A lot of people are saying that this movie is not like Taken. But I’m not going to start this review by saying what it isn’t like and instead say what it is like. The first movie that comes to mind is 8mm, starring Nicolas Cage and directed by Joel Schumacher. A drama/thriller about a private detective on the trail of people who are “not human”. 8mm was released in 1999, this is set in 1999. They’re not that similar though, people just need to keep an eye on what genre this actually is.
So anyway, Liam Neeson is a former detective turned private detective. And one of the benefits of suchs jobs is that unscrupulous individuals who need police insight, but don’t actually want police involvement, can come to your door and pay you big money. That’s what happens when a drug dealer approaches Neeson and asks him to find the men who kidnapped his wife then killed her even though he paid the $400,000 ransom. Neeson accepts the job knowing what his client’s probable intentions are. He doesn’t care. This is a good premise. Of course, there’s a lot more to it than that, but this is a story driven thriller, so spoilers would be ill advised.
I get that some people don’t and aren’t going to dig this movie much. It harkens back to 1970’s thrillers, slower and intended for longer digestion. Think Don Siegel, Gene Hackman or Steve McQueen. But that does not mean the movie is not without problems. Its main drawback is that there are just too many characters, the film could’ve made the same point and arguably a more efficient one with perhaps one villain, half as many aggrieved parties for Neeson to get around and less unnecessary back story.
When I’m speaking of back story, I mean for Neeson in particular. He’s playing a weary and weathered character, but we don’t need to break down his psychology like some trendy 2000’s liberal thriller. In the 1970’s, we didn’t know why Steven McQueen was brooding – real men don’t need to gush about what happened to them. They keep their mouth shut and move forward, so the narrative here should’ve done the same.
The trade off though is a very watchable movie, if you’re willing to give it a chance. Violent with a killer performance from Neeson’s cynical ex-cop, his phone conversations with the kidnappers, where he verbally puts them in place, are supremely manly. There’s even a child actor who surprisingly doesn’t annoy. Violent as fuck too, this movie, but only when necessary.
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