Who’s In It: Liam Neeson, Famke Janssen, Maggie Grace
The Basics: Ex-CIA special ops guy Liam Neeson is retired and itchy for action. So when his teen-virgin (the movie flat-out tells you this) daughter is kidnapped in Paris and sold into sex slavery, that totally makes his day. So he jets off to France and kills about a hundred people in increasingly awesome ways until he finds his little girl.
What’s The Deal: Have you ever eaten an entire family-size bag of potato chips at one clip? Sure, we all have. And though you know it will make for some gnarly gastrointestinal distress and heart blockages later, you just keep on shoveling them in because they’re SO DELICIOUS. That’s this movie: stupid, empty, impossible, even politically reactionary. But it’s so awesome to see Liam Neeson taking out the trash in pursuit of his prized child that you don’t stop to think about what you’re really ingesting. Good thing movies can’t cholesterol you to death or there’d be theaters full of heart attacks going on.
Yes, I Said Politically Reactionary: Every bad guy is foreign. Even the baddest guy—who has an American accent—still has a French name. They’re Eastern European thugs or Western European effete rich people or Middle Eastern cousins-of-terrorists and they ALL HAVE TO DIE RIGHT NOW in order for the white girl’s virginity to remain intact. (My viewing companion and I renamed it Not Without My Daughter’s Hymen.) And if some torture has to happen to get the job done then that’s okay because this movie proves definitively that advanced interrogation techniques are a working, effective, viable option when you need accurate information from an Albanian sex-slave trader.
Best Parts: Watching twentysomething Maggie Grace pretend to be a 17-year-old in silly little dresses, acting like a developmentally challenged kindergartener running around spazzily with her arms waving in the air. Seriously. And then you find out that her trip to Paris with a friend is all about how she wants to, get this, follow U2 around on tour across Europe. Why not just make her a Herman’s Hermits fan while you’re at it?
Nagging Casting And Plot Questions: Am I just that over-aware of the too-skinniness of nearly every actor in Hollywood or is Liam Neeson kind of gaunt and thin to play a guy who needs to be such a badass? He takes out villains like a bulldozer in this movie but doesn’t seem to possess the muscle required. And another thing—if you go to another country without any sort of authorization and you start mowing people down, wouldn’t that cause a teensy tiny international incident? Is his subsequent murder trial being saved for the sequel? And finally, if this guy can find his daughter in the murky sex-slavery underworld just by pinpointing her from a cell phone call, then why didn't he get assigned to find Bin Laden too?