Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Taken

To paraphrase Lance, you're not necessarily stupid if you liked this movie, but this movie was made for stupid people.

Sadly, this explains how it made so much money; it cynically targets our most base instincts. Just look at the poster; everything you need to know is right there. People want to identify with a guy who becomes an unstoppable killing machine in order to rescue his lost daughter. It's the perfect outlet for the rage we would feel in that situation. But why does the rest of the film have to be so mindless?

I can't remember all the points in the film that struck me as being ridiculous, but I do recall writing something on facebook to the effect of "Taken has plot holes big enough to drive a Hummer through, which is exactly the vehicle fans of this movie wish they could afford." I know one scene that bothered me is when he has the bad guy's voice on recording and somehow gets the right guy to say it, even though there are several men in the room.

I didn't even find the myriad action sequences all that enjoyable. Liam Neeson's enraged father beats the crap out of everyone who crosses his path. None of it's terribly inventive, and it happens over and over again. Lather, rinse, repeat.

There's also an underlying message to Taken that's insidious and irresponsible, especially in light of how xenophobic America has become: Europe is a scary place.

You can get kidnapped out of an upper-middle class neighborhood in Paris in the middle of the day because you flirted with a guy at the airport. It will be Albanians who do it, and you don't know where Albania is, but you're sure it's in Europe somewhere, and therefore evil. There's this huge sex slave trade network, and they don't care whom they steal, from whatever country. In fact, it's a bonus if you're an American. Oh, and just in case you're expecting the French government to help you (especially when your dad is friends with a higher-up), forget about it. They're in cahoots with the bad guys. Because they're French, and therefore evil.

Of course, anyone who's ever been to Europe could tell you this is ridiculous, that you're a lot more likely to encounter violence here at home. But I'm afraid that for a lot of the unwashed masses, this will only confirm their suspicions about traveling abroad. We just lived through eight nightmarish years under a yokel who never bothered with Europe until he was elected president, even though he was rich, and his father at one time was ambassador to the United Nations. I'll bet people who voted for Bush love this movie. As well as teenagers, of course.

All of this seems odd when juxtaposed with the fact that the film's star is an Irishman. Paradoxically, Neeson is the only thing I really like about the movie, yet I'm a bit disappointed in him for participating in such a vapid exercise. I understand everyone needs to get paid sometime, but even Love, Actually had more brains than this.

Nolanometer Final Grade: D+

3 comments:

Simon said...

Nolan,

Got to give it up to you here: the visceral reaction you had to this honking piece of sh' is the same one I had. How is it possible that they portray Paris as being some scary place when the protagonist lives in LA? Are you kidding me?!

This central premise of ridiculously is just expounded on with a sex ring run by abducting women from the airport (how could this risk/reward be justified, even for the most ardent criminals) as well as some crazed bidding war?

I wish I could have the hours of my life back I spent watching this turd.

-Simon

megan said...

A friend was trying to explain the plot to me, and she said, "It's about a father who kills dozens of people to save his idiot daughter. But it's okay, because they are Albanians." Uh... well... you know, yeah! I guess that's what it was about.

Didn't Liam Neeson identify "good luck" Markos by the tattoo on his arm, which an old spy buddy remembered from a search of the database of criminal Albanian body art? I'm being sarcastic, but really. I remember a phone call about a Communist-looking tattoo, somewhere between the explosions and car chases along the Seine. So, Markos repeating "good luck" was merely a confirmation that Liam Neeson identified the correct person, right? An obscure and insufficient explanation, but hey. They tried.

I can't believe I just spent three minutes commenting on this movie.

Nolan said...

From a college student's facebook update:

"the movie TAKEN, wants me never to go to Europe."

Point, Nolan