225. Film Club: “Taken”

This episode is all about the film “Taken” starring Liam Neeson as an ex-CIA agent who uses his ‘particular set of skills’ to save his daughter who is kidnapped while on a trip to Paris. Right-click here to download.

Small Donate ButtonYou might remember hearing me talking about this film in a recent episode of the podcast with my friend Corneliu. Remember that? Well, I’m a little bit obsessed by this film, and I talk about it in my stand-up shows, so I’ve decided to devote this episode just to this subject: The film Taken, starring Liam Neeson.

For ages on LEP I’ve been talking about doing episodes about films. I’ve done some movie themed episodes before, but this is the first episode in what I hope will become a series devoted to some classic moments from cinema history. (What Luke, another series – how many series have you started now? – accents, slang, British Comedy, Your English Podcast)
I’ve decided to call the series “Luke’s Film Club” or LFC. (Not Liverpool Football Club)
I could easily have called it “Luke’s Classic Movie Moments” but my brother thought that sounded too American, which put me off slightly. I quite like “Luke’s Classic Movie Moments” or LCMM, for short, so that is the other name of this series.
So, welcome to “Luke’s Film Club” or LFC, which is also known as Luke’s Classic Movie Moments, or LCMM.

taken-filmIn each episode in this series we’re going to look at a classic moment from the movies, and in this one I’ve decided to focus on “Taken” (2008) starring Liam Neeson. Director: Pierre Morel
Writers: Luc Besson, Robert Mark Kamen.

Plot synopsis: A retired CIA agent travels across Europe and relies on his old skills to save his estranged daughter, who has been kidnapped while on a trip to Paris.

Score on IMDB: 7.9/10
Score on Rotten Tomatoes: 58%

This is not one of the greatest works of cinema history. It’s certainly not Citizen Kane or The Godfather or anything. To be honest, it’s a slightly trashy exploitation thriller which pushsd emotional buttons in order to keep you engaged throughout. It has revived the career of Liam Neeson, who is a great actor with a lot of screen presence and gravity. I think Liam Neeson is one of the greatest actors of his generation. Perhaps his most famous role is from Schindler’s List, but he’s been in plenty of other movies and has worked with some of Hollywood’s top talent, including George Lucas, Ridley Scott and Christpher Nolan. Since making Taken, Neeson has become somewhat typecast as this kind of brooding, revenge obsessed middle aged man. He’s made several sequels (Taken 3 is coming soon) and a couple of other similar films since this one.

Now, why have I chosen to bang on about Taken for a whole episode. Well, if you’ve seen the film, you’ll probably agree that it was a wild ride – it’s a thrilling film, but when you think about it, it’s quite ridiculous, and has some very questionable ethics and undertones of racism. But for some reason we’re all expected to leave our brains at the door, and not think about that stuff too much. It pushes some rather strong emotional buttons, and that makes you ignore the dodgy politics and subtext of the film.

I expect a lot of you have seen it because it was a big hit around the world, but many of you won’t have seen it. If you haven’t seen it then don’t worry – I’ll explain the plot and other details you need to know. I should say “Spoiler alert” at this moment – which is something you say before you give away the details of the plot before people have seen it. Don’t worry though, because in my opinion it’s impossible for me to spoil this film. Honestly, it can’t be spoiled. If you’ve seen the trailer for the film you’ll know exactly what happens, and it’s still enjoyable. In fact, the title of the film tells you all you need to know: “Taken” – his daughter is taken (kidnapped) and he does everything he can to get her back. That’s it. It’s a ride, with very few surprises along the way. It does exactly what it says on the tin.
“It does exactly what it says on the tin”

So in this episode we’re going to hear a classic moment from this film, and then I’m going to give you my viewpoint on the film as a whole, and then we’ll go back to analyse some of the language in the classic scene.

You might be thinking: Luke, you’re thinking about it too much. Don’t over-analyse it. Well, I find it hard to leave my brain at the door when I see films and I don’t think I should. Why should I stop thinking when I see a film? No, I like to analyse and intellectualise films, and I LOVE to intellectualise trashy movies like this one. One of my favourite things is to sit around with friends and just take the piss out of a film while watching it. I studied films at university and I learned that any film can be analysed as a text and that everyone is free to take their own interpretation of a movie. I also love talking about films and popular culture in my stand-up routines and I find that they’re a great source of comedy.

So let’s deal with Taken.

1. The classic moment: “I will find you, and I will kill you.”

2. Taken: My point of view (it’s a rant really)

3. Intonation & Sentence stress from the classic scene. (plus some versions in different accents)

The Classic Moment -“I will find you, and I will kill you”
Liam Neeson is a retired CIA agent. While his daughter is on holiday in Paris she is kidnapped. He manages to speak to one of them on his mobile phone. This is his only opportunity to speak to the kidnappers and then save his daughter.

The speech

I don’t know who you are. I don’t know what you want. If you are looking for ransom, I can tell you I don’t have money. But what I do have are a very particular set of skills, skills I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you. If you let my daughter go now, that’ll be the end of it. I will not look for you, I will not pursue you. But if you don’t, I will look for you, I will find you, and I will kill you.

[after a long pause] Good luck.

Taken Kill Map

Here’s a review of “Taken” from my favourite film review podcast Mark Kermode & Simon Mayo’s Film Review.