionary, and this is coming from a guy who loves the Death Wish films, the Dirty Harrys etc. I just didn’t like how the film seemed to advocate Neeson’s paranoid world view. It made me uncomfortable.

  5. That’s a good comparison – DEATH WISH and so many other movies make it seem like all you have to do is walk down the street in a city and somebody will definitely try to mug or rape you. (I always wonder how they get so lucky in their vigilante patrols.) TAKEN is hilarious in its insistence that the moment she sets foot in another country she will be kidnapped and turned into a sex slave.

    Google “Gene Shalit Taken” to find a hilarious review where Shalit claims TAKEN is an important warning, and the other people on the Today Show, not having seen the movie, seem to believe him.

    But I think that aspect of TAKEN might be meant as a joke. With a French director and producer showing Americans a paranoid view of Paris I’m not sure how serious you can take it. Maybe they’re just trying to scare away annoying tourists. It also seems to me like it might be intentionally funny the way her dreams of becoming a crappy pop singer are presented as more important than her being saved from sex slavery. But I’m not sure.

  6. I hate the whole line people drop where they say “Once the daughter gets kidnapped, the movie gets awesome,” because yeah, that’s kind of true, but the kidnapping happens over a half hour into a 90 minute movie. And that’s counting credits. So you have a run of the mill action movie that’s only draw is seeing Liam Neeson be a badass, and there’s less then an hour of that!
    For the record, I didn’t hate Taken, I thought it was fun, but it has some major issues, and seeing everyone lose their minds over kind of just makes me think about all those issues even more. I went to see it with a couple buddies who aren’t as film geeky as I am (they’ve never seen Road Warrior, if that gives you a point of view) and when it was over they both lost their minds over how they thought it was such a great movie, and I was kind of left standing there puzzled. To people who think like my pals I recommend you go to a video store and watch a little movie called ‘Darkman.’ THAT is a great Liam-Neeson-brutally-murdering-gangsters-who-fucked-with-his-life movie. I would go on and on about how great it is, but thankfully, Vern already summed it up perfectly with his review of Darkman. So…yeah.

  7. Just watched it and I pretty much liked it.
    His daughter didn’t come across that spoiled to me. I mean, she obviously loved her dad and was (although secretly, by whispering in his ear) taking sides with him, when her asshole-mom critizised the shit out of him and his Birthday present. The only three things that really annoyed me are:

    – The whole thing with the popstar. I think it was supposed to show that he can beat the crap out of a maniac, who jumps with a knife out of a dark corner. But in fact it’s stuff that is nice to watch as bonus material on the DVD, but not really necessary in the movie. Especially because the last scene before the credits make it look like they are trying to set up a spin off, about his daughter and how she becomes a popstar.

    – Some too predictable cliches in the script. In the second when he meets his old friend in Paris, who tries to keep him away from causing trouble, I knew that he had something to do with it. I also knew that he won’t be able to save his daughter’s friend, because that’s what always happen in these movies.

    – The lack of a real villain. To me all the bad guys were faceless goons, which also causes a surprisingly lack of tension during the showdown.

    (And of course the shaky cam, but you know how i think about it, so I won’t mention it this time.)

    But I loved the kidnapping scene! Seriously, that was some really intense shit! Instead of telling his daughter on the phone to run, he just tells her completely calm and concentrated that they will catch her anyway and what she has to do then! If I had anything to do with that movie, I would have used that scene as teaser trailer! From the beginning of the phonecall, to Liam’s badass speech about his abilities and the gangster saying: “Good luck”. Okay, later the critics would complain that the movie doesn’t hold up to its awesome teaser, but well, you can’t please anybody.
    And, y’know, while I can see why a sequel would be interesting for some of you, I demand in all seriousness a PREQUEL! Why? Well, Liam Neeson, Leland Orser, Jon Gries and David Warshofsky on a secret mission. That’s why! (It would also be okay for me, if they have a more active role in the sequel.)

    One last thing, not really related to the movie: I heard that Kiefer Sutherland’s contract for “24” is running out next season. Am I the only one who would love to see Liam Neeson fighting week for week his way through some dastardly terrorists? “Taken” was in several countries distributed by 20th Century Fox, so maybe they can also figure out a deal to let Neeson play the same character in the show. He already borrowed the shoot-the-villain’s-innocent-wife-to-get-what-I-want-from-him-trick from Jack Bauer anyway.

