Taken

I started off enjoying this movie even though from the very beginning, it appeared simplistic and highly stylized. Liam Neeson is believable as a man with a dangerous past and one who is rarely unnerved. Maybe its because he'll always be Qui Gon Jinn and Raas Al Ghul to me.

But then I started reading into it and looking for subliminal messages. Here we have a well trained and highly successful CIA operative who retired while in his prime to spend more time with his teenager daughter. Something very heartwarming, cheesy and American-esque to it. Very similar to Rourke's role in "the Wrestler", but instead of seeing Neeson's past like Rourkes, we can only infer how dangerous he used to be.

Neeson expresses distrust and sensitivity to traveling abroad, telling his daughter that he is hypersensitive to the dangers of the world.

"If you see something, say something" anyone?

Of all places, his girl goes to France, the one European country, in social culture Americans are most critical of. While there, his daughter is kidnapped by Albanians, foreigners from further east.

Taken-poster-0 Neeson does his best Bond and Bourne impersonation, disarming and resolving any dilemma that faces him. All without breaking a sweat. He drives nasty cars, utilizes his surroundings, and lifted straight from the Bourne movie trailers- communicates with a crooked French official by spying on him, while the Frenchmen and his cadre are clueless to his whereabouts.

The movie brings consciousness to the large prostitution ring and how girls are abducted and rarely ever found. But it proceeds to give a false sense of empowerment, a combat trained father searches out his daughter, and kills literally everyone involved with the abduction.

The Albanian man whom he interrogates, rightfully garners no sympathy. But Neeson's character electrocutes him until he confesses. Is torture really justifiable even when the suspect is complete scum? He then electrocutes him to death, giving the audience- myself included, a taste of true justice for a man who makes a living in a horrific human trafficking ring.

But seriously, torture appears acceptable when the suspect is clearly guilty, but how about when it gets gray?  Did the movie really just try to desensitize me and make me justify torture?

True to cinematic form, the final antagonist is an arab. A seemingly wealthy shabab is seen bidding for sex slaves, and lo and behold the grand prize is an English speaking, Caucasian, young virgin.

She is scuttled off with two or three more women and it becomes clear that the shabab is a middleman for a much older, much more wealthier father figure. The final battle occurs on a fancy yacht, with Arab security guards armed with semi automatics and a penchant for dying quickly- Except for the shabab. Neeson finally has met his match. They trade blows, Neeson breaks his arm or gets shot, but he gets the better of the feisty Arab. First he shanks him in the heart with a broken wine glass, and then proceeds to castrate the man with his own trusty Arab dagger. You know, the one they all carry for a good "Michael Jackson Beat it" knife fight.

On the real- an insanely wealthy, harem loving Arab? Wielding a dagger? Takes a white woman? I wrote a damn paper on Christian-Muslim polemics dating back to the Crusades where the sole purpose was to vilify the Muslim other, and this has set the tone for European perceptions of the Orient for the last 700 years!

The second I heard al-shabab speak in Arabic, I gave up enjoying the movie.

Its not by chance that cheesy justice, status of torture and ill intended foreigners were the motifs of this film.

I'm also not hyper crazy to consider this as a huge Conspiracy to stereotype oil wealthy Arabs, or defend the use of torture against "suspected Muslim detainees" by its distributor 20th Century Fox ;)

At first glance this movie appeared high on "action", & low on "think". A fastpaced action movie with an actor who, amongst a younger audience is typecast as an all around hero. But the controversial themes it induces you to accept- ever so subtly, is enough for this writer to realize what's actually "Taken" is an audience member's prerogative of human sensitivities.