Taken (2008)


I Told You So!: The Movie

After the last three movies, I didn’t feel like I needed to clean my brain with a good movie, or a meaningful movie.  I needed to clean my brain with an awesome movie.  I had originally seen today’s movie in the theaters, knowing nothing about it and expecting nothing out of it.  Later, when it came out on DVD, I bought that shit post haste.  I’ve seen it a few times since then, but I have not reviewed it yet.  And I had a hankering for this movie for a little while now so I figured now was the best time to sate my need for it, and knock a review out while I’m at it.  This movie is Taken, written by Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen, directed by Pierre Morel, and starring Liam Neeson, Maggie Grace, Famke Janssen, Xander Berkeley, Nicolas Giraud, Arben Bajraktaraj, Gerard Watkins, Olivier Rabourdin, Leland Orser, Jon Gries, David Warshofsky, Katie Cassidy, and Holly Valance.

Retired CIA agent Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) is trying to build a better relationship with his daughter, Kim (Maggie Grace), but it’s made into an uphill battle by her bitch ass mom, Lenore (Famke Janssen), and her rich, one-upping stepfather Stuart (Xander Berkeley).  Knowing that Kim wants to be a singer, he gets her a karaoke machine for her birthday, and tries to get her in with pop singer Sheerah (Holly Valance) while on a job with his former colleague Sam (Leland Orser), but she shuts him down.  Well, she does until Bryan saves her life with extreme prejudice from a knife-wielding assailant.  She responds by offering to pay for a singing coach for Kim and get her in touch with an agent.  Bryan goes to lunch to present Kim with this good news, but Kim and Lenore confront Bryan with Kim’s desire to go to Paris with her friend, Amanda (Katie Cassidy), to look at some museums.  Bryan’s hesitant, knowing what kinds of dangers face young girls on their own overseas, but they lay the guilt trip on him so thick that he relents and allows her to go, as long as she keeps him up to speed with what’s happening.  When she gets to France, she meets a nice boy named Peter (Nicolas Giraud) who invites her and Amanda to a party, but changes his mind and tells the Albanian Mafia to come and abduct them and turn them into prostitutes.  Kim watches it go down from a window while talking to her dad, and he leads her through the situation, but tells her she will be taken.  But Bryan has a particular set of skills that means a lot of people are going to get injured until he finds his daughter.

This movie is the tits.  The big fat floppy tits!  This movie might not be the smartest movie I’ve ever watched, but it would arguably be one of the most awesome.  The story of the movie is nothing special, but it’s still very satisfying.  The story is a pretty simple situation of someone being abducted and someone going to rescue her, with a little bit of the classic coming out of retirement story in there.  I found some of the dialogue in the movie blunt and unimpressive, like the scene at the barbecue and the scene where Bryan is playing poker with his former colleagues.  These scenes are very obvious exposition scenes, with them saying things along the lines of, “Remember that time when we were in the CIA and you were really good and I’d hate to be someone that kidnapped your daughter.  Remember that, buddy?”  Exposition can be painful to listen to, especially when it’s largely unnecessary because it happens right before the scene of Bryan laying a cold ass-whooping on the guy with the knife that tries to Selena that Sheerah lady.  That’s all I needed to decide this guy was a badass with skills.  That AND the fact that he wraps presents like a champ.  And I felt the biggest piece of dialogue was never used in the movie.  After Lenore had been such a dirty bitch to Bryan the whole movie and acted like he was being an asshole for thinking it was too dangerous for Kim to go to Paris without him, Bryan completely neglected to lay a nice, thick “I told you so” onto the lot of them when he was totally right about the whole thing.  Granted, he would’ve just been an asshole if she had gone and nothing had happened, but he was right, and I would’ve punched her bitch ass vagina clean off!  I feel the same way about the part where Kim is under the bed and he tells her she’s going to be taken.  At first, the bad guys seemed completely unaware that she was there.  I figured that she’d be pretty pissed if they left without her and he had seemed so quickly resigned to the fact that she’d be taken.  It would’ve been a fairly lackluster movie if that had happened though.  If you want some examples of good dialogue, it immediately follows that, when Bryan talks to the kidnapper Marco on the phone.  That speech goes down as one of the most badass speeches ever as Bryan tells Marco basically, “I’m a badass, you don’t want to fuck with me, and I’ll show you why if you don’t let her go.  …But don’t let her go, because the movie would be really short and not awesome if you don’t make me show off my badassness.”   At that point, we had already learned enough to think, “You don’t know what you’re getting yourself into!”  The speech he gives when he does find Marco is pretty good as well.

