Tag Archives: taken

Top Ten Movies for 2009

Here they are!

My favorite movies of the past year. I still have a few I want to watch, so (thorughout January) I reserve the right to juggle.

  1. Star TrekWonderful adaption. The best adaptatiotns remain just faithful enough to the source material, but still manage to offer up a few surprises. By far the best Star Trek movie of the bunch, but a potent adaptation in its own right.
  2. Inglorious BasterdsFun to watch, fun to mull over. Once you see it, it’s hard to understand why all WW2 pictures don’t end this way. Now one of my favorite Tarantino pictures.
  3. District 9 – I loved the inventive transformation of the main character. An ugly little man becomes a humane alien.
  4. Sherlock Holmes – Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law have a lot of chemistry as Holmes and Watson.
  5. Fantastic Mr. Fox – Subversive little movie with a lot of heart. I liked the father son relationship. I liked how the boy struggled to be seen by his Dad. I liked how Dad was blinded by his own needs. But most of all I liked watching these characters make the best of their own limitations. “Cluster-cuss!”
  6. Hurt Locker – The most powerful scene shows Sgt James (Jeremy Renner), who has just returned from a horrifying tour in Iraq, wandering through the supermarket with his wife, staring at a wall of cereal, just before he reenlists. Fascinating portrayal of a smart guy who really has no clue what’s motivating him.
  7. AvatarBeautiful movie, engaging if familiar story.
  8. WatchmanBold and original.
  9. Julie & Julia – Meryl Streep is so much fun to watch. Stanley Tucci is a joy.
  10. Taken An episode of 24 but with Liam Neeson.

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Taken is a revenge flick about an ex-CIA spook who has to rescue his daughter from the clutches of an Albanian prostitution ring. Critics have compared it to an episode of 24, which is an apt description: there are plenty of innocents mowed down in the interest of expedient justice and there is a time limit (96 hours) driving the plot.

The problem with this type movie is that it’s hard to justify a Jack Bauer type character this far from 9/11 and this close to Abu Ghraib. Maybe it’s just the first time I’ve noticed this sort of thing, but this movie seems to go further than any other I’ve seen to put the viewer at ease with its politics. It’s like how in first person shooter video games the bad guys are always the types of characters it’s okay to kill: zombies, Nazis, or aliens. In Taken, we have Albanian mafia guys and innocent French nationals. Our hero just shot an innocent woman in the arm, but it’s okay because she’s French and (as Liam Neeson says, defending himself to the husband of the woman he just shot), “It’s just a flesh wound!” I can kind of understand Albanian mafia, but it’s harder to wrap my head around innocent French nationals, unless it’s more fallout from the French resistance to US invasion of Iraq (freedom fries, anyone?).

They play up the angle of the father trying atone for a lifetime of absenteeism. Toward the end of the picture, Liam has been coming on like a steamroller, and the bad guy asks, “Who is this guy?” For an answer, the boss hears, “It’s the girl’s father,” which is true enough, but considering what the “girl’s father” has just done to the lair, it’s like the understatement of the century.

Hard for me not to like this movie, but it was definitely a guilty pleasure.

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