So I decided to watch one of those mind-numbingly mediocre action films, assuming I'd walk away from the experience merely mind-numbed and ready to move forward with more serious cinema. The exact opposite happened. Not only is Taken a terribly made film in terms of its pacing, plot points, character development, and dialogue, it's one of the most offensive, misogynistic films I've seen in a long time.
imdb summary: Seventeen year-old Kim is the pride and joy of her father Bryan Mills. Bryan is a retired agent who left the Secret Service to be near Kim in California. Kim lives with her mother Lenore and her wealthy stepfather Stuart. Kim manages to convince her reluctant father to allow her to travel to Paris with her friend Amanda. When the girls arrive in Paris they share a cab with a stranger named Peter, and Amanda lets it slip that they are alone in Paris. Using this information an Albanese gang of human traffickers kidnaps the girls. Kim barely has time to call her father and give him information. Her father gets to speak briefly to one of the kidnappers and he promises to kill the kidnappers if they do not let his daughter go free. The kidnapper wishes him "good luck," so Bryan Mills travels to Paris to search for his daughter and her friend.First, the tortured relationship between Kim and her father exists solely to set up the mother as a careless, liberal, money-grubbing asshole. While he gets to be the oh-it's-too-dangerous-for-my-17-year-old-daughter-to-go-to-Paris-alone "good parent," the mother gets relegated to the role of oh-just-let-her-go-I-mean-what-could-possibly-go-wrong "bad parent." Of course, shit goes terribly wrong, and the audience can't help but be all, "that horrible mother should've known better!" Then, as is usually the case, Daddy gets to rush to the rescue while Mommy stays at home sobbing into the arms of her new, rich, conveniently helpless husband.
To make matters worse, the Albanese gang deals in sex trafficking, which is an actual, serious issue in the world, an issue that this film exploits to serve the ultimate, final plot point: Daddy gets to save Kim from the evil Albanese sex traffickers in the moments just before she loses her virginity and remains forever "impure." The most offensive aspect of all this rests on the fact that Bryan's (and the film's) focus never veers from his daughter. So, while we see countless drugged-up young women tied to bed posts, waiting to be raped again, the film treats them and their situation as entirely insignificant; the focus always remains on Daddy's ass-kicking, murdering attempts to save his daughter's virginity.
After he finds her friend Amanda dead and tied to a bedpost, he moves on to the next young woman who might help him, a girl who happens to have his daughter's jacket. He runs from room to room, finding women unconscious, enslaved, raped repeatedly, and he saves that particular girl, not because he's appalled by what's happened to her, but because she might lead him to his daughter. He nurses her back to health, and as soon as she can speak full sentences, he interrogates her about where she got the jacket. Basically, the film makes absolutely no attempt whatsoever to comment on the atrocity of sex trafficking—it serves only as a plot device to help Bryan redeem his broken relationship with his virginal daughter.
I hated this film.