There was really nothing left to be desired from the action in this movie.  I found it all very satisfying.  They had great gun fights, hardcore hand-to-hand combat, and even some cool car chases.  I’ve always liked the form of fighting that they use in this movie.  It reminds me of the Bourne movies.  I’m not sure if it’s technically Krav Maga, but it looked like it.  It’s just a no nonsense, no frills type of fighting that makes your opponent unable to be in your way anymore.  It comes down to a lot of neck/back breaking and throat punching, and all of it’s good times for me.  ::SPOILER ALERT::  At the end of the movie, he has to fight this skinny, douchey-looking guard to a sheik.  It bummed me out because he was able to hold his own against Bryan who had, up to this point, not met anyone he couldn’t destroy in a couple of moves.  Though I didn’t like seeing my man challenged by this guy, it made sense for him to have a challenging fight at the end of the movie, and the ass-whipping he laid upon him was very satisfying.  I was also surprised at how his daughter reacted to him shooting the sheik because she seemed shocked by it, whereas I would’ve yelled, “Dad!  You is the fuckin’ tits!”  And, at the very end of the movie, I was surprised to see Lenore thanking Bryan for saving their daughter.  With how much of a bitch she was through the rest of the movie, I would’ve figured she’d say, “Oh what?  You could only save ONE of them?  This is so typical, Bryan!”  I know the last two don’t really fit with the action paragraph, but I wanted to keep my spoilers together.  ::END SPOILERS::   The car chases were pretty standard stuff, and car chases have never really held a lot of interest for me.  What I did like from the first one was how the car ran full speed into a bulldozer’s blade, cutting halfway into the top of the car like it was butter.

All of the performances in this movie really worked as well.  There wasn’t a point in the movie where Liam Neeson really had to get emotional, but that actually works as a good thing for this movie.  We already know he can act; he doesn’t need to show off.  But having his emotions so under control under circumstances where most people would be freaking out makes him that much more of a badass.  My favorite bit of badassness was when he shot a guy’s wife out of nowhere.  LIKE A BOSS!  You’ll know it when you see it, but it was so stone cold badass that I would’ve offered my anal virginity to the guy as a sacrifice.  Maggie Grace had to do a lot of damsel in distress work in the movie.  I couldn’t decide if her character was believable or not because 17-year-old girls only like U2 because they want to seem smart and they haven’t found better music yet.  And people that like U2 don’t also like pop stars like this Sheerah.  I definitely hate-fucked the shit out of Famke Janssen’s character in this movie, but that was what she was going for.  I know some divorced people are like that, but you bitches can at least act like you’re being civil in front of your kid at her birthday party.  And yes, I blame her completely.  I thought Arben Bajraktaraj was cool as the short-lived character Marko, but mainly just because I was really convinced by him as he was being tortured.  In no small part due to the veins in his neck looking like they were going to explode.  And I thought Leland Orser was cool, but mainly because every time I see him I think of him either crying because he fucked a girl to death with a sword dildo in Seven, or crying because there was an alien in him in Alien: Resurrection.

Taken is one of the best movies to just shut your brain off and enjoy.  It’s not a dumb movie, per se, but the story is pretty basic and the dialogue is either nothing special or wicked awesome.  Liam Neeson and the action scenes make this movie a fantastic action flick.  This movie is total fun times that should be enjoyed by anyone.  And you should go and enjoy it right now.  I have it on DVD, I SHOULD have it on BluRay, and you should have it in some form or another.  Taken gets “I have a particular set of skills” out of “Now’s not the time for dick measuring, Stuart!”

Let’s get these reviews more attention, people.  Post reviews on your webpages, tell your friends, do some of them crazy Pinterest nonsense.  Whatever you can do to help my reviews get more attention would be greatly appreciated.  You can also add me on FaceBook (Robert T. Bicket) and Twitter (iSizzle).  Don’t forget to leave me some comments.  Your opinions and constructive criticisms are always appreciated.

Apollo 13 (1995)


Houston, We’ve Had a Problem

I feel that not having seen a movie as classic as Citizen Kane until recently was excusable because I was nowhere near alive when it came out.  But for me to have not seen a classic movie such as today’s movie when it came out when I was 12 is a problem.  PROBLEM SOLVED!  I’ve now watched this movie.  I and the entire world had heard about this movie and the event it was based on for quite some time, AND it stars at least 2 people that could be in my list of top actors (as well as many others I like a lot), AND it was also directed by a great director, yet I hadn’t seen it.  I had not seen this movie until now because … uh … well okay, I have no idea why I didn’t see it.  I guess I just took my time.  And so, just over 16 years late, I present to you my review of Apollo 13, written by William Broyles and Al Reinert, directed by Ron Howard, and starring Tom Hanks, Bill Paxton, Kevin Bacon, Ed Harris, Gary Sinise, Kathleen Quinlan, Clint Howard, David Andrews, Xander Berkeley, Miko Hughes, Mary Kate Schellhardt, Max Elliot Slade, and Emily Ann Lloyd.

