A frustratingly not-terrible action thriller.
If CIA agents in general were as skilled as Bryan Mills in particular, Osama bin Laden would have been an American prisoner since late September 2001. "Taken" shows Mills as a one-man rescue squad, a master of every skill, a laser-eyed, sharpshooting, pursuit-driving, pocket-picking, impersonating, knife-fighting, torturing, karate-fighting killing machine who can cleverly turn over a petrol tank with one pass in his car and strategically ignite it with another.
We meet Mills (Liam Neeson) in "sort of retirement" in Los Angeles, grilling steaks with old CIA buddies and yearning to spend more time with his 17-year-old daughter, Kim (Maggie Grace). Kim now lives with her mom, Mills' ex-wife (Famke Janssen), and her effortlessly mega-rich husband (Xander Berkeley), whose idea of a birthday present is giving Kim not a pony, but what looks like a thoroughbred.
Mills has seen action in Afghanistan and apparently everywhere else, and knows it's a dangerous world for a naive teenage girl. He is against Kim spending the summer in Paris with her girlfriend, even though "cousins" will apparently chaperone. He's right. Kim and her pal succeed in getting themselves kidnapped the afternoon of the same day they get off the plane, although Kim has time for one terrified phone call to Dad before she's taken away.
Now listen to this. Using CIA contacts at Langley, Mills is able to use his garbled tape of their conversation to determine the name of his girl's kidnapper (Marko), that he is Albanian, that his ring kidnaps young tourists, drugs them and runs them as prostitutes; the virgins are auctioned off to Arab sheiks and so on. Headquarters also tells Mills he has 96 hours to rescue his daughter before she meets a fate worse than death, followed by death.