Taken for a ride with spoiled teenagers

Apparently there are only so many plots to be found in the film industry, and that’s why they keep getting recycled in different packaging.

Apparently there are only so many plots to be found in the film industry, and that’s why they keep getting recycled in different packaging.

Of course, recycling is a good thing, but not for movies. Taken is based on a stock plot scenario: a retired or current spy has a wife, girlfriend or teenage daughter who is kidnapped. He has to find her, or ransom her or whatever the film demands at the time. 
This has been done in True Lies, Spy Game, Human Trafficking and now, Taken.

True to plot, Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) used to be a spy for our government, but has taken early retirement in order to spend time with his daughter, Kim, who at 17, is for some reason needing daddy around.

His ex-wife Lenore (Famke Janssen) is a manipulative bitch who seems to have divorced Bryan because he wouldn’t follow her rules. She has since remarried. Lenore and her new husband have spoiled Kim so much that the girl knows nothing about how the real world works.

Just after Kim’s birthday, she asks her father for his permission to go to Paris for a month with her best friend, Amanda. Dad says no. Daughter throws a hissy fit. Dad gives in on the condition that she calls him regularly while she’s gone and gives him the numbers where she’ll be.

Of course, she does none of this.

While waiting at the airport in France, Kim is approached by a boy named Peter to whom she promptly spills all her information, including the fact that she and Amanda are alone in Paris for the summer. She basically tells him everything he needs to know to kidnap them.

When Mills (Neeson) does finally get his daughter on the phone, they argue only long enough for Kim to realize that someone has broken into her house and is in the process of kidnapping Amanda. Mills tells her how to get information for him so that he’ll be able to find her after she’s taken. Then he’s off to Paris, picking up the pieces of her trail.

A good thing about the film is that the violence is appropriate in instances such as Mills’ willingness to shoot women in order to get information, or to torture people who aren’t cooperating. These are things that someone would actually do while searching for their daughter, even though Hollywood has largely dismissed this reality.

It is also refreshing to see that someone has actually come out and shown what happens when parents spoil and shelter their children to such an extent. Since this is something that is currently occurring at an alarming rate, it’s great to see someone giving today’s parents a reality check.

It was amazing to learn that these girls’ parents haven’t taught them any sense. Throughout the film we see girls from America, Italy and Sweden all giving up their safety for the possibility of partying in Paris. What were their parents thinking?

Not to mention Taken has some plot gaps that need filling. How does Neeson get out of France when the French government is trying to arrest him for killing a couple dozen people? How do they immediately know the kidnappers’ names from only a short recording of their voices? Why do the kidnappers fall for his ploy to get information out of them? And what happens to the girl he rescues?

Maybe it’s not important in the grand scheme of things but it does leave you hanging.

This film is not well planned. There is even a strange bit of extra plot were the girls are not actually going to stay in Paris but will follow U2 on their tour around Europe. U2? Really? This gives the parents something to argue about but doesn’t advance the story one iota.

Add an unrealistic ending and some schizophrenic camera work, and the movie falls on its face.