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This week:

Filthy says:
"Just fucking dreadful."

Finally, a mindless vigilante movie starring Liam Neeson with a rod so far up his ass you can see it every time he opens his mouth. The world had been waiting, oh, four seconds for that about twenty years ago. And then we all moved on. Except Neeson and Pierre Morels. What collective of minds is so God damn retarded it thinks the world wants to see a stuffy, pasty old English guy shooting shit up like Charles Bronson on the day the bank came to repossess his mustache?

Taken is pure and simple the movie equivalent of a retarded kid in a wheelchair with soiled underwear. It's not a stupid pleasure like huffing metallic paint from a paper bag. It's not even a guilty pleasure, like videos of chimpanzees punching each other in the nuts. Taken is a shitstream of preposterous action sequences linked by an absurd plot and a total lack of concern for anything except piling up bodies. Fuck, it's stupid. If I want mindless action, and sometimes I do, I sure as hell don't want pasty-faced hard-on Neeson doing it under the sham disguise that this is somehow more artsy or relevant.

Neeson plays a retired American spy who is freakily obsessed with the teenage daughter he was always away from during his working years. He obsesses with the aforementioned rod up his ass, his teeth clenched, and his Irish brogue disguised about as well as a drag queen with his dick sticking out. Beyond establishing his creepy overbearing relationship with his daughter, the movie tells us he's a regular joe with pals who come over to barbecue steaks and talk about guy stuff. Neeson joins in taciturnly, through clenched teeth and eyes that suggest he hasn't slept or cracked a joke since that hilarious scene in Schindler's List where he keeps slipping on all the blood.

After a silly sequence where Neeson saves a pop star's life and forever indebts her, he learns his seventeen-year-old daughter (played by 26-year-old Maggie Grace)--who wants very much to be a singer--is going to France for the summer. In exchange for letting her go, Neeson makes Grace promise to call him about every fifteen minutes or so, presumably to tell him what color underwear she has on.

Shortly after landing in France, and a few gratuitous shots of the Eiffel Tower, Grace is kidnapped by Albanian sex slave traders. She is on the phone to Neeson when the kidnapers come to take her away and gives him a grab bag of details to work with. That's more than enough.

Using his old CIA gear, Neeson records the call and has his friends process it to tell him who the bad guys are. He then hops a plane, lands in Paris, and goes on a serial killing spree with virtually no interference from authorities. Every move Neeson makes in this movie is correct. There are almost no reversals and fewer surprises. In a town were he doesn't speak the language and is not a native, he always knows exactly where to go and where the bad guys hide. Every bad guy is obviously dumber and less prepared than him, has no character whatsoever, and is easily killed. It's not just bad guys, though. The innocent get shot and beat up, too. I have no idea why. I'm not sure if the director Pierre Morel (he's a Frog), or the writers Luc ("I'm-trying-to-be-Joe-Eszterhaus-as-fast-as-I-can") Besson and Robert Mark Kamen (Hey, he wrote the near direct-to-video Transporter 3!) have that little regard for human life, that little concern for the audience's connection to the characters, or intended to say something but failed miserably. All I got out of it is that they must think good entertainment includes us rooting for a guy who only knows how to kill people to resolve problems.

Amoral protagonists are fine, when they're interesting. Neeson isn't. He plays a fucking asshole, prick and charisma-free tightass. Taken expects us to root for him. The movie has no commentary, or point to make. It wants us to want Neeson to get his daughter back, and for us to believe that nothing should stop him. It wants us to think his obsession is sweet, not creepy and dangerous. It thinks we'll be impressed by his cleverness, but there is little of it on display. His best solution to any problem is to kill someone.

Plus, Neeson's way too old to play this character. The guy's as old as Methuselah's shit, and should be at home sitting in one of those chairs that helps you stand up, not pretending he can swing his dick around like a 20-year-old. He looks like a jackass pretending he's Jason Bourne or James Bond, except more blurry since the action is shot all choppy and blurred to hide how slow he really is.

There's a mild plot-twist featuring a former French spy, but that's as much as resistance as he gets. I don't understand why the guy can plow through cars in town, steal shit and shoot people up without at least drawing a tiny bit of attention from the cops. Nobody ever says why all of Frenchies stand idly by while he goes berserk. Maybe it takes place during one of their month-long national holidays. Neeson also gets to the bottom of a complex Albanian white-prostitution ring in a matter of days when nobody else can seem to crack it in years. He deduces where they hang out just by asking when nobody else can. In one scene, I believe he kills a half-dozen or so without even getting winged. That's one fucking tough fifty-seven-year-old. When I'm that age, I just hope I can make it through the night without having to get up to pee.

Neeson is never in danger and there is no tension because he is always smarter and better prepared. He has to fight and shoot a lot, but in a formulaic shoot-'em-up way. In one scene, after rescuing a drugged-up teen, he magically has all the medication (and time) to help her detox. In many scenes he somehow gets from one secret locale to another without any explanation of how. His friends in the US can identify a person by name just from two words heard on a cell phone. He infiltrates a snooty party where virgins are auctioned off to the highest bidders in a scene that I'm sure is meant to feel creepy but actually feels more like a laughable outtake from Eyes Wide Shut.

Ultimately, Neeson gets on board a yacht owned by a fat sheik. He looks like Zero Mostel with a tan. After a dozen or so more dead bodies and Neeson getting and losing a limp, he shoots the fat sheik, gets his daughter back and, through massive bloodshed, proves he loves her after all. I guess devotion is measured in pints. The daughter's friend dies, but nobody mourns. There's no time for that because Neeson has arranged for the pop star he saved earlier to surprise the just-rescued daughter with singing lessons.

The moviemakers' glee in Taken is not in the plot, not in the acting, not in having anything at all to say. They don't give a seastar's tit about any of that. Their pride is showing how many people can die and how much action there is. That's really fucking sad since the action is often, vague, poorly lit to mask how old and frail Neeson is, and mostly not nearly as clever as Morel, Besson and Karmen think it is. It's pure fucking garbage: too lame to be mindless action, and too mindless to have anything to say. It's a fucking embarrassment. One Finger.

Want to tell Filthy Something?



Pete Hammond of Hollywood.com

Taken is "The best action movie since The Bourne Ultimatum!"

Coraline is "A visual stunne that takes animated films to thrilling new heights! Henry Selick has created a modern classic and tops even his brilliant Nightmare Before Christmas!"

Filthy's Reading
Paul Bibeau - Sundays with Vlad

Listening to
Die Kruzen - October File


Young Indiana Jones