| Oscar nominee Liam Neeson (“Schindler’s List,” “Kinsey” and “Batman Begins”) trades his usual brainy dramatic characters for a lead role as an unstoppable killing machine in this action thriller.
Bryan Mills (Neeson) took early retirement from the CIA so he could live near his 17-year-old daughter, Kim (Maggie Grace from “Lost”). Kim lives in a world of luxury with her mother, Lenore (Dutch beauty Famke Janssen who played Jean Grey/Phoenix in the “X-Men franchise), and her rich stepfather, Stuart. She wants to take a European vacation with her teenage friend Amanda and follow the popular rock band U2 on tour. She needs parental permission to leave the country.
Kim lies to Bryan by telling him that they are only going to Paris to stay with her friend’s relatives. Although not comfortable with putting her at risk in a dangerous world, he reluctantly agrees. He makes her promise to call him when she lands and every night before she goes to bed.
These gullible young gals make their biggest mistake when they agree to share a taxi from the airport with a young man named Peter. He turns out to be a spotter for an Albanian criminal ring involved in white slave trade trafficking.
While her friend is being abducted, Kim gives her dad critical information by cell phone about everything she sees before she too is kidnapped.
He tells one of the thugs that he possesses a unique set of skills that make him a nightmare. The suspense is ratcheted up as Bryan flies to Paris and sets off on a trail to find his daughter. He has only a 96-hour window before she becomes a drug-addicted sex object who drops off the radar and disappears forever.
French mega-producer/screenwriter Luc Besson (“The Transporter.” “The Professional” and “La Femme Nikita”) and veteran cinematographer-turned-director Pierre Morel (“District B13”) know how to build the tension and satisfy a predominantly male audience with fast editing, death-defying stunt work and top-notch action choreography.
Neeson, looking extremely fit at age 55, is believable as a crime-fighting hero cut from the same mold as James Bond, Jason Bourne and Rambo. He instantly has the audience on his side pulling for him to save the day and rescue his virginal daughter from harm. He leaves a high body count in his wake, knocking off bad guys like they were pins in a bowling alley.
His best line, delivered in a serious baritone voice, is “I’ll tear down the Eiffel Tower if I have to!”
The movie takes bloodthirsty violence to adrenaline overload levels with the usual assortment of hand-to-hand combat, gunfights, pyrotechnic explosions, gruesome torture, implausible escapes and high-octane car chases.
Bryan is able to think rapidly on his feet and piece together the clues to this mystery.
This briskly paced movie delivers a full payload of action and leaves you mentally exhausted. You immediately recall the famous line from “The Wizard of Oz” that “There is no place like home.”
After sitting through this movie, Americans may prefer to see the U.S.A. in a Chevrolet rather than taking a chance traveling overseas.
Did you know that Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin didn’t even apply for a passport until she was age 42?
Partially in French, Albanian and Arabic with English subtitles.
Keith Cohen, "The Movie Guy"