  8. Are you joking about the teaser trailer? Because that’s exactly what they used as the trailer in the U.S. And some jackass had to say the “I will find you and I will kill you” line along with him when I saw the movie.

  9. Seriously? I gotta admit that I haven’t seen one single trailer for it anywhere and also didn’t hear anybody talk about “that awesome Liem Neeson kidnapping teaser”. It pretty much flew under my radar until it came out on DVD a few weeks ago, also because the name of it over here is “96 Hours (note that this is EXACTLY the German title. Not “96 Stunden”, “96 Hours”. They replaced an English title with another English one!). I have to look that Teaser up.

  10. Okay, found it. But i would have used JUST that scene. without any intercuts or the 24-ish split screens. (See? I’m not the only one who thought of 24!) Kinda like what they did with the Teaser for “Rise Of The Silver Surfer”. Just the scene, nothing else, except for the name of the movie.

  11. Sure it’s flawed, and plays like a more mainstream Spartan, but I thought Taken was a great time at the movies. I’m pretty sure Europa are just poking fun at reactionary Bush-era American attitudes to foreigners/the rest of the world.

    But I do think we need to recognise it’s place in recent Badass cinema, because the whole thing is held together by a Neeson performance of extraordinary magnitude.

    I know we know him from Krull, The Big Man, Dark Man and Next of Kin – but for most of the civilians out there he’s Schindler or Kinsey or fucking Aslan. He is Qui Gon Al Ghul, actor du jour for quiet, mentorly, semi-retired, badass-only-on-a-consultant-basis roles.

    So to see – in a packed cinema – him shoot his buddy’s wife in the arm (after she was so sweet to him, cooking his dinner) to make his point was in the top percentile of entertaining bits of business shown in theatres this year.

  12. I still hope that one day female character actresses will start to make action movies. And not as eye candy amazon in a leather catsuit (a.k.a. the modern action film version of feminism), but as “normal” action heroes, like Liam Neeson here. I would love to see Kate Winslet kick some ass!

  13. What about The Brave One? The ending totally punked out, but Jodie Foster was fucking badass.

  14. Uh guys? Uma?

  15. Uma nonwithstanding, I would like to see some more female badass roles out there. The problem is twofold, I think, with screenwriters not knowing how to write for female characters or having much interest in them, and most actresses not having the gravitas you need to anchor a good badass role. Too many generic pretty, bubbly twentysomthings out there who get most of the work.Badasses are as a rule not generically pretty; they tend to be more average looking people who are more attractive because of their moxie than their fine features. Casting for women in hollywood is kind of like if Freddie Prinz Jr. was the standard look for males. Not a great method to end up with a lot of good badasses.

    But sometimes they slip through the cracks, like Uma who totally fucking rocks ass in Kill Bill, or even Foster working hard for a terrible movie. For my money, I think Carrie Ann Moss as Trinity also did the job (sure its leather, but its not terribly sexy and she takes her lumps like as pro). Angelina Jolie has had iffy success doing this, though I think she probably still has a badass performance in her somewhere. Milla Jovovich has been trying for a while but hasn’t really come close, dunno if its just the lousy material she works with or if its her (I’m inclined to think she just doesn’t quite have that extra umf that makes guys like Willis seem badass even when they’re in crap).

    And since those ladies time, it seems like all we ever see cast are Megan Fox clones.

    Maybe TAKEN 2 will star Meryl Streep, though.

  16. I would pay to see a movie where Kathy Bates takes out the trash with a double-barrel shotty. Like, maybe her son gets killed in a drive-by and she gets revenge.

    Tagline: “These motherfuckers just fucked with the wrong mother.”

  17. “The Brave One” was an action movie? (I’m seriously asking. Haven’t seen it yet.)
    But now that I think of it, isn’t it strange that there are no “realistic” action movies with women? We only have cartoony stuff like “Kill Bill”, “Matrix”, “Tomb Raider” or whatever the fuck Milla Jovovich is doing. Not that I wouldn’t like it, it’s just a little bit weird to me. It’s like Hollywood thinks that women can’t fight in the “real” world.

  18. THE BRAVE ONE was funny, a would-be anti-vigilante morality play…and yet ultimately the heroine goes unpunished for her deeds. What’s so “brave” about that one?

    I truely bet Foster thought she could score a 3rd Oscar.

  19. Well, like I said I didn’t love the movie, but there’s that ANGEL OF DEATH starring Zoe Bell. It’s cartoony but more based in the real world than most of those other ones mentioned.

