Reviewed on 2010 May 25
Usually trailers make a movie out to be an amazing piece of work, only to have the audience cough up $10 (or better) and learn the thing is really a piece of…something else. (cough Legion cough) ) Here I was happy to see the opposite occur: the promos didn’t interest me that much, and then when I finally got a chance to watch this I really liked it.
Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) is a former CIA agent preparing for a different kind of mission as the film starts: a civil ex-husband trying to get his daughter Kim (Maggie Grace) the perfect gift for her seventeenth birthday party. His ray of sunshine ex, Lenore (Famke Janssen, whose work I always enjoy and playing a real hag here), has to dump all over that simple pleasure, smiling when her shiny rich new husband trumps Bryan’s present. It’s understandable when Bryan, against his better judgment, allows Kim to sample the sweet life by going to Paris with her with her friend Amanda (Katie Cassidy). He’s concerned that there will be no adults, but Lenore assures him she’ll be fine: Amanda’s nineteen, and once they arrive they’re going to be staying in a nice apartment with other members of Amanda’s family. Bryan grudgingly agrees but gives Kim a cell phone with his number programmed into it, admonishing her to call every night. Of course the girls are kidnapped their first night in the city. What the kidnappers don’t know is that Bryan is an army of one.
I think what I liked about this was how realistically it set Bryan up to go against his inner voice. No, he didn’t like letting Kim fly off unchaperoned to another country, but neither did he want to be the one that always told her “no”, especially after that party. Good acting helped even when it got a little silly. Besides, just getting to watch Liam Neeson crack skulls for about 90 minutes—which in my opinion is always an afternoon well-spent—the film does sort of show travelers some things not to do. “No, I don’t want to share your cab. Go away, please, or my father will hurt you” might be a useful phrase for young women to learn in multiple languages.
Three chocolate morsels. Somewhat formulaic, loud, and many times it leaves reality behind in a shallow ditch, but it’s shamelessly entertaining.