Somehow I missed this one on its original release but read many comparisons to it in reviews of one of my early favourites of this year, Edge of Darkness, so I was quick to check it out when it appeared on TV. In light of how much I liked Edge, I have to admit I wasn’t too open to this one being anywhere near as good, which I guess is just the opposite situation to those who avoided or dissed Edge for being “just another Taken…”
I was kind of pleasantly surprised. There’s a brevity to the introduction of characters prior to the total disruption of their lives here that I just adored. We see Liam Neeson dithering over a karaoke machine in an electronics store, making sure it’s absolutely the right one, then we see him giving it to his daughter at her 16th birthday party – but not before Famke Janssen, her mother, gives him sh*t for being a bad father, which he evidently is not, and though the daughter appreciates the karaoke machine, she’s quickly distracted by her new stepfather, who has bought her a pony. A simple shot of Neeson looking dejected after this scene is all we need to care about him (and anything he might care about) for the rest of the movie. The wraparound story here concerning the daughter’s ambition to sing (and Neeson being a bodyguard at one point to one of her idols) is just a little corny, it has to be said, but I kind of settled into it like a nice blanket around the otherwise awful brutality of the rest of the movie.
The rest of the movie is comparable to Edge of Darkness, not to mention a dozen other movies before both of them (I’ll throw in Trade as one you might not have seen) – but it’s one of those stories that, as long as it’s done well, never really gets old. The good news here is that with Liam Neeson in the lead (even if he’s just playing Liam Neeson yet again), this is most certainly done well. I didn’t find his anger quite so convincing as Mel Gibson’s in Edge, or to pick one of those dozen others, Denzel Washington in Man on Fire, and the action doesn’t sting quite so much either. But at 90 minutes who’s complaining. If you like this genre you’ll have no problems with this one.