Big Mister Raincloud

For reasons that have precious little to do with its merits as a film, Taken is an absolutely fascinating experience. About two years ago I wrote about a movie that became a runaway hit partly because it came together in all the right places at exactly the right time. The film - Little Miss Sunshine - was a cutesy fluff piece that, like its 2008 version Juno, hit the theatres and audience right in the centre of the bullseye.

Taken is another of these perfectly timed releases, only the world has descended into economic Armageddon and social chaos in the interim. The result is a movie that allows its 2009 audience to extract some vicarious payback from all those mysterious bastards who made them poor again. This is a revenge tale through and through, bereft of any real moral grounding and quivering under the weigh of its own shaky justifications and ethics. Liam Neeson plays Bryan, a one killing machine in search of his kidnapped (and soon to be white slave) virginal daughter. It plays into an American fear complex that has bad people doing terrible things around every corner and dovetails it into the barking-mad child safety movement that made most of the children in the Western World drooling halfwits whose entire lives are played out in their bedrooms on Facebook and in virtual worlds instead of the real one.

In a nutshell, it's a nearly perfect distillation of middle-aged Western angst.

Taken's real strength as a marketable entity however, remains that this is one itch that you can scratch (perhaps more accurately - scratch out). All of the frustrations associated with feeling helpless in the face of an economy in free fall, bad news on every front and getting old are whisked away in a flurry of deadly karate chops and pistol fire. I lost count of the number of bad guys Neeson dispatches about an hour in.

Taken is a quasi-remake of Death Wish ('74), the Charles Bronson movie that became an overnight sensation in a time not all that dissimilar to ours. It speaks directly to an audience that wants to take control of their circumstances, but can't. It's both vicious and remorseless but it's clearly resonating with movie goers because it's also simple.

I'm here. My daughter's over there. You're in the way. I shoot you. Now you're not.

If only life were this straightforward.

The popularity and excellent reviews this film is enjoying says bad things about us and where we might be headed.


Dropkick said...

hold on, did you go to theater or just download this bad boy?
i was itching to write a review for this.
One of the most ridiculous films i have ever seen.
The fact that this is blowing certain people's minds seems like a farce to me.
Maybe it is the times,
maybe it's the weather,
who knows?
Is it entertaining?
.... yeah, how could it not be?
is it good?
no, how could it be?

terrific review.
you may have stolen my thunder but at least you unleashed the hurricane.

La Sporgenza said...

I watched the PAL UK Release (it arrived yesterday)in the safety of the upper Segredos theatre. Unfortunately, midway through the movie the cat startled me and I had to take her out. Instinctively, I dove low, rolled and garroted her in one seamless motion.

Donna's gonna be furious.

the coelacanth said...

today i rode my bike up to college st, had lunch with my girlfriend, my sister and sister-in-law and nephew, walked into a record store and bought 3 cd's, kissed my girlfriend good bye, went to kensington, bought some bananas and walnuts, then cycled to work in the gorgeous sunshine, ALL IN MY BEDROOM ON FACEBOOK!!! isn't it wonderful how i can live my ENTIRE LIFE on FACEBOOK?!?!?!?

Anonymous said...

Today I played on my Fischer Price Smart Cycle and pretended I was riding on College Street! Then I searched on the Internet for the best eating place in the whole city. I played Sim-Family for a while and then downloaded 3 Beyonce songs and danced on my bed listening to my iPod. I surfed some porn and found a new girlfriend. I watched a youtube video of someone eating a banana and nuts! No... hold on.... that must have been the porn site too! Hahahahhahhahaha. I played some more Smart Cycle and then made Sunspots on my bedsheets and then looked in the mirror for a while. I downloaded Second Life!

My face scares people which is why I can't go outside. Byn (my sitter) says it's too dangerous and brown people might kidnap me and make me their sex slave.


Worsenfunk said...

I agree! Although to be fair - meta critic does give it a below 50 mark - which i saw right before going to the movie and was unsettled - kris however, had faith in the 4 star (or whatever they do) review...For shame. Although i see that death wish is coming from the same headspace, it is head and shoulders above taken - maybe because of its gritty 70's aesthetic or class or charles bronson being more believable - or the utter lack of sentimentality that plaugues taken. I mean 'Bryan' is SO PATHETIC! Even if you get hammered and just want to watch things blow up - you can't really do it comfortably because you have to sit through minutes of 'Bryan' being yelled at by his wife and looking through his scrapbook of his itty bitty pretty teeny weeny princess. BLECH!