Astronaut Jim Lovell (Tom Hanks) is giving a tour of NASA’s Vehicle Assembly Building when he gets informed that he and his crew – Fred Haise (Bill Paxton) and Ken Mattingly (Gary Sinise) – are getting their mission to the moon pushed up from Apollo 14 to Apollo 13.  Having just recently watched Neil Armstrong walk on the moon during the Apollo 11, Lovell says he wants to get him some of that action.  During training, it is determined that Mattingly is unable to go because he was exposed to measles and may get sick mid-mission, so he is replaced by Jack Swigert (Kevin Bacon).  They get all launched up and that’s when shit hits the fan … continuously for the next hour and a half.

Most people were probably well aware of this before I was, but this is a damned good film.  The story seems like one that would be hard to get wrong when you base your movie around a real life event that captured the attention of the world so thoroughly as it did, but they did not get it wrong.  They got it so right that it kind of bummed me out that I wasn’t alive to witness the world around this time, and even more so around the Apollo 11 time.  Instead, I got to grow up in the time where NASA says we’re not going to the moon anymore and, by the way, we’re gonna shit all over Pluto’s face and call it a bitch planet.  I don’t even know who you are anymore, NASA.  In fact, I’m not even going to capitalize your name anymore.  Anyways, this movie definitely tells nasa’s story with gusto.  It starts out perhaps a little slow, but once you get up into space, it really doesn’t waste very much time before it starts shoveling tension on to you, and it doesn’t really let you unclinch your anus until the last minute or so.  I also found it pretty amazing that this movie was able to turn something as boring as watching people do math and flick switches into something so riveting and engrossing.

You know what takes that there great story and elevates it so much?  PERFORMANCES!!  Tom Hanks, as it turns out, is Tom Hanks!  This dude is the best.  He always has the most real and emotional and charming portrayals of characters in the movies he’s in that you can’t help but love him and feel for him.  In this one, he really doesn’t overdo it and freak out as most of us would in his position.  I would lose my shit, at least that’s what nasa said when I tested to be an astronaut.  (Psst.  I cried and peed myself while filling out the application)  He was the glue of the team and, probably, the movie.  I love Ed Harris a lot too.  He had to keep his shit together and get everyone around him on task following these tragedies and didn’t allow himself to lose it until those astronauts were safe, finally breaking down into tears.  Paxton and Bacon were very good supporting characters on the mission, but they both let the events get to them and they freaked out a little, but Hanks put the kibosh on that nonsense.  I get the feeling that Hanks might not like Gary Sinise very much though.  Assuming (as I do) that he has control over the movies he’s in, he fucks with Sinise every time he’s in a movie with him.  What do you want to do to Gary in Forrest Gump?  Cut them legs off, and make him a drunken whore-monger while you’re at it.  What about Apollo 13?  It wouldn’t work to take his legs off.  Uh…give him the measles and make it so he can’t come into space.  Then tell him later he didn’t actually have measles.  Fuck you, Gary!  But Gary did bring it pretty well to the movie.  He was noticeably bummed out about not getting to be on the mission, but didn’t throw the whole “I was on Earth while you guys were counting the minutes to your deaths” back in their faces.  Instead, he kind of saved the day from the ground.  Hanks should really give this guy another chance.

The only thing I find more regrettable than not being alive when Apollo 13 and Apollo 11 actually went down was the fact that it took me so long to watch the awesome movie about it!  Apollo 13 is what happens when you take a real life event, retell it in an awesome, tension-filled way with a great director, and perform it superbly with actors who are supremely awesome.  There was not a part of this movie I did not like.  It’s available via Netflix streaming, so you too have no excuse to not be watching this movie right now save for the overwhelming compelling nonsense streaming from my fingers right now.  I will be purchasing this movie for my collection post haste, so you should in the very least be watching it streaming.  Apollo 13 gets “So long, Earth.  Catch you on the flip side” out of “Pluto, you’re still a planet to me.”

Hey, peeps. Why not rate and comment on this as a favor to good ole Robert, eh? And tell your friends! Let’s make me famous!