Making the Grades
Here’s a movie that will help any overly possessive father feel vindicated about their desire to know what their daughter is up to at any given moment. When 17-year-old Kim (Maggie Grace) reveals to her estranged father Bryan (Liam Neeson) that she wants to travel to Paris with her 19-year-old friend Amanda (Katie Cassidy), Dad’s reaction is anything but encouraging. Part of the problem is he’s a retired CIA agent and consequently well aware of the risks two blithe young girls may face in a foreign country.
Sadly, his fears are proven correct just minutes after the duo lands and meet the handsome Peter (Nicolas Giraud) who talks them into sharing a taxi. What they don’t know is their newfound friend works for a criminal network. Shortly after they are dropped off at the apartment where they are planning to stay, a gang barges in and abducts both teens. On the phone to her father when the attackers arrive, Kim’s final screams, along with an abductor’s threatening words, provide the only clues Bryan has to find his daughter. Hopping a jet to France, he immediately sets out to rescue his girl, regardless of who or what may stand in his way.
Of all movie protagonists, the determined parent is likely the most virulent and is the perfect weapon for a scriptwriter looking to put maximum damage on the screen with ironclad justification. A deadly force of one, Bryan is able to kill with his hands, and is even more effective when holding a gun or administering torture techniques—in this case electrocution. Following a trail that begins with Peter and eventually leads to corrupt French police, nasty Albanians and wealthy Arabs, Bryan mows down a plethora of assailants and breaks dozens of laws. While blood effects are minimized, violent altercations are frequent and the body count mounts in nearly every scene.
Other topics parents will face is the sex trade and portrayal of young women who have been lured or forced into a drug dependency to keep them in a semi-conscious state so their services may be sold to willing customers. This film doesn’t include overt nudity or sexual activity, but scenes do depict young women in minimal dress, some of whom are seen with men. Discussions surrounding these issues are included, along with some moderate and mild profanities.
If you can put the troubling theme aside, and approach this as an action movie, you’ll see a lot of Jason Bourne in Liam Neeson’s character. Unstoppable, he is able to demonstrate skills that range from high-speed driving against the flow of a one-way street to nursing a drug overdosed patient back to life with a selection of medications. This guy doesn’t leave us thinking for a moment that he won’t reach his goal and provide us with the foregone conclusion. He’s not quite James Bond, but he will certainly never be taken or stirred.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Taken.
This movie contains characters of various ethnicities. What roles do the French play? The Albanians? The Arabs? How do these compare to the American characters?
What techniques do the screenwriters use to justify Bryan’s violence? Why can he not turn to the police for help? How is the perceived time constraint (he is told he probably only has 96 hours to find his daughter) used to motivate his actions?