RENEE MONTAGNE, host:
While you're waiting to see which motion pictures win the Oscars this year, maybe you'd like to see a movie that's not exactly Oscar caliber. If so, film critic Kenneth Turan says he's got just the one for you, opening this weekend.
KENNETH TURAN: "Taken" is a brisk and violent action film that can't help being unintentionally silly. It's all about an innocent American teen abducted in Paris by a completely ruthless gang of Albanian white-slavers. And would you believe that the only person who has the skills and the moxie to have even a chance of bringing her back alive is her divorced dad? He starts by giving the bad news to his ex-wife and her new husband.
(Soundbite of movie "Taken")
Mr. LIAM NEESON: (As Bryan Mills) She's been taken.
Ms. FAMKE JANSSEN: (As Lenore) What are you talking about?
Mr. NEESON: (As Bryan Mills) Any enemies overseas, Stuart?
Mr. XANDER BERKELEY: (As Stuart) Why would I have any enemies?
Mr. NEESON: (As Bryan Mills) Because you do business overseas through multiple shell corporations. Because you're involved in an oil deal with a bunch of Russians that went south five years ago.
Mr. BERKELEY: (As Stuart) How the hell do you know about that?
Mr. NEESON: (As Bryan Mills) Because I was not going to let my daughter live with someone without knowing everything about them.
TURAN: That's Irish actor Liam Neeson as the tough dad. Larger than life at 6-foot-4, and an actor who wears his heart on his sleeve, Neeson throws himself into the role of Bryan Mills, ex-CIA, making good use of a purposeful scowl that combines fury with disgust. He certainly has a lot to scowl about. Mills is retired now, spending lonely nights consuming take-out Chinese food because he wants to get closer to his daughter and make up for years of separation. But as Mills himself says, I'm retired, not dead. And when his daughter and a friend get abducted by those amoral Albanians, he springs into action.
(Soundbite of movie "Taken")
(Soundbite of music)
Mr. NEESON: (As Bryan Mills) If you were looking for ransom...
(Soundbite of beat)
Mr. NEESON: (As Bryan Mills) I can tell you I don't have money. But what I do have are a very particular set of skills...
(Soundbite of screaming)
Mr. NEESON: (As Bryan Mills) Skills I have acquired over a very long career.
(Soundbite of impact)
Mr. NEESON: (As Bryan Mills) Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you.
(Soundbite of yelling)
TURAN: Mills always puts evil in its place, whether it's a horde of virginity-despoiling Arabs - some stereotypes simply refuse to die - or that unpleasant gang of marauding Albanians. Innocent people do get shot in the process but hey, no one said this was going to be easy. Mills leaves an innocent friend bleeding on the floor and tells her husband: Tell your wife, I apologize. And they say that chivalry is dead.
MONTAGNE: The movie is "Taken." Kenneth Turan reviews movies for Morning Edition and the Los Angeles Times. And we review more of the current movies at npr.org.