Taken Blu-Ray Review

Cover Art and Menus: 9/10
I like this cover. It’s uncomplicated if not a bit heavy-handed, but I still like it. The menu is easy to use, all your bits and pieces are easy to access, just the way I like it.

Features: 5/10

  • Includes Both Theatrical And Extended Cut Of The Film – You don’t get much more from the extended cut, though it’s nice to offer them both. It doesn’t bump up the value for me, which is what I’m looking for these days. Value for my cash, and these two versions don’t do that for me.
  • Extended Cut Audio Commentary By Director Pierre Morel, Cinematographer Michel Abramowicz And Car Stunt Supervisor Michel Julienne – If you enjoy listening to an enthusiastic director talk about his movie, find the right mood for a second run of the film you will enjoy the ride along with him.
  • Extended Audio Commentary By Co-Screenwriter Robert Mark Kamen – I didn’t listen to this commentary, So I cannot comment. Hey I only have so much time in the day.
  • Le Making Of Featurette – Lots of talking heads and watching the director do more than direct! Very good, brief, look at the making of the movie. It seems like it was made for French TV, so there are subtitles. You’ve been informed.
  • Avant Premiere Featurette – I am never interested in these showings of the premiere’s of films. It’s a bit of glamor, a bit of hob-nobbing with the fancy folks in Hollywood…not my style.
  • Inside Action Side-By-Side Scene Comparisons – This is a mild but interesting little extra. It’s fly on the wall look at the filming of a scene as you see it along side the final cut version. You can choose from a few different scenes, so if you are interested in the mechanics of doing action scenes, this is a good lesson in practical film making.
  • Black Ops Field Manual- Now this is a new idea in extras. Watch the film with this turned on and you will learn about how the characters’ skills and choices are somewhat grounded in reality with what kind of training they would have had, what their limitations would be, etc. You also get a map of the city, locations of where each scene takes place, along with a clock and body count at the top 🙂
  • Digital Copy – Copy this file to your Ipod/Iphone or laptop and watch on the go.

The Movie: 7/10
Liam Neeson, you go dude! I love it when I’m not sure what to expect from an actor in a role that seems out of their scope. It makes a movie more exciting. This time I was pleasantly surprised. I’m not sure why it’s surprising that Liam Neeson can kick some ass and make me believe he’s a father determined to find his kidnapped daughter, he’s pretty much capable of anything in my book. That is the first thing that stands out for Taken in my book. The “action star” brings me in and gets a hold of me from almost the beginning and never lets go.

Admittedly, the first few minutes are hokey, spelling out every little detail in very over the top Hollywood style, but that smooths out when the heart of the story begins. It isn’t a clever movie at all. Let’s face it, a man on the hunt for his daughter’s kidnappers, it’s pretty straight forward, but it’s the turbulent action and the excellent performances that made it a thrill ride and not just a ho-hum jaunt around Paris.

The set up is fairly old school. Young American women being kidnapped to be sold on the open market to unscrupulous men around the world. The more pure, the more valuable. Neeson just happens to have a 17 year old daughter, pure as all get out, and she’s naively gone to Europe unsupervised. Another strange but lucky coincidence is that her daddy is an ex-special ops dude who has a set of skills that he proclaims makes him a kidnappers worse nightmare. Handy:) Like I said, this isn’t a clever or haughty kind of story, it’s in your face, rally the gut instincts kind of thing that will get you churned up and wanting to save poor exploited girls around the world. At least that’s what it did for co-star Famke Janssen:)

Speaking of Janssen, I’m not a big fan of hers and in Taken she plays the bitchy ex-wife so that doesn’t help. But to be fair, she does a good job of convincing me she’s had a hard time with this very controlled ex-husband, Neeson, and is now just forced to cope with him as they have their daughter to raise.

When we have been spoon fed the details, the set up of each character and what the situation is with the characters, it mellows out for a short time, and then the ass kicking starts. That’s right, there is some fightin’, some fussin’, and some killn’ in this movie. The car chase is awesome. The explosions aren’t over the top but big enough to get the blood flowing. The sets are interesting and seem to be places I haven’t been before, so that’s always a good thing to experience. The look and feel of the movie is fairly slick, but not glossy. It tries to be gritty but doesn’t quite pull it off, I suppose because of the PG-13 rating. I would have liked to have seen more blood or hard core darkness with the whole human selling thing, but hey, that’s a whole other movie.

The whole vibe of the movie is “Father determined to get his daughter back from the very very very bad guys.” Even I got a bit of a daddy-complex from this movie, and that’s saying A LOT! It’s a thrill ride with a great cast, awesome director, and of course, written by Luc Besson, it’s got that something something I just can’t describe. It’s not great. I won’t say it’s pushing a high score, but for what it is I rate it for the pure excitement of it all.

Audio & Video: 8/10
Taken uses a stylistic color palette and some crushed blacks in darker scenes even when it was released theatrically. The Blu-Ray disc, while a flawless transfer from FOX, comes across uneven because of this. Some scenes look super sharp, some super grainy, and darker scenes lack detail in the shadows.  But FOX can only work with the director’s vision and they have recreated the theatrical version perfectly. This isn’t HD showcase material. The BD50 disc and the high bit rate do help though.

Audio is where the disc excels. The DTS-HD Master audio track is vibrant and powerful where it counts. Taken is a pure action thrill ride and you will be ducking in your seat when you hear some of the gunfire this disc produces.

Overall, Taken is a mixed bag on Blu-Ray. The picture quality is average and the sound is reference quality, but the movie is still great and certainly worth a watch.

Value: 5/10
I’m not sold on this movie as one I want on my shelf, so the price isn’t winning me over. There are some good extras, but not enough bang (so to speak) to bump up the value for me, so this is a rental for me. It’s action packed, got some interesting twists that I haven’t seen in a movie for a while, and Liam Neeson is well worth an hour and a half of your time, just not a chunk of your cash:)

Overall Score 7/10