'Taken': Patriarchal Porn by Jonah Goldberg 13 Mar 2009 post a comment Share This: Okay, let me start by saying I really liked "Taken." If you haven't seen it, it stars Liam Neeson as an ex CIA badass who has retired so he can be near his teenage daughter. She lives with her mom (Neeson's ex-wife) and her stepfather, a rich, nice guy who you hate just because he makes Neeson look like a shmo - but not for long! Neeson's daughter is kidnapped by white slavers in Paris and Neeson is very, very serious about getting her back. You can learn all that from the trailer or the commercial, so I'll put the real spoilers below the fold. Again, I was taken with "Taken," but you can be sure that some post-modern, critical-whatever-studies types will hate this movie, what with the not-too-subtle "Death Wishy" attacks on non-Americans and the patriarchal revenge fantasy of it all. This is "Thelma and Louise" for fathers. Okay, for starters, the film starts with Neeson appearing to be a kind of loser. Life has passed him by. He lives in a sad little apartment only a few notches better than a seedy motel room. Maybe he drinks too much. Regrets: he's clearly had a few. Moreover, we learn fairly quickly that he quit his shadowy CIA work to make up for being an absentee dad and ruining his marriage. His daughter's stepfather, meanwhile, is super rich. Neeson gets his daughter a Karaoke machine for her 17th birthday. Stepdaddy Warbucks gets her a horse. Neeson looks three feet tall. She wants to go to Paris for youthful adventure. But Neeson, like all fathers, knows better. We fathers are wise. Father knows best, damn it. It's a dangerous world out there. Mom mocks him for being a smothering dork. The daughter wishes her dad could be cool like other dads. Neeson finally relents -- but only because the ex-wife and daughter lie to him about her real plans. If they hadn't failed him by lying, and instead told him the truth or listened to him everything would be ok. But no. The trouble with wives and daughters is they don't blindly follow Dads' perfect understanding of how the world works. Neeson lets her go to Paris. And, of course, within hours of landing, his daughter and her slutty blonde friend -- who seduced Daddy's little girl into going in the first place -- are snatched by brutal Albanian white slavers. It's the mother of "I told you so" moments. But fathers never get to enjoy such moments because we always have to fix the problems that inevitably arise when our women don't listen. Indeed, Daddy's little girl is actually on the phone with him when the kidnapping takes place. Daddy tells her to calm down and if she follows his instructions he will come to the rescue (with a supersized can of whup-ass, the audience immediately understands). The girl, who is absolutely useless save as metaphor for how girls should always listen to their fathers, follows daddy's instructions while being kidnapped - giving him seemingly meaningless, but in reality, vital clues to her abductors' identities -- and that's all he'll need to save the day. Suddenly the soft, rich stepdad is useless except when he too recognizes Neeson's mad badass skills. After one quick dressing down about whose you-know-what is bigger, the stepdad does the only thing he's good at: he opens his wallet. Neeson might as well just say, "Get me a plane, Poindexter." Neeson goes to Paris. He quickly works his way through the handsome young man (they can never be trusted!) who tricked the girls at the airport. He kills the small army of swarthy Albanians who took the girls (with some really gratuitous torture, as well). And eventually he slaughters Arabs and even another fancy pants rich American. He more than bitch slaps an old (French!) colleague who had the effrontery not to follow Neeson's orders, but who is also a careerist sell-out who only managed to keep his family together by compromising his principles (something Neeson would never do!). In other words, not only is it payback time for anyone who would dare violate his little girl, it's payback time against anyone who might think they're better than Neeson. The trampy friend who was abducted with Daddy's girl? She's dead from an overdose - serves her right for not staying a virgin! Meanwhile, Daddy's girl has been sold to high-rent pimps who at least understand the value of staying pure. Neeson rescues his daughter and kills lots and lots of people in the process, proving that he didn't waste his life. After all, Stepdaddy Warbucks could never have rescued her. The film closes with the wife all but declaring with her eyes, "You are a real man, not like my castrated ATM machine of a husband," and, in the very last scene, Daddy makes it possible for the little girl to fulfill her real dream of becoming a singer (Neeson had saved a Britney Spears type singer's life earlier in the movie and now, like the mouse who pulled the thorn from the lion's paw, she returns the favor by bringing real happiness to his daughter). It is an absolutely brilliant film. If that's your kind of thing.