    Another stuntwoman turned sometimes actress was whatsername who starred in the Tom Savini remake of NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD. I wish she did more movies.

    I think what happened is you had Ripley and Sarah Conner both turning badass in their respective part 2s, and Hollywood saw that everybody loved that shit. But then the people trying to capitalize on or pay homage to those characters completely missed what was great about them. They thought you could take any pretty actress and put different clothes on her and give her a gun and that makes her Ripley. They didn’t know how to replicate their attitudes and intelligence, just their outfits and props.

  20. Vern — agree completely. You can almost hear the execs going – “Well, the kids liked Sigourney in ALIENS, right? Well, they’ll like her even more if she’s sexier and younger! Without all that gross sweating!”

  21. I don’t know, I think the modern kickass chick is more derived from anime than Sigourney or Linda Hamilton. It’s all fetishistic costumes and comic book poses. They kick ass because they’re hot and vice versa. It’s just nerd masturbation fodder.

  22. I love the movie of Ben Stiller which is There is something about mary, nice love story and comedy.;,’

  23. well that was TAKEN out of context, eh?

  24. You know I’m still baffled (if in a good way) about how this movie made Neeson an action star in his late 50s. Then again, TAKEN is the sort of movie Charles Bronson would’ve made back in his heyday. I certainly think for all the torturing and murdering he does in the movie, most audiences liked it because of Neeson bringing his A-game to what is effectively a B-court.

    Not many will argue with me if I say that scene in the trailer when he threatens the bad guys over the phone is what sold the movie in America.

  25. Yeah, it made for an enjoyable trailer even if I thought the whole film wouldn’t live up to it. I’ve seen bits and pieces, mostly the end so it’s kind of ruined for me. Gathering from what another user said about the film’s politics, it would haven’t been as pleasant just to watch the whole thing. And I heard the sequel is getting pretty universal neutral or negative reviews.

    But I like Neeson as an actor in general, and think THE GREY is the best film I’ve seen so far this year. I’d imagine nobody is more baffled at this recent resurgence in his career as an action star than Liam himself. He was on INSIDE THE ACTOR’S STUDIO this week and said he thought TAKEN would have just been a straight-to-video thing and that’d be it. Good episode by the way, am very curious to see MICHAEL COLLINS now that it’s on Netflix Instant.

  26. I think his age is a factor to the sort of action roles he’s been playing, as with this, and Qui Gon and Ra’s Al Ghul and Hannibal Smith, he’s playing father/mentor/leader figures. If he was just playing a vigilante fighting sex traffickers just…because, I don’t think the character would be as likeable/relatable.

  27. Well the tracking experts claim TAKEN 2 has a good shot (in spite of many bad reviews) of breaking $50 million this weekend. Well good for Neeson and Besson. But this pisses me off.

    Not at them or the movie itself (not seen it yet) but all these assholes allegedly hungry for action escapism, where the fuck were they for DREDD? Pardon my French, I’m pretty fucking sure TAKEN 2 won’t be as good as DREDD.

    Again nothing against Besson’s people since it seems they’ve hit another lottery ticket for a B series that usually should come and go under 2 weeks like his B-productions tend to do.

  28. TAKEN TOO: STILL TAKEN AFTER ALL THESE YEARS is not as good as DREDD but it’s not as bad as they’re saying either. It’s a typical sequel in the way it tries to tie things to the original and show where the characters to from there, but Franchise Fred approves of that.

    Some fun action scenes and definitely doesn’t take itself seriously,though all the characters in it are serious. The only real problem is Olivier Megaton. Why does Besson hire that guy?

  29. Five years behind, I just watched this last night. I was pretty impressed, to be totally honest. When the first (small) action scene occurs, and its all fast cuts and sort of incomprehensible I got seriously worried. Also, when we were over thirty minutes deep and I realized the movie is only 90 minutes, I started wondering aloud when we were gonna finally get into it. That’s basically when the action started. While not perfect (Commando in my mind is perfect, and impossible to compare anything new to, but here we are. I do it all the time) I feel like you got to see enough hits made clearly. The car chase was pretty good, but nothing super memorable. The main thing I liked: once it started, it never really stopped being badass. The parts I will always remember: Neeson shooting that dude’s wife unexpectedly, telling that dude “it personal to me” and then unloading an entire clip in his face, the segment when he seems to crush the windpipes of everyone he encounters. The torture scene was also pretty brutal and Neeson’s character never disappointed by showing mercy. His quest being single minded and totally brutal, with so many “give me back my daughter” lines, with a little espionage type stuff thrown in and a ridiculous wrap-up that makes you wonder, “how did he get back home without this killing spree turning into an international incident?”, I enjoyed this. Shit, the more I think about it, I might watch that shit again tonight

