Overall Grade: C+
Starring: Liam Neeson, Famke Janssen and Maggie Grace.
Moral of the story for teenage and college girls:
Don't go to dirty, gang-ridden, corrupt Paris for vacation. Stay in Los Angeles ... where it's safe.
What's going on:
An absentee father quits his job as a CIA "preventer" to get to know his 17-year-old daughter. She guilt-trips him into letting her go to Paris with her friend. When they arrive they are "taken" and daddy must use his "highly specialized skills" to save the day. Sort of.
Reasons this movie is great:
1. A horse upstages Liam Neeson.
2. Singing stardom is as simple as saving a pop-tart diva from certain scarring.
3. All the Eastern European guys wear dark mascara to make them look more menacing.
4. Enemies are numbered. "Is everything ok, No. 3?"
5. Virginity = Survival.
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6. One villain is a giant, fat pervert.
Why it earned a C+:
Neeson's background as a 6-foot-4-inch out-of-work operative hero sets the pace for this romp through Paris' sleazy alleys and construction sites. You are shown enough of his talent before the story really gets going -- he's a whiz at gift-wrapping -- to believe that he can take down the entire city if necessary. But when he starts putting his expertise to use, this gunfire flick almost mimics a documentary about the world's most accurate, skilled and lucky agent.
Nothing ever seems to go wrong -- ignoring, of course, the fact that his daughter is in danger -- and even when it does, he just waves it off with a conveniently placed loose pipe or a fresh dead body. And only the hero can shoot his gun properly. If I were head of a mafia with a loan low-grade goon working for me, I would have paid the extra 60 cents an hour and procured some good ones. In this case, the career bad men are incapable of taking down a retired 56-year-old. So, by convention, Neeson's character is the type that could beat the villain in an hour, but the film goes on for nearly two. It's like an experienced video gamer playing his favorite game -- he strolls through every level because he knows exactly where to aim the gun.
So while Neeson takes each turn as if it were all written out beforehand on a Parisian map -- thank you, writers -- shooting and torture gives the film enough oomph to make it worth watching if all you wanted to see was a decent action movie.
Contact staff writer Jordan Trippeer at firstname.lastname@example.org
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