Stars: ** out of Four
Summary: Veteran actor Liam Neeson proves he can play a character as deadly as Jason Bourne in this decent action thriller that never really finishes.
Review: When I first saw the trailer for this French-American film, I made the comment that it was “Liam Neeson as Harrison Ford”, essentially, since the plot seems to resemble the fare that Mr. Ford used to end up in during the 1990s. Humorously, this is still pretty true now that I have seen the film. It’s done remarkably well at the U.S. box office, making it one of the early hits of 2009.
Liam Neeson stars as Bryan Mills, a retired CIA “Preventer”, who is divorced and longs to connect with his 17-year-old daughter. It starts very promising, if a little unoriginal, but then again who is? (Haha, I made a quote that sounded like ‘Blade Runner’!)
So Mills’ daughter wants to go to Europe on a trip with one of her friends, but Dad warily disapproves, aware of the dangers for young women traveling alone. He’s soon proven right when nasty Albanian sex traffickers kidnap her. Bryan manages to get one of the Albanians on the phone, and he promises, chillingly, that he will hunt her captors down and kill them. The Albanian cockily wishes him ‘good luck’, and then destroys the phone. That pisses Bryan off.
Don’t piss Bryan off.
With his ‘very particular set of skills’, he sets out to Paris, France, causing havoc in his search for the kidnapped girls. Every baddy he meets he absolutely ruins, at one point strapping one of them to a chair and electrocuting them to death. That’s pushin’ it, Bryan, was that really necessary? Sure, these guys are absolute villains, but why torture him to death? Realistically, you’d never be able to do that without some emotional repercussions (unless you’re a coldhearted bastard, which Bryan clearly is not), so that is one of my major issues with the film. When Bryan starts pushing the limits of cruelty on his mission, I’d like to see the emotional toll it would realistically take on such a man. To me, the film never finishes because, when it’s all said and done, we never get to see Bryan Mills reflect. And for a film so generally good, that’s a shame.
Still, if you’re a guy looking for a testosterone fueled action film, this is the first film in 2009 to deliver.