***/**** Image A- Sound A Extras B
starring Liam Neeson, Maggie Grace, Leland Orser, Famke Janssen
screenplay by Luc Besson & Robert Mark Kamen
directed by Pierre Morel
by Ian Pugh Director Pierre Morel's last film was that cookie-cutter nonsense District B13, while co-writers Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen have in recent times mainly presided over the Transporter series. So what surprises most about the trio's Taken is that, given its pedigree of orgiastic excess, every single one of its attributes is delivered in quantities that are just enough. All of its action sequences are just tightly edited enough to be exciting without becoming hyperactive; all of its characters are just developed enough to warrant analysis without interfering with the thrills; and its screaming misanthropy is just equal-opportunity enough to not feel like xenophobia. There's certainly a pathetic loneliness to ex-Black Ops agent Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson), still taking ersatz family photos with a disposable camera and struggling to direct the attention of his teenaged daughter Kim (25-year-old Maggie Grace, in a borderline grotesque woman-child performance) away from the rich asshole (Xander Berkeley) now married to his ex-wife (Famke Janssen). But when Kim is kidnapped by sex traffickers in Paris, it's a chance to utilize his training and indulge in wish-fulfillment of the most literal variety. Blowing past government procedure and busting up prostitution rings run by the upper class, Bryan's search eventually culminates in a violent showdown with a Middle Eastern sheikh.