  30. Am I the only one who finds that ending tying up that loose end with the pop star (which I’m sure most of the audience already forgot by the end) strangely out of place and a false step? Call me pretentious, I would’ve ended with Neeson alone at the airport after his “family” departs back to their new home…THE SEARCHERS level of visual commentary on that character’s place within that family dynamic and within this world.

    Also its funny but I agreed with Vern’s criticism of OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN where he was bothered by the hero torturing and the audience is supposed to eat up that red meat, but when I brought that point up to a friend of mine, he said it was no different from Neeson’s torture scene in TAKEN. And I totally disagreed.

    Why? Because of context. Butler in OHF is the righteous hero, pitted against the evil barbaric North Koreans and thus its OK to do a bad guy thing to a bad guy but when they did it to Melissa Leo? THOSE BASTARDS!

    With TAKEN, Neeson has no pretentious of being a hero. He outright says in that monologue that he’ll do whatever it takes to get his offspring back, and the mother fucker kept his word. It’s evil, but within this evil its “necessary” evil by his perspective. Think URBAN JUSTICE and that great line: “You’re just as bad as they are.” “No I’m fucking worse.”

  31. I just saw a preview for a new Kevin Costner movie where he’s playing a badass agent guy trying to leave the life behind and spend time with his daughter, but then gets dragged back into adventuresome hijinks. I thought to myself, “Is this supposed to be the next TAKEN?” I’m sure they’re hoping for the same kind of audience reaction of “who knew he could be such a badass mofo?!” What with an aging actor, who’s done some actiony movies, but not been an all out action figure and all. At least with Neeson we had DARKMAN to know he had the chops. It seems like most people forgot, or didn’t know, he did that role. I’m not so sure about Costner. This new one looks like it has more quips and less “give me back my daughter” intensity. I don’t know if that’s in Costners favor or not. Probably.

  32. I saw this again fairly recently and I guess post-action has finally shaken me into submission because I didn’t mind it as much this time around. Or rather, my reservations about the action scenes were crushed by Neeson’s badassness like the windpipe of an Albanian sex slaver. I appreciate how shamelessly and relentlessly the movie pushes your buttons, and does not give a good god damn how racist or sexist or fascist or ridiculous it comes off in the process.

    Yeah, that popstar subplot is completely useless and out-of-place. Like Vern said in his review, it actually cheapens Neeson’s actions. Everything in the film points to Neeson as an amoral, unstoppable death machine who is activated by his daughter’s kidnapping, but all the family bullshit seems to come from a different type of movie.

    I’m sure any studio would be happy to have their own TAKEN-a-like moneyspinner, but I don’t know if Costner is thought of as a Serious Actor the same way Neeson was when this came out. When I think of Costner I think of goofy blockbusters like WATERWORLD, THE BODYGUARD, THE POSTMAN and ROBIN HOOD WITH AN AMERICAN ACCENT. Maybe that’s just me.

  33. No, Costner definitely does not have the cache like Neeson. It’s too bad, too, because remember when he was cool? Back when he did THE UNTOUCHABLES, NO WAY OUT, BULL DURHAM, FIELD OF DREAMS, culminating with DANCING WITH WOLVES or JFK. Hell, I really liked him in SILVERADO before all of that. Then it all started falling apart when he was in the Madonna documentary and called something “neat”. I don’t know if that put the whammy on his career, or people started seeing him as a dork or he just got big enough that he felt he could do whatever projects he wanted and made bad decisions. He seems to be trying to make a comeback because he has several things in the hopper, including a new Jack Ryan movie.

  34. I like Costner, but I remember him more for his odd, bloated misfires than his hits. Sorry dude. Hope he makes a comeback; he was great in MAN OF STEEL.

  35. The trailer in question is 3 DAYS TO KILL:

    http://movies.yahoo.com/video/3-days-kill-trailer-163035060.html

    The reason it seems similar to TAKEN is it’s another one Luc Besson wrote. I think it looks good, and although he hasn’t really panned out I think at least on a technical level our boy McG is a way better filmatist than TAKEN’s Pierre Morel. His movies look better and have better action scenes. This one also has Besson’s long time cinematographer Thierry Arbogast.

