Directed By: Pierre Morel

Starring: Liam Neeson, Maggie Grace, Leland Orser, Jon Gries, David Warshofsky, Katie Cassidy, Holly Valance, and Famke Janssen

"I don't know who you are. I don't know what you want. If you are looking for ransom, I can tell you I don't have money. But what I do have are a very particular set of skills; skills I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you. If you let my daughter go now, that'll be the end of it. I will not look for you, I will not pursue you. But if you don't, I will look for you, I will find you, and I will kill you."
-Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson)

When did Liam Neeson become such a badass old dude?  It certainly wasn't as Oskar Schindler or Michael Collins.  Maybe it all began when he picked up a lightsaber as Jedi Knight Qui-Gon Jinn in The Phantom Menace or when he led the League of Shadows as Ra's Al Ghul in Batman Begins.  Regardless of when the transition in Neeson's career from serious dramatic actor to action star began, the world didn't realize it until 2008 when he became an ass-kicking retiree in Luc Besson's French action thriller Taken.

Former CIA operative Bryan Mills (Neeson) has given up his wild, bullet-filled lifestyle as a "preventer" to get closer to his daughter Kim (Maggie Grace).  She now lives with her mother Lenore (Famke Janssen) and her obscenely rich stepfather Stuart (Xander Berkeley).  Because she's wanted to be a singer since she was five years old, Bryan decides to buy her a karaoke machine for her 17th birthday, one that the pros supposedly use (like Beyonce and Mariah Carey).  He's easily outdone by Stuart, however, who buys Kim a pony and throws a lavish bash at his mansion.

Bryan isn't doing as well as he would like in building a relationship with Kim, and tells his buddies about it. While out doing some security work for pop sensation Sheerah (Holly Valance), he's surprised to get a call from Kim asking him to lunch the next day.  He eagerly accepts and is there waiting for her. Unfortunately, his ex-wife Lenny has come to lunch as well.  They ask him to sign some paperwork to let Kim go to Paris with her friend Amanda (Katie Cassidy) to visit museums and study art.  Because he knows the world and how dangerous it is, he refuses to sign it. 

Bryan eventually acquiesces and lets Kim go only to find out that she's following a rock band around Europe for the summer.  When the girls get to Paris, Amanda flirts with this French guy named Peter (Nicolas Giraud) and even takes a taxi with him back to their apartment.  Having given this guy way too much information, things soon go awry, and the girls are kidnapped by Bulgarian criminals specializing in human trafficking.  While the kidnapping is in progress, Kim calls the one man she knows can do something about it, her father.  Now, Bryan must rely on a particular set of skills he's built over a long career.  Bryan warns her that she will be taken.  He then warns the head of the Bulgarian crew that he will find him and kill him.

If you're an action lover, Taken is your movie.  In the last several years, this film has become the modern standard for old men kicking ass and taking names, and Liam Neeson used this film to really turn himself into a credible action star.  It's impossible not to love him as super spy and super dad Bryan Mills.  Neeson is smooth, hilarious and badass all at once.  Despite all the mediocrity around him in terms of acting and writing, Neeson's incredible performance turns a C-movie into an A-movie.  The fact that the aging Neeson is genuinely an imposing figure in Taken is quite impressive.  Keep in mind that Neeson was in his late 50s when he made this film. 

Taken is smartly and efficiently directed by Pierre Morel.  He doesn't waste any time on superfluous plot details.  He gets straight down to the business of unleashing Liam Neeson on Paris.  With impressive action sequences that include a surprising number of throat chops and a nonstop relentless pace, Morel creates a taut thriller.  While writers Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen don't give us the world's greatest plot, I have to give them some credit for some one-liners that are funny as hell.  They gave Neeson the tools to really do some great trash talking.  When you have Neeson delivering lines like "Your arrogance offends me. And for that the rate just went up 10%", you've done something right.  In fact, you've struck cinematic gold.

Taken has to be Liam Neeson's signature action film.  Regardless of this talented actor's countless other roles on the big screen over the last several decades, his performance as Bryan Mills solidified him as an action star and reminded the world why he is so great.  In the hands of a lesser actor, Taken would not be the cult film it is today, and Liam Neeson might be doing other things with his career.  Taken would have been just another action flick with an utterly predictable plot and mediocre performances from its cast.  As it stands, the film is simply awesome because of Neeson.  Taken gets a 0.03% rating.  Have a few wine coolers with this one.  If you can't enjoy this great action movie, there's something wrong with you.