Monday, January 12, 2009

HVO: 'Taken', 'Traitor', and 'Seeing Other People'


TAKEN (DVD 2008, action thriller)
Cast: Liam Neeson, Maggie Grace, Famke Janssen, Leland Orser, Jon Gries and Holly Valance
Director: Pierre Morel

Time: 91 mins

Rating: * * 1/2 (2.5/4 stars)

AT an age when he should be playing granddads, Liam Neeson (pic) takes on the role of an action hero!
All we can say is "Eatcha hear out, Harrison Ford!"

Neeson plays Bryan Mills, a retired CIA operative who moves to Los Angeles in a bid to to piece
together his broken family. His wife Lenore (Famke Janssen) has left him and remarried a millionaire (Xander Berkeley) and he’s all but a stranger to his 17 year-old daughter Kim (Maggie Grace). He finds the only way to reconnect with her and make peace with his ex-wife is to go against his better judgment and allow for Kim to travel to France with her girlfriend Amanda (Katie Cassidy).

However, shortly after landing in Paris, Kim and her friend are kidnapped by Albanians to be sold as
sexual playthings to the fabulously rich and the insanely powerful. Now, Daddy must use all the smarts he has to rescue his girl from the baddies - even if it includes taking Paris apart!

Yeah, this is a 'Rambo-in-Paris' caper that should appeal to all the parents watching the DVD. A bit of the proverbial salt is recommended to buy all that gungho stuff our aged hero does in this somewhat fantasy action flick. Still, we just gotta cheer for the 50-plus Neeson, especially the way he handles the stunts.


(DVD 2008, spy thriller)

Cast: Don Cheadle, Guy Pearce, Neal McDonough, Jeff Daniels, Said Taghmaoui and Archie Panjabi
Director: Jeffrey Nachmanoff
(based on a story by Steve Martin and Nachmanoff)
Time: 115 mins

Rating: * * * (3 stars out of 4)

THOSE who have been disappointed with the star-studded 'Lions For Lambs' will find this one fulfulling where action on the War on Terror is concerned. The story is rivetting and intelligent, and there are enough twists and expose to keep us enthralled.

'Traitor' is about Samir Horn (Don Cheadle), a Sudanese who witnesses his father being blown up by a car bomb. Years later, he is captured by FBI agents (Guy Pearce and Neal McDonough) wile trying to deliver detonators in Yemen. Who is this Samir? A terrorist, a spy, or undercover agent?
When we discover who he really is, the action turns to a seat-gripping attempt by the 'good guys' to stop a terrorist attack on US soil.

Cheadle does a credible job of fleshing out Samir both as a devout Muslim and a man with a mission. There is also a bit of love interest - in the form of a pretty woman played by Archie Panjabi. The ending is a little too neat, but another surprise awaits us in the credits: the story is co-written by comedian Steve Martin together with director Nachmanoff!


(DVD, 2004 production, comedy)

Cast: Jay Mohr, Julianne Nicholson, Josh Charles, Lauren Graham, Andy Richter and Helen Slater

Director: Wally Wolodarsky

Time: 90 mins

Rating: * * * (3 stars)

THIS comedy starts off with a rather down-to-earth proposition: engaged yuppie couple (Jay Mohr and Julianne Nicholson) decide they should 'screw around' with other people before they commit to each other when they get married. Alice came to this decision when she and her sister and Claire (Graham) catch a guest and a waiter doing the nasty during a party.

At first, Ed is uncomfortable
with the idea of someone mucking around with his fiancee, but when she insists, he soon 'gets into the action' and human nature takes over.

The movie benefits from a good cast. Mohr typifies the confused American male while Nicholson reminds us of a woman who wants the cake and eat it. There is chemistry between the two. Graham and Bryan Cranston play a couple whose marriage is already on the rocks - as a reflection of what Ed and Alice's relationship may be like if they were to long for 'forbidden fruit' when they are married. What's more, the movie is both funny and engaging.


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