“This is important…they're going to take you.” These simple words set in motion the first true guilty pleasure film of 2009. After his 17 year-old daughter (Maggie Grace) is abducted while on vacation in Europe, Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) has only 96 hours to get her back. After that time his daughter will be lost to him forever. Bryan must use everything he has learned from years of government service to aide him as he delves deeper into the criminal underworld of Paris.
The movie sets the stage early to let you know that Neeson's character has spent his entire life doing this type of thing. So it does not come as a shock to see Bryan disposing of the various bad guys with his bear hands. While there is a lot of Luc Besson’s trademark action, the movie gears it more toward Neeson’s age. He does not drive cars off cliffs onto boats. Nor does jump off of highways onto trucks below in order to chases the criminal etcetera. Instead you actually see him get winded while running. Most off his fights are quick hand-to-hand combat, or shootouts. The villains actually fight at the level you would expect them to. The goons throw punches and/or reach for their guns. The people near the top of the food chain are more business minded, and do not engage Bryan physically at all. Most American films would have had St. Clair and/or the Sheik go toe to toe with Bryan (ala the main villain in Quantum of Solace). Also, due too his experience and age, Mills spend most of his time taking in the fine details of everything. He never goes barging into a situation without first figuring out a course of action. Obviously he doesn’t have time to plot out elaborate traps like MacGyver, but he does not go into situations guns blazing either. He is often forced to leave that way though. The dinner scene is a perfect example of this.
I liked that the film tried to keep everything somewhat realistic, or at least as realistic as you can get with this genre. While I may not let my 17 year-old daughter travel across Europe with a friend, there are those who would. The fact that young women from all over get abducted and forced into the sex trade makes the premise easier to buy into. I also liked the fact that there was no real main villain. Pretty much everyone remotely associated with the sex trade network was consider on the same level. While the movie will never be considered a cinematic treasure, it was far more entertaining than I thought it would be. It will definitely make my guilty pleasure list at the end of the year.
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