A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.


October 6, 2011


I’m curious about this movie. I bought it because I had heard it was a cool thriller about a guy killing bad guys to rescue his daughter. I have been looking forward to seeing it for months because I just wanted to see Liam Neeson kicking bucketloads of ass. Like Danny the Dog this is a film written by Luc Besson. I think I know what to expect from such a film. Every time I’ve suggested watching it, though, Amanda has been strangely reticent. She really doesn’t want to see this movie and I’ve not been sure why.

The set up for this movie is so straight forward and simple. Liam Neeson plays Bryan Mills, a retired CIA spook who sometimes has an Irish accent and sometimes does not. He’s living a sort of sad lonely life, trying to re-connect with his teenaged daughter. She’s just turned seventeen and is spoiled rotten by her mother’s new husband who is some kind of oil magnate. His ex-wife will barely let him see the girl, though and all his memories of her are sadly out of date. She’s not the little five year old who used to want to be a singer any more. He’s just a hardened man with a mysterious history of special ops. All we really know about him is that he’s dangerous and good at what he does.

Mills has grave misgivings when his daughter tells him that she’s planning a trip to Paris. Now normally this would not be much of an issue. He is clearly overreacting. Teenagers go on trips to Paris all the time. If this were any movie but this one he would just be a paranoid and somewhat controlling absentee father. Of course that would not make much of a movie. So almost as soon as her plane lands she is abducted by a ring of Albanian sex merchants whose MO is to kidnap women, addict them to drugs and sell them into slavery. There’s no particular reason that she is targeted – she’s just a young girl on her own in Paris. It’s just bad luck.

Bad luck mostly for the Albanians. And everyone connected with them. The whole rest of the movie is just about Mills killing everybody between him and his daughter. He’s not a subtle operator. He’s an unstoppable killing machine who leaves destruction in his wake. Which is, of course, the appeal of the movie.

I can see where Amanda’s objection to the movie comes from. The world portrayed here is an ugly and brutal one that hates women. There’s no denying that every female in this movie is a victim, and the whole driving force of the film is provided by constant reminders that somewhere out there Mills’ innocent daughter is being abused in unspeakable ways. We see the horrifying fate that lies before her in no uncertain terms, and most of the other girls in this movie (who are not lucky enough to have an unstoppable CIA killer for a father) do not appear to get rescued. Dreadful and awful things are happening to women in this movie, and I can see why it makes Amanda feel angry. It also makes her angry that it is implied that these women cannot help themselves but must wait passively for a man to come along and save them.

I don’t think that is the intent of the movie though. Perhaps it’s an unfortunate implication, but it doesn’t appear to me that the fate of these women is ever portrayed in a salacious manner. It’s never meant to be erotic or appealing. It’s all there to give Mills a reason to be an uncompromising badass and to vilify the many, many people he has to kill on his mission. He’s going to maim, torture and kill just about every person he meets in this movie, and frankly you want to see this righteous vengeance meted out to these despicable, awful people.

I have to admit that for the most part I enjoyed seeing Liam Neeson kicking ass for an hour and a half. His character thinks nothing of walking into a room full of armed slimeballs and killing every one of them with his bare hands, and like I said, the folks he kills here are people you want to see killed. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that I enjoyed the movie as a whole, because the atrocities that you witness as his motivation are not fun at all, but it’s cool to see him going all Jack Bauer all over the place. I even bought that this older gentleman could easily mop the floor with all these young mobsters – he’s just so steely eyed and determined. My one complaint about Neeson would be his wandering accent. Why is an Irish ex-pat a CIA covert operator? And why, when he’s pretending to be a French police officer (speaking English for some reason) are the Albanians not even the least bit suspicious?

As we watched Amanda proposed that a gender-swapped version of the film might be more viewable. She would rather see a story about a kickass unstoppable woman killing rapists and pimps, and do you know what? I’d really like to see that movie too.

October 6, 2011 - Posted by | daily reviews | , ,

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