Review: Taken

I was considering getting Max Action to write a review for this one, and he probably will soon enough, but in the meantime I’ll write down one of my own quick little ones to give you guys in the insight to Pierre Morrel’s action flick, Taken, starring Liam Neeson. This has personally been my favorite trailer for the last couple of months.

The film, as you can see in the trailer, is about a former government operative (Neeson) who specialized in “preventing” conflict. I suppose this would be most similar to Jack Bauer or Jason Bourne, but they never get into the details of what he did. There is a very amusing BBQ table talk scene (which in most movies occurs at a bar) between our hero Bryan Mills (exciting name) and his buddies from the Old Times talking about Beirut, but aside from that all we know is that Liam Neeson is a very dangerous man.

His weekend-visitation-custody daughter, Kim, asks a favor of him, and vis-a-vie her mother, Lenny (played by the milf-tascular Famke Jansen in this film, they would have had some good lookin kids…and this Katie kid is good looking. Kinda dumb and obnoxious but hey…OK so you think this parenthetical tangent is going off point but its ENTIRELY relevant to the plot because in about 2 sentences I’m going to tell you what happens, as you have seen in the trailer, and why it relates to the people in this movie being hot etc etc), tricks Bryan into signing a permission sheet to allow their daughter to go spend a month or something in Paris to see museums and stuff. Daddy Mills says “no way, the world is dangerous.” Mommy says “You’re being a paranoid jerk now sign the papers.” Then the daughter cries and screams I hate you at her dad and then he signs the papers. Too bad she was lying about seeing Museums and stuff in Paris. Dad finds this out later, however it is totally irrelevant because, as it goes with all Luc Besson produced films, the action stays in Paris. And why is that? Because paranoid secret agent Daddy was right! The world IS a dangerous place, and within 15 minutes of arriving in Paris, the daughter gets kidnapped by sex traffickers.

Moral of the movie: Never Question Liam Neeson. Now this has happened on multiple occasions in multiple films, and aside from the God-awful The Haunting, Liam Neeson has always been the unstoppable correctomundo dude. He’s been a Jedi, he’s saved thousands of Jews, and he’s even been the Christian God and Savior in Large Feline Form. For those who say “But he died in Batman Begins!” obviously you don’t know the REAL story about Ra’s Al Ghoul, which can be summed up in two words: Lazerus Pit.

Ahem, back to the Taken review…my apologies. Anyways, Kim gets kidnapped and its up to Bryan, under the approval (long overdue I’m sure) of Lenny and her new husband Stuart, to go get her. They have finally accepted the fact that only Bryan Mills is awesome enough, regardless of how much they hated the whole “Former CIA Guy” thing before, to rescue their daughter, and send no one else to get her. Now I get it– you have the best of the best already, why not send out milk cartons? Why not offer a ransom? (Stuart bought her, literally, a horse for her birthday. He owns oil or something). Hell if it’s sex trafficking why not go there and buy her with your oodles of cash? Nope, we need to send the Man himself after his daughter, using her as a human Macguffin so that he can mow down over 50 people, most of which with his bare hands. Don’t expect any growing relationship or revelations scenes like Besson’s best screen effort, and one of our personal favorites, Leon, to occur in this one. Just a lot of Sayoc Kali/Krav Maga styled Assassination killing strikes over and over again with a couple of chases thrown in between for good measure.

I’m going to be honest here, while I did over all enjoy the film, it pretty much ends up being a better-shot-modernly-edited Steven Segal film, only with a better actor at his most tepid level of performance. In some scenes he’s very good. My favorite moment of his, and I believe its in the above trailer, is when he is wrapping up a karaoke machine for his daughter. He is methodical, he is accurate, and he does not mess up like many people would. The gift is wrapped better than your grandmother could do it, because Bryan Mills is a very dangerous man, and what makes him dangerous is his 110% dedication to everything. However in some scenes, oddly enough the family ones, he is very…TV-dad-ish, and not strange in the least. Cut back to when he’s in ULTRA KILL MODE and he will beat women, destroy property, and as he threatens, “tear down the Eiffel Tower” to get his daughter back. If nothing else, this movie proves all of that to be true, and Neeson’s performance is at its best when he’s dishing out the goods. However, it isn’t exactly anything special, which is unfortunate.

