What if a super spy like Jason Bourne in his middle-aged years got into a situation where his daughter is kidnapped by illegal human traffickers? The result of that high concept is Pierre Morrel's Taken, a swift, compact French action thriller that does a devious number on the kidnapping story genre with the slickness and smarts of deadly espionage. The kidnapping villains clearly have no idea what kind of father they are dealing with.
As the movie opens, the hero of the story, a divorced ex-CIA operative named Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson), is already paranoid about his 17-year-old daughter, Kim (Maggie Grace) traveling to Paris for the first time with only one other friend, Amanda (Katie Cassidy). After initially refusing to sign consent for her to travel as a minor without parental supervision, he reluctantly agrees thinking that this may be his chance to bond with his estranged daughter since he has moved back closer to his daughter in London, although she has told more than a few lies to be able to slide past Bryan's seemingly overbearing paranoid assumptions. Then, when she arrives in Paris and while on the phone with her, he overhears her being taken away by some group of men.
The initial introductions of Bryan attempting to reconnect with his daughter and his ex-wife, Lenore (Famke Janssen), who is now married to Stuart (Xander Berkeley) but still mad at him for sacrificing his family for his covert job are no doubt a little bit hokey. But the movie quickly shows that it means business once Bryan gives his ultimatum to a kidnapper on the phone he overhears, assuredly warning them that he will find and kill them with all the skills he has acquired. As he quickly hears from a spy analyst friend, Sam (Leland Orser) that the kidnapper is part of a sex trade trafficking mob, he finds he has only 96 hours to find his daughter or else she will likely never be found.
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