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Pierre Morel
Liam Neeson, Famke Janssen, Leland Orser, Radivoje Bukvic, Mathieu Busson, Holly Valance, Katie Cassidy
Writing Credits:
Luc Besson, Robert Mark Kamen

They took his daughter. He'll take their lives.

Prepare to get Taken for the ride of your life! "Liam Neeson is an unstoppable force" (Premiere) in this action-packed international thriller that will have you on the edge of your seat from start to finish. When his estranged teenage daughter (Maggie Grace) is kidnapped in Paris, a former spy (Neeson) sets out to find her at any cost. Relying on his special skills, he tracks down the ruthless gang that abducted her and launches a one-man war to bring them to justice and rescue his daughter.

Box Office:
Opening Weekend
$24.717 million on 3183 screens.
Domestic Gross
$144.197 million.

Rated PG-13

Widescreen 2.40:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Original Theatrical Version: 91 min.
Unrated Edition: 94 min.

Price: $39.99
Release Date: 5/12/2009

Disc One:
• Both Theatrical and Unrated Versions of the Film
• Audio Commentary with Director Pierre Morel, Cinematographer Michel Abramowicz, and Car Stunt Supervisor Michel Julienne
• Audio Commentary with Co-Screenwriter Robert Mark Kamen
• “Le Making-of” Featurette
• “Avant Premiere” Featurette
• “Inside Action” Side-by-Side Comparisons
• “Black Ops Field Manual” Interactive Feature
• Previews
Disc Two:
• Digital Copy


Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


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Taken: Extended Cut [Blu-Ray] (2008)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (May 22, 2009)

Liam Neeson, action star? Apparently, as he starred in 2009’s Taken, a surprise hit that came out of nowhere and earned a tidy $144 million – less than $1 million behind Paul Blart: Mall Cop as the second most successful January release ever. How “out of nowhere” was Taken? The movie played Europe nearly a year before it got its “garbage time” US release. Clearly no one at Fox expected much from it, so that makes its success more gratifying.

Neeson plays a former CIA agent named Bryan Mills who now lives the life of the lazy retiree. After a lifetime away from her, he quits to be close to his 17-year-old daughter Kim (Maggie Grace), a factor made difficult by antagonism with ex-wife Lenore (Famke Janssen) and her super-rich husband Stuart (Xander Berkeley).

Bryan’s former life intersects with his current one when Kim and her friend Amanda (Katie Cassidy) go to Europe to follow U2 for the summer. Things immediately go awry; they meet a handsome Parisian named Peter (Nicolas Giraud) at the airport, but it turns out he’s a scout for a slavery ring. His employers kidnap the girls, all while Bryan witnesses the event via cell phone. This sets him immediately into motion as he re-enters spy mode and goes to rescue his daughter.

As I implied at the start of my review, Neeson doesn’t really strike me as the action hero sort. Actually, he’s played a number of roles in that genre, but he just doesn’t fit into the Bruce Willis mold, so I never think of him that way.

Perhaps that’s a good thing, as he brings a nice gravitas to his role here. If done wrong, Taken would’ve been nothing more than a generic, brainless action flick. As I watched, I felt surprised how much it reminded me of the super-violent movies of the 80s; it would be very easy to imagine Stallone as Bryan.

However, it’s not easy to imagine that Stallone would give the part such a sense of emotion and nuance. That’s what Neeson brings to the table: he adds heart and personality to a role that could’ve been thoroughly one-dimensional.

Take the scene in which Kim gets kidnapped, for example. As Bryan instructs her, he combines the cold efficiency that comes from his training with the fears that a father would feel. It’s a great little moment from Neeson, as he conveys so much in a quiet, understated way.

And he pulls off the tough guy stuff, too. As I alluded at the start, Neeson hasn’t done much work in this genre, but he turns into a believable badass. He can be positively brutal when necessary, but he’s a good enough actor that we buy him as the doting father as well.

Taken also impresses due to its relentless quality. It never gives us an easy out with comic relief or shots of Bryan in repose. Which makes sense – he’s on a race and has no time to spare. The film conveys this with its intense pace.

At no point does Taken turn into anything terribly inventive or revolutionary. However, it does what it needs to do. It provides a tight action flick that keeps us engaged.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B+/ Bonus B

Taken appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The film provides an attractive visual experience.

Sharpness proved positive. A few wide shots showed minimal softness at most, as the majority of the film displayed solid clarity and accuracy. I noticed no issues with jagged edges or shimmer, and edge enhancement seemed to be absent. Source flaws also failed to be a concern. The film featured natural levels of grain and didn’t appear to have been subjected to excessive noise reduction.

