Was he Secret Service? Was he FBI? Was he CIA? To be honest, I can't really remember, but he could snap your clavicle before you could say, "is that accent Irish or Scottish?" Liam Neeson plays Bryan Mills, a highly skilled, but now retired, "Preventer" as he refers to himself, in the fun-tastic action revenge flick Taken, recently released on Blu-Ray. Okay so it's a fairly well-worn plot: the good guy retires from his dangerous, highly skilled job, wants to spend more time with his daughter, strained relationship with the bitter and snotty ex-wife (Famke Janssen) who has a rich husband that spoils the daughter with gifts that Mills cannot ever hope to afford -- daughter gets into big life-or-death trouble, and it's daddy to the rescue.
Well worn indeed, but in this case it feels more like that fleece wrap that's been sitting on your couch for a couple years, the one that keeps getting softer every time you wash it. And it's not Jean-Claude Van damme, Steven Seagal or Chuck Norris this time, it's a real actor, Liam Neeson for crap's sake. And he's good, Neeson's Mills is a deeply sympathetic character who really loves his daughter and can't quite connect with her, and it's just that vulnerability that makes us stay with this guy and want to see him succeed.
Mills' daughter Kim is 17 and she wants to go to Europe for a long trip with a 19-year-old girlfriend. Her clueless mother, Lenore, thinks it's a great idea but Bryan has reservations. He knows the girls will only get into trouble, but he reluctantly signs the permission slip she needs to leave the country without her parents. Well, sure as shinola, soon as they get to France they get spotted by some Albanian scumbags who kidnap women to sell into slavery...not like working in a field, like SEX slaves, okay. So they nab the girls, but not before Kim is able to make a phone call to her pop, and describe her attackers in as much detail as she can. Now the only hope Kim has is her father -- and you better believe he's going to find her, and fill a lot of body bags in the process.
Taken is a good old-fashioned bad-guys-getting-their-butts-handed-to-them kinda flick. Neeson even resorts to torture, but it's the good kind of torture where a guilty murderous dirtbag gets painfully electrocuted, none of this pouring water over his face crap, this is the real deal, baby! And it's effective. Very effective.
The Blu-Ray's sharpness and sound quality adds an extra dimension to the glorious brutality, from the snapping ligaments and tortured moans of the villains, to the mouth-watering Parisian street scenes, this is definitely the way to watch it. I watched the unrated version, which I generally prefer, the theatrical version is also included on this disc. There's the usual Dolby Digital and DTS Sound -- English, Spanish, and French subtitles -- audio commentary -- and there's also a digital copy for your Mac or PC. I popped in the extra DVD and opened up iTunes, it asks for the code on the back of the insert, you type it in and, voila, the digital copy downloads right to your computer. It only takes up 1.23 GB and the quality is quite good, and you can pop that onto your Ipod if you want. So, nice job on this release from 20th Century Fox. Well done.