  36. Luc Besson, that’s why I also got a hint of FROM PARIS WITH LOVE.

  37. Maggie – I think the Costner cameo in Truth or Dare was actually before Robin Hood, JFK, and The Bodyguard, so he was still a big player for a while. It’s probably the bloated failure of Wyatt Earp and the bad press of Waterworld (followed by The Postman) that killed his career. Honestly looking at his IMDB he hasn’t made many good movies since – the only one I liked was Open Range, though he’s good in Man of Steel (even though I didn’t like the changes to his character)

    That trailer for 3 Days to Kill does look like more trashy fun than Taken (i kinda love the “Academy Award Winner” Kevin Costner tag after the bad jokes in the trailer), but jury’s still out on McG for me – the action sequences in Charlie’s Angels 1/2 and T4 are actually kind of great, but This Means War was atrocious. Terrible story, terrible incoherent shaky-cam action sequences. I can’t believe that a) McG was one of the last purveyors of clear, crisp action, and b) he’s now fallen prey to the post-action bug.

    Re: Taken – it’s crazy looking at all these comments about the pop star in Taken – I literally don’t remember any such character or subplot at all, I guess that’s how important and memorable it was.

  38. I can see Costner getting a second life in aging tough guy roles. He played a hardened criminal in A PERFECT WORLD with that honor and I wouldn´t mind seeing him playing more hard edged characters.

  39. Like in 3000 MILES TO GRACELAND? My big joke about the end of that movie is that he looks less like Elvis and more like what would have happened if Sting left The Police and headed straight to Vegas himself.

  40. I didn´t mention that movie at all. A movie I hardly remember at all. I mentioned A PERFECT WORLD. Which is actually a memorable movie and Costners performance as a criminal on the run was a way more convincing performance than in any other film I have seen him in.

  41. No one liked Mr. Brooks? Not even a bit?

    Good call on A Perfect World. That was one of my favorite movies as a kid (they played it on HBO every day one summer). Recently rewatched it, and it was better than ever. I am all for a Costner comeback.

  42. Shoot – A PERFECT WORLD was terrific, but it was ignored when it came out. I guess because it wasn’t as good as UNFORGIVEN (which APW was Eastwood’s directorial follow-up), critics felt deflated and obviously audiences had no interest in it. Pity it was quite good.

    Randy – I liked the Costner stuff in MR. BROOKS, but fuck the dumbass Demi Moore bullshit subplot really trainwrecked what otherwise was a good HENRY-ish take with a serial killer, his best friend (his alter ego), and his daughter having her own troubles. I mean Costner having to fly down to her college and clean up one of her kills so the cops won’t link it to her? That was good shit.

    Seriously take out that Moore crap, the Costner narrative doesn’t need it at all.

  43. Shoot: I agree with you about A PERFECT WORLD. Just any excuse to break out that joke from time to time, which is admittedly a stretch to do (a non-sequitor of what’s already by now a non-sequitor).

    I’m a little surprised that after the success of HATFIELDS vs. MCCOYS, that he hasn’t tried to get his own series.

  44. RRA- I totally agree with you on that one. Actually, until you mentioned it, I had totally forgotten that Demi Moore was even in it. I think the main reason I enjoyed it was the daughter subplot you mentioned above, that Dane Cook totally defied expectations and didn’t make me wanna tear my eyes out (not to mention, he gets horribly murdered), and also anytime William Hurt was on screen. Didn’t hurt that Costner totally gets away with his crimes. But shit man, totally forgot Demi Moore was in it whatsoever

  45. Caught NON-STOP this weekend. Good fun. Sure the plot has holes big enough to drive a truck through, but I honestly only noticed them afterwards in reflection. (Though the same with UNKNOWN, which was made by the same director and w/ Neeson.)But at the moment, I was gripped by almost 2 hours with this airplane murder mystery/actioneer that worked for me as a paperback thriller armed with a Hitchcockian paranoid fantasy. (Again like UNKNOWN.)

    Or put it another way, I thought it had more meat to the bone than other recent actioneers like JACK RYAN and LEGEND OF HERCULES (ugh) and 3 DAYS TO KILL.

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  47. First look at NBC’s TAKEN Series

    Taken NBC promo

    Jennifer Beals and Clive Standen Taken Tv series

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