So, with the unpleasant aftertaste of Quantum of Solace still on our breath like so much badly advised kebab we’ll try and gargle clean (ok, enough already) with the film we suspectted we should have been going to see anyhoo.

I have gone on about Luc Besson being a one man action movie franchise a few
times before. I, for one, am rather fond of the ludicrous check-your-brain stuff that he repeatedly facilitates. The latest offering Taken suffers a little too much from Bourne-syndrome. That trilogy having moved the goalposts so far that every action film feels the need to be gritty, muscular, tense, a combination thereof, or preferably all three. For the first outing of the new Bond the makers hedged their bets a little too much for my liking but seemed to be on the right track. Shame about the second.

Liam Neeson (when did he stop being a huge potato-faced horny son off toil and become an old man? Wearing it well, though he is) is an ex US secret service/special ops type – you know the kind; kill you with his pinky but just wanting a quiet life? In a brilliantly twisted way (French production, Irish Star…) he gets completely paranoid about his daughter going to Paris for a bit. Coz, y’know, Europe’s completely riddled with maniacs and terrorists these days. Needless to say, he’s completely right and some former soviet types kidnap her to be sold into white slavery. At which point he gives them a chance them makes the observation “I will look for you, I will find you, and I will kill you.”
Which, of course, he does. (Don’t think that could be classed as a spoiler.) And, that’s pretty much it. Premise, picture – job done.

In among the sheer carnage, there are some really cracking set pieces. You can tell they are, even though we have no doubt in our minds what is happening here and how it’s going to resolve itself (including unnecessary cheesey epilogue) there a moments of palplable tension and adrenillin. The scene where he is impotent to help as his daughter talks to him on the phone and the kidnappers are closing in on her is another “that’s the way to do it”. There’a brilliant chase the wrong way through traffic at CDG. A fantastically shocking moment when he confornts the old-friend-turned-traitor (see, you could write this yourself). And, I was genuinely on the edge of my seat hoping he’d catch up with some villains (middle eatern types this time) in the ultimate chase sequence.

Like the rest of it, the dialogue (or what there is of it) is bad-ass, terse, ultimately naff, but actually quite cool.

There’s a lot to be said about b-movies, which this most certainly is. The cheap-as-chips quality to this does make it considerably more interesting. It’s the less is more asthetic. It doesn’t particualrly look low budget, but neither does it have the superflouous excesses of many a lesser hollywood actioner…let’s see, what comes to mind…. Neeson may be completely two-dimensional but you don’t really need more. Motivation. Method. Ta-da! Movie.

And, yes, it is much, much better than it.


Written by Tony Kiernan

13 November 2008 at 1:12 pm

Posted in Film

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