A short movie review: Taken (2008)

I just watched Taken last night, and there's pretty much only one thing for me to say: this is my type of serious action movie.

Here's my explanation: everyone I've talked to about my movie preferences knows I enjoy comical, sarcastic action movies--Last Action Hero, Kill Bill, Planet Terror, some James Bond movies--but I get easily bored with thrillers that take themselves too seriously--The Bourne Trilogy, Spiderman, The Matrix. Action movies that I like, but which don't make me laugh, are few and far between. So few and far between, in fact, that I am hard-pressed to think of one at the present moment. Transformers? It has its high points, but I rolled my eyes too many times. Transformers: The Movie? Yes, but it's a cartoon; I'm not sure if that counts. Gladiator? It's more drama than action. But apparently I'm heading in the right direction: 300. That was a sick movie, and perhaps the last movie to give Taken a run for its money. I'm sure I'll think of another one some time, but the fact is that right now I can think of only one movie from the last ten year that is on the level of Taken.

If you want to see someone kick ass and take names without all of the cliché hubris that directors usually pin on their demi-superheroes, see Taken. Liam Neeson is no X-man, but that point might have been lost on the guys who kidapped his daughter.

In other news, I read my first review of Terminator Salvation today, and it's very good. The review, that is. The movie, not so much, apparently. In the review, Mick LaSalle at the San Francisco Chronicle succinctly sums up my own opinions of the recent histories of lead actor Christian Bale (Patrick Bateman!) and director McG (Fastlane!). He also confirms my fears of what bad things can happen when the two of them team up for a big-budget Hollywood action-drama. It's too bad too of my favorite film people are doomed as soon as they set foot on the same set as one another, but that's the way it is. Maybe it's time to move on to smaller and better things, gentlemen... smaller and better things...


RM said...

I just don't get how you liked 300 so much - it was visually an astonishing film but the rest of it was pretty bland. Just like Sin City. I loved watching it, but it wasn't a very good movie.

But people I talked to that saw Taken have said what you said pretty much. I don't think I can get into it, I just don't care enough about the story.

I love the Bourne series but by the end it was like hey, this is the same thing. Matrix the original was great, and it opened the door for other movies over the last 10 years. The others sucked but you had to see them to bring it full circle.

Gladiator is amazing and sometimes I tear up. Something about the Hans Zimmer sndtrk, Elysian Fields, etc.

Spiderman is not an action film, it's a summer blockbuster and there's too much crying.

fbg said...

I liked 300 for the same reason I liked Taken--no bullshit--and for the way the film was composed. Neither of these films seemed pretentious to me, the way The Lord of the Rings does, for example.

Perhaps I am a sucker for movies where people go to great lengths for a single reason, e.g. protecting a town or saving a daughter. That might be my "guilty pleasure", but even though there are tons of movies in which that occurs, there are very few in which the director makes me want to take the place of the hero and join in the cause. Most of the time I just want to smack the director and tell him he's not directing Die Hard, and it's not 1988. Give me something original, and knock the sugarcoating off of it.

fbg said...

Oh, I forgot to say:

The Matrix and the Bourne each have a few good scenes, and use a new technology or technique. Otherwise, they're boring. In my opinion, those movies feel like they're trying too hard, like one of those anime fighting shows where every second shot is someone flying through the air in a cool pose. Save it for a new version of Voltron, which Michael Bay or someone is sure to make, right after the X-men director gets signed on for Thundercats: Return to Thundera, Again.