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dir Pierre Morel
scr Luc Besson, Robert Mark Kamen
with Liam Neeson, Maggie Grace, Famke Janssen, Xander Berkeley, Katie Cassidy, Olivier Rabourdin, Leland Orser, Jon Gries, David Warshofsky, Nicolas Giraud, Holly Valance, Camille Japy
release Fr 27.Feb.08, UK 26.Sep.08,
08/France Europa 1h33
Guns blazing: Neeson
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E|
With a strong, relevant theme but a superficial screenplay, this film tries to be a big smart action movie even though it's utterly ludicrous. Even though the serious lead actor lends gravitas, the corniness wins out in the end.
Bryan (Neeson) is an ex-CIA operative who left his job to live near his beloved daughter Kim (Grace), who moved to Los Angeles with his ex-wife (Janssen) and her wealthy new husband (Berkeley). After turning 17, Kim heads for a European vacation with her pal Amanda (Cassidy). Bryan, knowing what evils lurk out there, insists on some severe ground rules, which the girls break immediately upon landing in Paris. And sure enough, they are kidnapped by human trafficking Albanians. But Bryan is hot on their trail, and his brutally efficient training will come in handy.
This is one of those profoundly stupid scripts that announce every plot point several minutes before it happens, then create some ridiculous contrivance to make sure our hero emerges from each sticky situation unharmed, no matter how many corpses he leaves in his wake. No quantity of dead traffickers is too much for Bryan. In fact, he says to his old Paris cop pal (Rabourdin): "I'd even tear down the Eiffel Tower to get my daughter back!"
And we believe him, mainly because Neeson brings such commitment to the role. He's a force of nature here, relentlessly pursuing the baddies with righteous vengeance. He can take out a building full of Albanian thugs even when he's unarmed (it helps that they are incapable of shooting a machine gun in his general direction). But Neeson somehow makes us believe in his commitment, even if the fact that he can't get hurt removes every whiff of suspense.
Morel (District 13) directs the film with slick energy, making the most of his big movie star and keeping everyone around him on key as well, even if none of the characters get a chance to develop at all. Every scene plays out with deadly seriousness, no matter how ridiculous it gets. And the result is that the film becomes oddly entertaining and sometimes enjoyably, unintentionally hilarious.
|R E A D E R R E V I E W S|
|Alex Robertson, Boston, USA: "This film is beautiful. While the plot is simplistic, formulaic and jingoistic, the ruthless determination and brutality of Neeson's protagonist is perfect. Maggie Grace plays a MacGuffin rather than a character, but to criticize the movie on such grounds is missing the point. Part of this movie's beauty lies in how much of his soul Bryan gives up searching for his daughter. Committing murder, vicious torture and maiming of the innocent constitute a heavy moral price. Bryan pays it gladly." (Jan.22.09)|
© 2008 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall|
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