With the recession taking a grip on our nation’s economy, many families are seeking cost-effective ways to have fun together. For various families, watching a movie at home is one of the primary ways in which they can do just that. Though there are many films to choose from that are coming out on DVD this summer, if you are looking for a movie with a plotline certain to satisfy the palate of a conservative look no further than the 2009 film Taken. Starring Liam Neeson and Maggie Grace, and produced by Frenchman Luc Besson, Taken proves that France exports more than just cheese, wine, and liberalism.
The film begins in the United States, where it introduces former CIA agent Bryan Mills (Neeson) who retired in order to spend more time with his daughter. His daughter, Kim (Grace), lives with her mother, who divorced Mills and is now married to a wealthy businessman. Though Mills’ relationships with his daughter and ex-wife are strained as a result of his unusual devotion to his job as a CIA operative, he now seeks to mend things and to be the father he always wanted to be but never was.
When Mills discovers that Kim plans to travel to France with her similarly young and naive friend Amanda, he becomes defensive and worried, attempting to convince her that it is unsafe and that she should stay home. He then tries to convince her to let him tag along for the trip, but in the end Mills gives into the demands (and manipulations) of his ex-wife and agrees to let his only daughter travel Europe unescorted.
When Kim and Amanda arrive in Paris, they meet a deceptively charming young man who asks them where they are staying. As soon as they leave, the young man passes on the information by phone to an associate of his. Once at the large penthouse which Amanda rented for the trip, Kim goes to the bathroom, where she receives a call from her concerned father. During the phone conversation, through the atrium window she sees Amanda struggling in a fight against a handful of intruding men, and informs her ex-CIA dad of what is occurring. He urges her to hide, and if caught, to reveal all the identifying features of her captors before she is completely whisked away. She follows her father’s advice but is quickly discovered and captured by the men.
With the helpful hints provided by his daughter in the moments before she was snatched, Mills immediately boards a flight to Paris to track her down and rescue her from kidnappers he suspects are an Albanian gang active in the sex trafficking trade. At one point, he manages a phone call with them and pledges to hunt them down, find them, and kill them. He follows through on his commitment, tracking down the organized criminals who orchestrated the kidnapping, destroying many of their facilities and killing many of their men. Eventually, he finds Kim and brings her safely home to the U.S.
His heroic acts in the pursuit of rescuing his daughter earn Mills the admiration and gratitude of his ex-wife and her husband, as well as a strengthened relationship with his daughter. By the end, Mills helps his daughter pursue her dreams of a singing career, setting up a voice lesson for her with a famous singer for whom he had recently done security work: a good ending for all but the villains.
Besides simply being an excellent story with an exciting plotline and exhilarating action scenes, Taken also embodies a number of good, conservative values that most definitely help make this movie one of the best action films to hit the screen in recent months. From a strained beginning which shows the struggles wrought by divorce and the importance of maintaining close family ties, to the celebration of a hero who saves his daughter no matter the personal cost, and to the happy-ever-after ending which shows reconciliation between father and daughter and between ex-spouses, the movie is unequivocally pro-family, showing the toll of family neglect and the value of hands-on parenting—especially obvious in the scenes where Mills is seen fighting his daughter’s captors. In addition, the film seems to champion Mills’ lone acts of bravery, and his unrelenting drive to do what is right, to butt heads with evil, and to defend his daughter’s innocence.
The film also highlights the often-forgotten but very real and urgent crisis of the global human sex trafficking trade. Though most Americans remain woefully uninformed on the issue, the fact of the matter is that all across the world—including right here in America—this sick and twisted practice takes place, depriving many defenseless young women of their freedom. Taken reminds us that evil is alive and well in the world, and that it must be battled with vigilance and perseverance continuously.
Though it may exhibit too much action and violence for those who are on the squeamish side, Taken is the perfect choice for anyone looking to see a film which emphasizes the centrality of family, the importance of forcefully confronting evil in the world, and which ends with a renewed and strengthened relationship between father and daughter.
Taken (FOX) DVD goes on sale May 12, 2009.