Runtime: 132 Mins (total)
What To Expect: A slow burning realist thriller that could’ve maybe lost a few lbs
A lot of people are saying that this movie is not like Taken. But I’m not going to start this review by saying what it isn’t like and instead say what it is like. The first movie that comes to mind is 8mm, starring Nicolas Cage and directed by Joel Schumacher. A drama/thriller about a private detective on the trail of people who are “not human”. 8mm was released in 1999, this is set in 1999. They’re not that similar though, people just need to keep an eye on what genre this actually is.
So anyway, Liam Neeson is a former detective turned private detective. And one of the benefits of suchs jobs is that unscrupulous individuals who need police insight, but don’t actually want police involvement, can come to your door and pay you big money. That’s what happens when a drug dealer approaches Neeson and asks him to find the men who kidnapped his wife then killed her even though he paid the $400,000 ransom. Neeson accepts the job knowing what his client’s probable intentions are. He doesn’t care. This is a good premise. Of course, there’s a lot more to it than that, but this is a story driven thriller, so spoilers would be ill advised.
I get that some people don’t and aren’t going to dig this movie much. It harkens back to 1970’s thrillers, slower and intended for longer digestion. Think Don Siegel, Gene Hackman or Steve McQueen. But that does not mean the movie is not without problems. Its main drawback is that there are just too many characters, the film could’ve made the same point and arguably a more efficient one with perhaps one villain, half as many aggrieved parties for Neeson to get around and less unnecessary back story.
When I’m speaking of back story, I mean for Neeson in particular. He’s playing a weary and weathered character, but we don’t need to break down his psychology like some trendy 2000’s liberal thriller. In the 1970’s, we didn’t know why Steven McQueen was brooding – real men don’t need to gush about what happened to them. They keep their mouth shut and move forward, so the narrative here should’ve done the same.
The trade off though is a very watchable movie, if you’re willing to give it a chance. Violent with a killer performance from Neeson’s cynical ex-cop, his phone conversations with the kidnappers, where he verbally puts them in place, are supremely manly. There’s even a child actor who surprisingly doesn’t annoy. Violent as fuck too, this movie, but only when necessary.
I like the honesty of this movie. Scum are portrayed the way real scum actually are. Then they meet Liam Neeson with a tazer…
This Blu-Ray release can only be recommended for those seeking the movie in the best possible quality. If you merely want it in high definition, you should probably rent and stream it. Otherwise the only thing going here is that the disc release has a bullet-proof picture, deep colours, murky blacks but extremely finely textured, but still having a certain muted quality to it to reflect the tone of the movie.
It’s a pity the same can’t be said for the extras. There are only two extra mini documentaries, one at 12 minutes, a quiet and thoughtful commentary piece from cast and crew, and the other at six minutes. It was nice to hear Liam Neeson speak of his interest in the character due to his ‘manly’ traits (yes, Neeson uses the word, let’s take it back!), like older characters from the days of yore used to be. Too short though, these features, YouTube stuff in other words, although I don’t recall if these two features appeared online before this release.
Recommended, but only just…