Taken (15)

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The Independent Culture

The only puzzle of this toxically stupid Europhobe thriller is that its director (Pierre Morel) and producer (Luc Besson) are both French.

We are looking at cynicism on a very grand scale. Liam Neeson plays a special ops retiree who's guilty that his career in the US military has estranged him from his 17-year-old daughter. So he tries to make it up by letting her go spend three weeks in Europe, against his better instincts; and wouldn't you know, the kid no sooner gets to Paris than she and her pal are kidnapped by a gang of Albanian sex-traffickers. It turns out that the abducted girl's ultimate destination is a high-end flesh auction run for sleazeball plutocrats. But don't worry, Neeson's tearing up Paris in search of her, killing, torturing and maiming along the way. From this we are meant to gather that he's not only a great dad but a kick-ass American who'll teach these swarthy foreigners a lesson – as opposed to a trigger-happy psychotic who'll shoot an innocent woman point-blank: "It's only a flesh wound," he sneers.