The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: 20th Century Fox - 2008
MPAA Rating: R/Unrated
Feature running time: 91/93 Minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 2.40:1
Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, Spanish/French Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
Starring: Liam Neeson, Maggie Grace, Famke Janssen, Leland Orser, Jon Gries, Kate Cassidy
Directed by: Pierre Morel
Music by: Nathaniel Mechaly
Written by: Luc Besson & Robert Mark Kamen
Region Code: A
Blu-ray Disc release Date: May 12, 2009
"I will find you, I will kill you"
When a former spy’s estranged daughter is kidnapped in France, he sets out to find her at any cost. Relying on his special skills, he tracks down the ruthless gang that abducted her and launches a one-man war to bring them to justice and rescue his daughter.
Brian Mills (Liam Neeson), is a former CIA operative trained in hand to hand combat who struggles as a divorcee and father of 17-year old Kim (Maggie Grace). Living with Brian’s ex-wife Lenore (Famke Janssen), Kim rarely gets the chance to see her father. He has given up his career to be closer to as well reconnect with Kim as he spent most of her early years as am absentee father. Kim clearly loves her dad and is open to the idea. When the opportunity arises to travel to Europe with her best friend, Kim convinces her dad to let her go on the trip by leaving out some very important details. He is reluctant but agrees only after supplying her with an international cell phone and her promise to call him upon her arrival. The first stop for the girls is Paris, but hours after they arrive they are victims of a disturbing break-in and abduction by an Albanian criminal organization that specializes in trafficking young women. Now, with only 96 hours to find his daughter before she will disappear forever, time is running out and Brian Mills must put his CIA expertise to the test before it’s too late.
It seemed like everyone that I knew who saw this film in the theater liked it. I looked forward to seeing it and I have to say that I really enjoyed Taken. Both the theatrical and unrated cuts are included on this Blu-ray Disc. I watched the unrated cut which adds just a few additional minutes to the theatrical version’s run time. Taking it strictly as a butt kickin’ action flick it is lots of fun. Looking at it as a father who has a 17 year old daughter I was able to appreciate the film’s raw sense of emotion and visceral ruthlessness. Liam Neeson has no trouble conveying this and I thought he came off quite well in his portrayal of Brian. He played the steely nerved, speak softly and carry a big stick type with slick competence. I appreciated the establishment of the connection between Brian and Kim. The fact that his ex-wife, Lenora (Lenny), is now married to a wealthy businessman who can provide both she and Kim with anything isn’t something that is easy for him. He definitely feels the need/desire to make up for lost time and the two have a good relationship. Being a typical 17 year old she isn’t straight with him about exactly what she and her friend Amanda are planning when they get to Europe. Traveling across country following U2 on tour? By the time he learns about it’s too late. At this point Brian seems content in his retirement and perfectly happy to see his old work buddies and pick up some high profile security work here and there. He has remained sharp and once Kim is taken he goes into seek and destroy mode for those responsible.
I think that viewers can share, at various levels, his passion/commitment to the task at hand. His every move it dictated by purpose, fear, and unwavering dedication in securing Kim’s safe return. The action kicks in thusly and the pace is non-stop. The fight sequences and gun play are done well and feature plenty of bone cracking, blood and flying ammo. There are several chase sequences that are good but the longer car chase near the construction site gave me a touch of vertigo with its tight camera work and quick cuts/edits. I have heard more than one reference to the plausibility of someone Neeson’s age being in a high octane thriller/action film like this. Personally I had no problem with it and I thought that the screenplay and the fighting techniques used didn’t present more of a stretch than any other action based movie of this type. The bottom line is that this is an entertaining genre film that features a strong central character that is easy to identify with. His motivation isn’t dictated by money or personal gain but by a willingness to protect that which is most precious to him, his daughter. I had a blast.
The unrated version contains brutal violence, including a scene of torture, language and thematic material.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
Taken comes to Blu-ray Disc from Fox featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 34 mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 4.2 mbps.
This is a great looking high definition presentation from Fox that is nearly reference quality. Colors are bold and vivid with pleasing depth and a diverse palette that takes full advantage of high definition’s higher fidelity. Complexions tend to have a bit of a warm, golden touch but don’t come off as over cooked or unnatural in depiction. Contrast hits the mark and strikes an excellent balance with brightness which empowers colors and whites while preserving solid visibility in low lighting. Blacks are inky and dynamic with discernible gradational quality that provides a near infinite sense of depth. Grain is rendered naturally overall but I did notice that during several of the dark sequences that it took on more prominence which sometimes obscured detail in backgrounds. This also has a mile effect on the perception of sharpness. I don’t necessarily see this as problematic but felt it worthy of note. Daytime and brighter segments are razor sharp and exhibit excellent delineation and dimensional perspective. Images are impeccably detailed in all but a handful of instances where resolution isn’t quite as definitive.
The DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack is demonstration quality and is sure to please those who like to play their systems loud. This recording has excellent dynamic range and boasts superlative clarity and high level detail that is impressive. Dialogue is definitive and appreciably lucid through the center channel as it reaches far into the room. It’s located just slightly in front of the left/right speakers within the acoustic space it occupies in the soundfield. I never had any trouble distinguishing even the slightest changes in the pitch or tonal inflection of voices. Front channel separation and imaging spot on. This drew out both large and small sound elements and allowed their directional correlation based upon the onscreen events to be definable. The mix makes effective and sometimes aggressive use of the surround channels to accentuate the front soundstage and reproduce the spatial and discrete sounds of this busy soundtrack. During the action based sequences the listening position is submerged into a 360 degree web of sound that can be intense as it bombards the senses with a combination of well placed sound effects and musical ambience. This is a dynamically strong audio mix that utilizes low frequency effects to provide viscerally potent impact. Bass response can be prodigious as it occasionally reaches ultra low depths that reach into sub hertz regions. The LFE channel is mixed a bit on the hot side which sometimes elicits deep bass punctuation on sounds where it felt exaggerated. I can’t help but feel guilty for bringing that up because in reality it isn’t a big deal as long as the quality of the bass is high. In this case it certainly is as I found the bass to clean, taut and seemingly ever reaching. I say turn this one and up and enjoy the ride. As a whole this is a well balanced audio/video presentation that definitely makes for an engaging and demo quality home theater experience.
- Theatrical and Unrated versions
- Commentary by Director Pierre Morel, Cinematographer Michael Ambramowicz and Michel Julienne (unrated version only)
- Black Ops field manual: BonusView PiP feature – Geographical locaters, anatomical info, self updating mission dashboard and more
- Le making of: Making of featurette – 18 minutes
- (HD) Avant premiere – 4 minute coverage
- (HD) Inside action: Side by side comparison – 6 segments from the film
- (HD) BD Trailer - Notorious
- Digital Copy Bonus Disc – A standard definition version of the film that can be downloaded from a compatible PC/MAC to a portable media player
Taken doesn’t bring anything new to the action film genre but in my opinion it is a well conceived, executed and ultimately entertaining film that is ably enacted by star Liam Neeson. Its debut on Blu-ray Disc is every bit as competent and features a well balanced and supreme high definition audio/video presentation. The bonus features don’t keep pace and are just average but there is exclusive content and the Digital Copy Disc gives fans the option of taking it on the go. This is a must have for every genre fan because it rocks.
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