- Pierre Morel
- Reviewed by
- Gon Curiel a.k.a. Groucho
- Review date
- Tuesday, September 16, 2008
The main character is bodyguard Bryan (Liam Neeson), now retired in order to be close to his daughter Kim (Maggie Grace), who lives with her mother (Famke Janssen). Bryan is an action man, but itís important to understand that heís also quite the loving father, and a mixture of both has never occurred, but it will soon enough. Establishing the peaceful (or is it?) side of the main character is the slowest part of the story, but luckily thatís how it begins, not how it ends.
Bryan comes off as paranoid, and unfortunately the movie proves him right, because no excess of warning is enough for his daughter when she travels to Europe and gets into trouble from the very airport. This is one spin that I personally didnít like of the script: it proves super-paranoid parents, as my own, right. Who can blame them for worrying though, but one wishes they werenít proved right, finding their overprotection justified.
This dad however is as prepared to warn as he is to act, and heís really not one to be subdued. Heíd rather kill than make a deal, thatís this kind of man. Itís like he wants to cure the world from all evil, and still he retains a great goodness in himself. The balance is of such complexity that the whole film could be about that. Luckily, again, it doesnít focus on this duality, it just implies its difficulty, but stays on the action, on what matters for this tale.
And what matters is the kidnapping of the girl and Bryanís subsequent actions. Heís a resourceful man who doesnít hesitate to use brute force against his detractors but usually goes for the brainy approach and pulls off his stunts intelligently. Whatís best is we totally believe all this is possible. From the very casting itís implausible, I would never have thought of Liam Neeson as an action man and indeed itís against-type, but it works, both because heís tuff-e-nuff and because his character is so well-scripted that we just follow him around, believing blindly in what he is, despite our beliefs.
The story by Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen also doesnít worry about judgment. Indeed, Bryanís defiance of the law and constant risk-taking might seem stupid to some, but itís his way of action, the only one he can consider given his experience, and it works to an extent, though thereís much cruelty and killing in his path. This isnít black and white; sure, ďlegalĒ law enforcers can be corrupt, but that doesnít mean they always or surely are. Bryan can be as wrong in overprotecting his daughter as he can be about all cops being dirty, and though the story proves him right in both extents, it doesnít seem to me like it defends his absolute correctness.
Again (and this is getting repetitious Iím afraid), that the story doesnít question Bryanís ways or beliefs is no more than the lack of obstacles for the story to flow; consider what it would be like if Bryan was constantly questioned by the story itself whether heís right or wrongóit would slow him down, and that would be deadly.
This is a far superior ďpopcorn flickĒ and a rather simplistic classy one. Itís caught in the middle and thatís how itíll be treated. But it will turn irresistible to whoever catches it. As with everything else, Bryan wonít stop to wonder whether you like his film or not; heíll just take you there.
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