Taken

2009

Parents, are your children not doing what they say? Show them “Taken.” Perhaps they’ll straighten right up.

Teenaged Kim (Maggie Grace, late of TV’s “Lost”) ignores the initial wishes of her dad (Liam Neeson) by going on a trip to France with a friend. He thinks it’s dangerous for a girl her age; she doesn’t care. Father knows best, however, because no sooner has Kim landed in gay Paree than she and her pal are kidnapped and drugged by sex-slave traffickers.

Luckily for Kim, her dad hears the abduction over the cell phone. Extra-luckily for Kim, he’s also a former spy. But retirement’s not treating him so well, so he has no problem hopping a jet, hunting her captors down and kicking some ass “” and hopefully before her virginity is “Taken.”

Although marred by a cheesy ending, this intense film proved an unlikely surprise smash at the spring box office “” well, perhaps a surprise to those who haven’t been following writer/producer Luc Besson’s string of rock-’em-sock-’em actioners in recent years. Under his tutelage, other directors have turned out some solid thrillers including “Unleashed,” “Kiss of the Dragon” and the “Transporter” franchise. Here, “District 13″ helmer Pierre Morel returns for another slick, well-crafted effort.

Turns out all Besson and company needed was a big star, and Neeson gets one of the most exciting roles of his career. Even considering his Jedi credentials, I never expected to see him busting out kung-fu moves, which is exactly why “Taken” has so much kick to it. —”Rod Lott

Rod Lott

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