Monday, February 16, 2009

(Not) Taken

I'd heard much ado about Taken. My friend Tasha invited me to see it this past weekend. "You'll like it, I promise. It stays busy!"

So I texted my sister, who'd seen it. "Go," she sent back, "Even you can watch it. Not very long and very good."

Promises that "it stays busy" and "even you can watch it" are needed because, while I love action movies, I'm not a big suspense fan. I always say my nerves can't handle it. I say that a lot--I need to quit blaming my nerves and find out why some stuff just bothers me disproportionately. Anyway, long, suspenseful movies irk me.

So I saw it. A cute girl asks you, your sister recommends it, what can you do? :-)

Rather than give a synopsis, how about I offer an analysis of some of the characters with lots of exclamation points? Spoilers below.

Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson): A poor, pitiful father who is kept from having a meaningful relationship with his daughter, Kim, because of her uppity bitch of a mother, Lenore. Really, the distance between Kim and him is only partially because of his past government job which kept him from being around. Hey, he never missed a birthday and he had to sacrifice for his country!!!!

Lenore (Famke Janssen): In short, the ex-wife of every MRA. She snaps. She belittles. She's possibly a golddigger. She doesn't even want Bryan at Kim's birthday party (she wants to erase him from her daughter's life) and scoffs at his gift of a karaoke machine. But Bryan is on point; despite the fact that Lenore was a virtual single mother and still is the custodial parent, it's Bryan who knows Kim's true heart, a heart that desires to be a singer!!!!

Lenore doesn't even understand Bryan's manly need to protect. She wants her not-very-mature (see below) 17-year-old daughter to hop across Europe following U-2 (that was so unbelievable to me. Maybe it's a rich people thing?) and thinks Bryan is paranoid and controlling.

Kim (Maggie Grace): A 17-year-old. She still giggles, jumps up and down a lot, and is mega-excited over getting a pony!!!! for her birthday!!!! Why, yes I did say 17, not seven.

Jean-Claude: A typical French man. Bryan thought he was a friend, but really he's an enemy. There's a new angle.

Eastern Europeans (various actors): Shady characters who traffic in women. You know they're the bad guys because they sweat a lot, their hair is greasy, and their eyes shift. And they've had the nerve to "progress" from trafficking in eastern European women to grabbing western white women!!!!

Virginity: The thing that Kim has (she's certified pure!!!!) that keeps her from immediately meeting the fate of all the other "besmirched" girls and makes her worth more than they. While Daddy's racing against time to prevent her permanent disappearance, it's clear that he's racing to prevent the disappearance of that particular "prize" as well. I've been thinking since I saw it, "Is that what those promises at purity balls are about?"

Sheik Raman (Nabil Massad): Your standard Middle Eastern enemy. This character made me think of Bill Napoli's comment about what he thought would "really" be a horrible rape. It's as if the facts that Kim could be trafficked, forcibly addicted to drugs, and raped were not enough. I guess the writer was savvy enough to know that people always look for what women do to invite/"increase their chances" of being raped--and Kim (and Lenore) could be blamed for lying about the nature of her trip and resisting her father's warnings. I mean, Amanda did lie about her cousins' whereabouts and look what happened to her!

Casting Sheik Raman as the rapist might tug the heartstrings of those who would say, "Really, she got herself into this" because the potential perpetrator is a fat! brown! enemy. Now, that would be a horrible rape.

Now, the movie was action-packed. I can't say I was bored. But the overarching, "Father Knows Best"/"I Told You So, Lenore" theme was a bit much for me.


k8 said...

This does not sound like something I would enjoy.

Feminist Review said...

yes, I'm self-promoting, but in case you haven't, do come read our review of this flick. Seems we have a common perspective. And one that isn't getting much play in the reviews of this flick.

Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree more with this review, Elle. I just saw the movie last night, and I walked out of it feeling that I had just watched a very expensive work of MRA propoganda.

It's amazing to me that we are so desensitized to these representations of women (harping shrew; hapless, virginal victim) that this film doesn't seem to have caused a blip on the cultural radar.

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