Written by Mr. Mouseburger 24th Nov 2009
Taken is a film with a simple premise; 17 year old girl defies her father by heading off from safety and security of the US of A to go to the violently dangerous and unpredictable Europe (where they speak foreign languages and everything). Such defiance and lack of precaution inevitably leads to the girl being kidnapped, drugged and forced into prostitution by an Albanian gang (as you do).
By chance though, the girl’s father (Brian Mills), wonderfully played by Aslan (disguised as Liam Neeson), overhears the kidnap ordeal as he is on the phone to his daughter when the kidnappers strike. As they take her, one of the perpetrators picks up the phone to see who is on the other end, where Aslan, cool as a cucumber, delivers a chilling promise of what the audience and the kidnappers can expect in the next 90 minutes of screen time:
“If you are looking for ransom, I can tell you I don't have money. But what I do have are a very particular set of skills; skills I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you. If you let my daughter go now, that'll be the end of it. I will not look for you, I will not pursue you. But if you don't, I will look for you, I will find you, and I will kill you.”
To which the kidnapper simply says “good luck” and hangs up the phone. The kidnappers could be forgiven for thinking that this is just a desperate tough guy threat by an impotent father thousands of miles away designed to dissuade them from their actions.
However, they couldn't have been more wrong if they tried as this particular father is what the film terms as a “Preventer” (someone who stops bad things happening), but what I like to refer to as a “Crazy Apeshit Killing Machine”. His first action was, while talking on the phone to record any responses from that kidnappers. OK, so he hasn't got much to go on, just the voice of the person saying “good luck”, but one of his particular sets of skills is to be able to listen to this over and over on the long and tedious flight from the US to Paris without going crazy. Surely an Ipod would have been far better for such a journey....
He arrives in Paris and it is not long before Aslan is storming around the city fighting/killing his way up the Albanian mafia’s chain of command, until he gets to the top of the sleazeball tree and meets the Albanian gang responsible for the kidnap of his daughter. He gets into their inner sanctum by pretending to be a bent cop, looking for a cut in the profits. He is however presented with a problem, there are many men in the room and he does not know which one is Marko, who, he has discovered, is the leader of the Albanians.
Ingeniously though, he has written the words “good luck” in Albanian on a post-it note and, having successfully negotiated a better cut in the profits, he casually asks the gang if they can translate it for him. Marko unwittingly does this, and in doing so identifies himself to Aslan as the voice he heard on the phone only a few hours earlier.
Marko seems strangely smug that he has the ability to read his native language.
Aslan then reveals his true identity to Marko, before pummelling the entire gang to death with a variety of kicks, punches, throws and gunshots. Of course, Marko is not granted the luxury of a quick and relatively painless demise, that would be far too un-Hollywood for the amount of hurt and suffering he has caused Aslan and so, when he finally regains consciousness, he is greeted with the sight of Aslan standing in front of him with two 10 inch nails in his hands.
We are not left for long to imagine what Aslan’s intentions for those nails are, as he slams them down hard into Marko’s kneecaps. If you don’t think that is painful enough, then Aslan attaches crocodile clips, which are teasingly wired up to the electrical supply, to the nails.
Ouch ouch ouch ouch ouch.
Marko is suitably derisive of these threats and even has the brass cojones to spit in Aslan’s face, so Aslan gags his mouth with a cheesy sock (I imagine) and switches on the electricity supply, which must be excruciating. Removing the gag from his mouth Aslan hopes he will be more cooperative, but Marko is made of sterner stuff and once again spits in his face. In goes the gag and on goes the current once again. More screams. Rather than draw out this torture scene unnecessarily (we get the point this could go on ad infintum), when Aslan removes the gag this time, he chillingly promises:
"You either give me what I need or this switch will stay on until they turn the power off for lack of payment on the bill."
Marko finally realises he is screwed, amd starts singing like Beverly Sills* and informs him of everything he wants to know. Aslan does not say a word, but walks towards the switch again, and as he does so, Marko cries and begs Aslan to believe him, that he doesn’t know any more.
It's always nice when someone deserving gets a long and sadistically drawn out painful death.
Aslan looks at him balefully and admits, “I believe you, but that is not going to save you”, and he flicks the switch and leaves Marko to his death. Shocking.
*paraphrased from Dragnet (1987)