Dir: Pierre Morel
Star: Liam Neeson, Olivier Rabourdin, Maggie Grace, Famke Janssen

A disappointingly simplistic entry in the ongoing series of Euro-thrillers churned out by Luc Besson, it has highly-trained CIA agent Bryan Mills (Neeson), whizzing through Paris like a rugged Dobermann. He's chasing after those who kidnapped his estranged daughter (Grace), immediately on her arrival in France, so they can turn her into a drug-addicted prostitute. Yes, apparently - and the script actually says this with a straight face - it's easier to kidnap Americans than, oh, import your hookers from Eastern Europe. Anyway, Mills uses his skills to plough through the Albanian gangsters initially responsible, then on to the sleazy Arab who has bought his little girl. And the quality of Mills' mercy is...well, we never find out, since he never shows any. Fortunately, despite all the bodies left in his wake, the French authorities just want him to go away and stop causing trouble. You could see this as a metaphor for American policy in the Middle East, I'm sure.

I'm getting some other mixed messages here. Teenage daughters who lie to their fathers will get kidnapped and abused. and it's really what the little sluts deserve. Ok, I'm probably in general agreeement with the movie there. Everyone in Europe - but particularly, all Ay-rabs - are sleazy mofos, who want nothing more than a white (read: American) woman. Tsk, tsk, Luc: while I know you want to out-Hollywood Hollywood, I expect better from you than this tired series of cliches, which plays out like a rejected episode of 24. I note in particular that both imperilled daughters are named Kim, and half-expected a mountain lion to be part of the threat here. The film's trump-card is Neeson, who springs through the nonsense with enough conviction to make the proceedings bearable. I will confess, the time did pass painlessly and quickly, thanks to Neeson, who is rarely off-screen. He gives proceedings a gravitas they hardly deserve, and if this still falls some way short of greatness, or even goodness, I've seen worse.

[December 2009]

Taken but not stirred
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