Having subjected the boyf to half the Harry Potter DVD box set since the Olympics finished (so far), I thought it was about time he got to choose the movie. He took the opportunity to right what he saw as a serious wrong in my film education – I’d never seen Taken. I was also getting pretty fed up with everyone I told I’d never seen it going “Ohmygodwhaaat?” And, with Taken 2 out in a couple of weeks, I figured it was time to catch up!
All I knew about it was that 1) Liam Neeson is in it and 2) Liam Neeson is awesome. (Come on, he’s Aslan!) A quick straw poll of my mates told me it was also “the ultimate lad film”. So I was kind of expecting the usual “lad film” stuff: guns, girls, great big explosions, and not much substance (we all know lads are easily pleased creatures). However, it had much more of a story than I was expecting. I was pleasantly surprised.
I heard an interview Liam on Radio 1 this week, and he said Taken wasn’t even going to be released in the UK originally. It came out in France and Asia, but was genuinely going to go straight to DVD here. But once out abroad, it started to build a bit of a cult following through people finding it online. And bam! Now, everybody loves Taken.
Including me! I’ve got to admit, I probably got different things out of it than my boyfriend. He admired his CIA-trained logic; me his sensible parenting skills. No daughter of mine will ever be following a rock bank around Europe at 17.
I just figured it would be a rich-girl-kidnapped-to-rinse-rich-stepdad story. I didn’t know it was really about sex trafficking, an important and difficult issue, that doesn’t often feature in mainstream films. But learning what can actually happen to some girls, how they’re spotted, how easy it can be to slip out of the normal world and across that boundary… it was certainly eye opening. Particularly as a girl who’s travelled abroad – I’m pretty shrewd, but I can completely see why my parents weren’t keen on me going alone.
It’s short but succinct. Originally I felt the ending was a bit of a let down; dad and daughter are just both kind of suddenly… there. But thinking about it, that was actually what I liked about the film. It’s not the standard, big budget, boom-laden ending that Hollywood’s “lad film” formula has taught us to expect. It’s smaller, quieter and grittier. It’s an engrossing story, with realistic characters (though the amount of time the daughter spends running at her parents makes her seem a lot younger than 17) that isn’t dragged out through car chases and overchoreographed fight scenes. Hope the sequel isn’t crap. If the daughter gets kidnapped again it could just feel a bit Hangover 2.
It’s a different kind of lad film: one with substance. Or maybe I should just give my lad mates a bit more credit!