So yes, Morrel and Neeson trust each other, but I think at some times this movie was a little too trusting. Released to the US a year later as PG-13 thriller along the lines of the Bourne films, the violence in this “revenge” film is very dulled down. Gunshots are not loud, punches have impact, but sometimes work too well, and the violence is mostly offscreen. This isn’t all a bad thing, of course, but I did expect a little more brutality than this in this sort of film. When your main character is a Very Dangerous Man, yes he should be able to go through people like butter, but at times Taken gets ridiculous. Liam Neeson literally defeats over 50 % of his opponents in one or two hits. Supposedly many of these people are very dastardly, and some of them should be high-ranking body guard types, much like himself, but they never put up a fight at all, whatsoever.

When James Bond does this, I expect it because he is the nation’s top, demigod operative. When Jason Bourne does this, he doesn’t expect it but demonstrates an art that he doesn’t want, one that twisted his brain to the tightest screw. Neeson’s character is almost too powerful for the movie to stay thrilling, and because of this we know he’s going to get his daughter back from the outset and it devolves into a “how many people CAN Neeson kill while getting his daughter back?” hypothesis, rather than a “How many people will he Have to kill?” as it was in the Old Days. The answer is, of course, “a lot,” but because we never see the majority of the violence or it is all so “BANG KNOCKOUT” styled, it doesn’t feel all that exciting at times. This becomes further flawed when he is finally trapped by the badguys and is saved by the world’s lamest Deus Ex Machina, and not by any part of his skills.

Don’t get me wrong though- the action is INCREDIBLY shot, Morrel will be a big name in action movies to come if he keeps it up, he simply needs to go back to his hard-hitting B13 routes and ditch the super-killer main characters. Have some fun Morrel! Don’t fall into the recent trend of super-agent-can’t-be-stopped that Craig and Damon have created. Christ I think even Statham took more damage in his last couple of films…

I will end this review simply stating I liked the movie, but I don’t think its as high caliber as I was hoping for. It flows very fast, has a great pace, some cool moves for the Kali/Arnis enthusiast, and Neeson does make a pretty cool action hero. The plot, even though I have made fun of it, doesn’t have any real gaping holes, it just doesn’t go past the level of “serviceable” either. Morrel’s best effort, District B13, was an example of a movie that does such a thing, and most of Besson’s work has been more than capable of that in the past. It’s time to kick it up a notch, guys. Go back to the drawing board and just add some meat to the bone you’ve structured so damn well!

Preview: Push


I’ve honestly become divided on this one. Recently every action movie has traded in the idea of “high strung” or “important” secret agent “foils nefarious plot” (Casino Royale was the last good example of this, Quantum of Solace is a revenge story, demoting it’s “action film” status to “revenge thriller with action”) to Super Soldier Doesn’t Remember Who He Was So Now He Has To Figure it out (Every Bourne movie, Xmen: Wolverine, and pretty much every recent video game in existence). So aside from the Jason Statham movies where, hello, the actor is Jason Statham and that’s all we need to know, we’ve either had secret agents or amnesiac super soldiers as our recent heroes. Or both, thank you Matt Damon.

Personally I’m most divided cause I’m working on my own plot dealing with this kind of character, but it’s going to be different, I promise. Everyone I’ve talked to so far sounds pretty interested.

But this new thing, Push, takes the first idea of a secret agent and the second idea of a super soldier, supposedly does away with the “I don’t remember, so I have to find out!” angle, and amps up the creativity (whatever you have to say otherwise, I’ve never seen a movie where the psychic moves the guns to attack his opponents…ok wait. X-men…WELL HE WAS A MAGNA-KINETIC SO ITS DIFFERENT!), so that we can get something different in theaters…

So I don’t know how to feel about it yet. On the one hand, the previously mentioned Djimon Honsou is in it, and that makes me flash a big dumb grin (You’re an Oscar Nominated Actor for CHRIST SAKES!) ! On the other hand, Dakota Fanning is in it, and she couldn’t even get attention by being raped. (Hound Dog). No, I’m serious, no one saw her last awful film. About being raped. And neither do I, and I don’t intend to, cause Dakota Fanning is scarier than any movie monster since the 1980’s. (That’s sure to lead to a bunch of new readers who search google for “Dakota Fanning” and “Rape.”)

On the other hand, people I know decently, regardless of our differing tastes, have told me it looks terrible but have at least admitted that’s because of the shooting and editing style, which I already figured would be a problem. NO one knows how to shoot action movies anymore, at least not interestingly.

I’m gonna make a more interesting post later. In the meantime, this is just a simple preview for Push. I’m kinda outta enthusiasm for this one, but I’ll tell ya why later.

One blog I love to bring up quite often is written by John August, the guy who wrote Big Fish, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (the Tim Burton one) and Charlie’s Angles. He’s done quite a few other interesting works, such as his directorial debut The Nines starring Ryan Reynolds, and was set to work on SHAZAM! when the company took the project, sadly, out from under his feat. On his website he offers wonderfully insightful and amusing anecdotes to writers, as well as some glimpses into the industry as a whole. It’s been a ton of help for me, and this article is no different. In fact, its REALLY DAMN helpful.

