I used to love the movie “Taken” that stars Liam Neeson Famke Janssen and Maggie Grace. This “secret CIA agent” who is also a father and who leaves his “cool and macho” job to be with his daughter who is now distant from him. The only crime that Bryan Mills (played by Liam Neeson) is guilty of is that he is a true patriot and he loves his family too much. Sigh! Sounds perfect, doesn’t it? And to think that his wife would dump him despite all these awesome traits sure does seem like a gold digger, because in the movie she has “moved on” to another husband who is loving, caring and ofcourse rich! At the end, what we see is that when the family goes through a traumatic experience, it is Bryan’s macho skills that could “save” his daughter from flesh trade, and not money. And just see to what length Bryan Mills goes about protecting his daughter, wow! Impressive…. Lesson learnt… always listen to Daddy.
This is how I see the movie now:
An over smart guy who willingly put his country before his family (which is FINE) but then later seeking sympathy implicitly from friends, about how his wife left him and how distant his daughter has become. Well, what did you expect…if you planned not to be around, then why marry and make another person’s life complicated? Moreover, the wife remarried a rich man who comes across as a sweet person and whom even the daughter has taken a liking for. But what we see later is that, the sweet rich guy eventually will be a bad guy (as shown in Taken 2) and Lenore has to come back running to her first husband who never treated her like that. So its all about how the woman made bad choices. Also, the movie shows the mother being careless in her decisions with respect to her daughter – allowing her to tour Europe with her friend etc. But if you see the probability of what happened, she has made an informed choice and it is less of carelessness and more of drama that the movie tries to emphasis, and that the “man” is always right. Ultimately the movie shows the mother and daughter warming up to the father because apparently that’s what you need in a father- love and machoness. And it is not just his amazing skills that saved his daughter, it was the rich man’s money too! But that gets side-lined. Also, the way Bryan Mills is shown to be “protective” of his daughter- in reality seems creepy, paranoid and controlling.
I went online to see if other people have actually written about this gendered take on the movie and I found this blog, which calls this movie Racist, sexist and insane. I think I agree with that author.