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Posted: February 18, 2009 12:01 a.m.

Taken, not stirred

Pierre Morel’s "Taken" is a fast-paced, butt-kickin’ thriller akin to the Bourne Trilogy. While not as intelligently written as the Bourne films, Liam Neeson’s ("Batman Begins") resolute performance as a former undercover agent allows audiences to imagine that this is how an older Jason Bourne would react if his daughter had been kidnapped overseas.

The story begins with Bryan Mills (Neeson) trying to keep himself occupied after retiring from a long career as some sort of super-spy (we never really find out exactly what he did). His daughter, Kim, played by Maggie Grace (‘The Fog’) turns 17 and asks if she can go with a friend to Paris for the summer.

Mills’ ex-wife, played by Famke Janssen ("X-Men: The Last Stand"), basically guilts him into allowing their daughter to go. For "Nip/Tuck" fans and X-Men fans, it is hard to remember Janssen is not a she-male and she does not have super powers. But, she does do a pretty good job as the witchy ex.

Once in Paris, Kim and her friend are snatched by an Albanian sex trade organization, but not before daddy-dearest hears the whole abduction on the phone. This incident spurs the old agent in him and he proceeds on a violent quest to save his daughter. Trust me, this guy means business.

While Jason Bourne was confused about his super-human strength and ability to speak foreign languages, Mills knows exactly what he is doing. Neeson’s performance should be an inspiration to all aging actors that kickin’ tail and taking names can still be in the cards for them after 50.

I’ll warn you the ending is a bit cliché, but fits within the plot of the movie.

Those of us who remember Neeson as the gross ghost in 1988’s "High Spirits," will say he’s certainly come a long way as an actor. He was really the only memorable character in "Taken" — probably because of his commanding brogue.

This movie is a fun action movie for a generally awful time at the box office. It is certainly worth a watch for anyone who is a fan of the genre — that is, unless they have a teenage daughter they are sending abroad this summer.

Grade: A-

Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence, disturbing thematic material, sexual content, some drug references and language. 91 minutes long.

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