In a recent article, John wrote about why it is a good idea and why it is REQUIRED that young writers (or older ones) join up with the Writer’s Guild of America (WGA), the guys behind last year’s fiasco.

Here’s a snippet to tell you why:

Let’s say a studio reads a script it wants to buy. The writer isn’t a member of the WGA. If the writer weren’t required to join the union, the studio could save a lot of money and hassle.

* It could pay less than minimums.
* It wouldn’t have to pay into the health plan.
* It wouldn’t have to pay into the pension plan.
* It wouldn’t have to pay residuals.
* It could decide which name would be listed for “written by.”

Given these advantages, a studio would certainly prefer if the writer weren’t WGA, and could make purchase of the script contingent on the writer agreeing not to join the WGA.

I recommend you guys interested in writing read the whole thing. It’s certainly opened my eyes a bit. I think last years strike was a public disaster for the WGA, but they are useful, and since they’re mandatory, we better get what we can out of them.

Preview: Fighting

The only thing I can really say about this one is “hrrrum.” I mean, here we have the American Martial Arts film, only this isn’t truly a martial arts film- its more like a Rocky-esque urban antihero story, Fighting is about…

A young con-artist named Sean MaCarthur runs into a bit of trouble when making a sale one day, only to be noticed by a professional scam artist (played by Terrence Howard). He is invited into the world of “Underground Street Fighting,” which is more like performance fighting for rich people’s entertainment. In the process of this he confronts his own personal morality and his need for validation, all coming to terms when his new manager decides he should throw a fight to make big money.

Fighting trailer in HD

Its a pretty simple story, and because its American Street Fighting you can expect to see some messy, hopefully under-edited action from Channing Tatum, who while is one of those typical teenage heart throb sorta guys (as seen in the less-than-crappy Step Up ) he’s more genuine in his physicality than, well lets say the guy from the atrociously received Never Back Down . I think his moves in this trailer actually proves he’s tough enough to be in an action film.

Now I doubt I’ll see this one in theaters unless I have extra money laying around and am bored or have spent too much time around the lady folk, but the B-grade caliber of the cast (let’s face it, Howard, since the whole Iron Man debacle, you’ve been booted from Oscar Nominee A-List) seems to give it some heft. Then again, having a should-have-been-awarded-best-supporting-actor-for-blood-diamond actor like Djimon Honsou in NBD didn’t really help that one either.

The film is also directed by Dito Montiel , who recently won some accolades with A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints. Who knows then, it might not actually stink. Just wish the could come up with a more credible title.

Surprisingly though, I have looked on threads and people have yet to compare this to the JCVD fighter, Lionheart, which was one of his lower-budget but less craptastic features. I’ll try to put up a youtube clip for comparison.

Ok…maybe it can’t be that bad…but we’ll just have to see.

As a word of admittance, yes, as of right now I’ve wanted to post more often, and in doing so I’ve decided to make STRIKE A POSE FILMS an action-fan blog for the time being. A further announcement on this will be made ASAP.

Hello, Everybody!

I’m here to serve as an independent advertiser for one of the most anticipated sequels of all time (at least in my worthless opinion), CRANK 2: HIGH VOLTAGE.

Chev Chelios, played by the ever-incredible and ass kicking King of the Modern B-Cinema Jason Statham, is a hitman who just ran out of juice…all the way from a 500 foot drop out of a helicopter into the LA pavement. With one final blink in the last frame of the film, many viewers were left wondering if Chelios survived…

Crank 2 is insane

Chev Chelios vs. Godzilla? Dream Sequence

Well thanks to avante-guard action directors Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor (who also serve as the writers), somehow a man dropped from a chopper can survive and be more than enough man to kick ass in the sequel! Released earlier this week is the first full trailer, featuring a wonderfully extreme use of the F-Bomb, stripper nudity, and lots and lots of electrocutions.
The following trailer is NSFW, so put in the headphones and wait for your boss to make it to his office while you sit in your lame little cubicle wishing you could be as cool as JASON FUCKING STATHAM.

This is simply one of the best trailers I’ve ever seen, its totally RED BAN and well, DAMN.

Can’t wait for this baby to come out! When I came out of the theaters of the first film I felt like I had just done 10 lines of Cocaine mixed into a Redbull. It was one of the greatest experiences of my life.

…Yeah my life’s pretty lame, but CRANK 2 looks awesome! It premiers on April 19th 2009.