Like most modern films of this sort, the movie went with a subdued, stylistic palette. It looked a bit golden at the start but went with a more pale sensibility after Kim’s kidnapping. The tones reflected the nature of the material and looked fine. Blacks were dark and dense, while shadows seemed decent. The movie’s high contrast look sometimes meant that low-light shots were somewhat thick, but they usually worked well. Overall, the image satisfied.

I felt the same about the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Taken. The film’s occasional set pieces offered the most dynamic elements. Sequences like fights and car chases opened up the soundfield well and gave us a nice sense of involvement. Music showed good stereo imaging, and the flick used the surrounds well. The back speakers worked as active participants and placed us in the action.

Audio quality proved pleasing. Speech was natural and distinctive, without edginess or other concerns. Music appeared lively and dynamic, and effects fared well. Those elements sounded full and rich at all times. Low-end response was quite good and brought out a good sense of depth. This turned into a pretty positive package.

We get a mix of extras here. The Blu-ray includes both the PG-13 rated theatrical cut of Taken as well as an unrated edition of the film. The theatrical version runs one hour, 30 minutes and 55 seconds, while the unrated one goes for one hour, 33 minutes, 25 seconds. I only watched the unrated version, so I can’t comment on the changes that come with the extra two and a half minutes. Nonetheless, I wanted to mention the presence of the two versions.

The disc includes two separate audio commentaries, both of which accompany the unrated edition. The first comes from director Pierre Morel, cinematographer Michel Abramowicz, and car stunt supervisor Michel Julienne. If you don’t speak French, this will be a text commentary for you; the disc provides subtitles for the track. The participants discuss cinematography and visual design, story, characters and pacing, locations and working in the US, cast and performances, stunts and action, effects, music, and a few other production topics.

We learn quite a lot about Taken here. The participants interact in a light and engaging manner as they dig into the movie. Plenty of interesting information comes to the fore in this useful chat.

For the second commentary, we hear from co-screenwriter Robert Mark Kamen. He offers a running, screen-specific chat that looks at his relationship with co-writer Luc Besson, the story’s origins and the development of the script, cast and crew, research, ratings issues, and a few other plot topics.

Kamen doesn’t often make this a truly “screen-specific” piece, as his notes usually veer from the action on screen. He does dig into a lot of interesting subjects, though, as he provides good insights into his work and the film. He certainly maintains a good level of energy in this enjoyable piece.

For an interactive feature, we go to the Black Ops Field Manual. This provides a combination of text commentary and statistics that relate to Bryan’s quest. The former tells us minor factoids about bits that crop up during the flick; these pop up sporadically and don’t really tell us a ton. As a text commentary, we don’t get much of value.

The other bits aren’t much more compelling either, but at least they’re more unusual. We find occasional “geographic locators”: a map appears on screen and shows us Bryan’s location. At the top of the screen, a bar keeps track of the distance Bryan travels throughout the film, how many people he injures and kills, and the time that remains for him to find Kim. All of these make the “Manual” mildly interesting at best.

Two featurettes follow. Le Making-of goes for 18 minutes, 23 seconds and includes notes from Morel and actors Liam Neeson and Maggie Grace. The program looks at story and characters, cast and performances, sets and locations, stunts and action,

We find a pretty standard promotional featurette. Along the way, some decent footage from the shoot appears, but interesting information fails to appear with much frequency. The show is perfectly watchable but also perfectly ordinary.

Avant Premiere runs four minutes, 48 seconds and features a few notes from Morel, Neeson and co-writer Luc Besson. Mostly we just see shots from the Paris premiere; it’s promotional and without much to make it interesting.

Next we find Inside Action. This allows you to observe six clips that provide raw footage from the shoot. We can compare the “fly on the wall” material with the same shots from the final film. All together, the six segments last a total of 11 minutes, five seconds, and they provide a cool perspective.

A few ads open the disc. We get clips for X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Digital Copy, Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li and 12 Rounds. In addition, the Trailers area provides a promo for Notorious. No trailer for Taken shows up here.

Finally, a second disc provides a Digital Copy of the film. This allows you to easily transfer the flick to your computer or portable viewing device. It doesn’t do anything for me, but your mileage may vary, as they say.

At no point does Taken reinvent the action flick wheel, and it often feels like a throwback to the super-violent movies of the 80s. However, it brings a little more humanity to the genre, largely due to an effective performance from Liam Neeson. The Blu-ray presents very good picture and audio along with a pretty engaging set of supplements; in particular, the pair of commentaries please. This is both an involving movie and a nice release.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4.2441 Stars Number of Votes: 86
4 3:
View Averages for all rated titles.

Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main