Taken

I just caught this surprisingly effective kidnap thriller starring Liam Neeson and written and produced by Luc Besson.

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The plot is pedestrian enough: a former CIA agent’s daughter is kidnapped in Paris by Albanian slave traders, and if he cannot find her in 96 hours, he’ll never see her again. What sets this apart, though, are the taut Bourne-style action sequences – all visceral hand-to-hand combat and genuinely tense shootouts – and Pierre Morel’s unpatronising approach to direction. The Albanian, Arabic and French language sequences are unsubtitled because you can guess what’s being said, and though there are a few too many coincidences, the pace never lets up long enough for you to notice them.

It’s earned almost 10 times its $25m budget, and deservedly so: finding a sleek, genuinely gripping thriller that neither wimps out nor goes over the top is a refreshing discovery. It’s not going to give Bourne or Bond any cause for concern, but is satisfying entertainment to fans of Spooks or 24.

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