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HTF BLU-RAY REVIEW: Taken - Extended Cut



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#1 of 23 Matt Hough

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Posted May 18 2009 - 10:02 AM



Taken: Extended Cut (Blu-ray)
Directed by Pierre Morel

Studio: Twentieth Century-Fox
Year: 2009
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:11080pAVC codec
Running Time: 91/93 minutes
Rating: PG-13/NR
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 English; Dolby Digital 5.1 Spanish, French
Subtitles: English, Spanish
Region: A
MSRP: $ 39.99

Release Date: May 12, 2009
Review Date: May 18, 2009


The Film

4/5

If Jason Bourne lives to middle age and has a daughter who grows into a late teen and is subsequently kidnapped, he might have an adventure retrieving her that’s something akin to Pierre Morel’s Taken. A fast paced, stop-for-nothing thriller, Taken is a definite rush, a hit of cinematic speed that almost never pauses to catch its breath. Too breakneck in pace to worry about plot abnormalities, Taken is an action movie lover’s nirvana.

Not happy about his seventeen year old daughter Kim’s (Maggie Grace) abrupt decision to jet to Europe on a fun-filled odyssey following U2 around the continent, ex-CIA operative Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) is horrified to hear his daughter’s abduction over the telephone hours upon her arrival in Paris. Using his extensive know-how in undercover operations and calling in favors from a host of operatives on both sides of the Atlantic, Bryan makes his way through the Albanian mob in a desperate search-and-destroy mission to find his kidnapped child.

With something of the same desperate tone as Roman Polanski’s Frantic but with the film incorporating the super spy skills of a Jason Bourne or James Bond (without the quips and elaborate overproduced stunts), Taken is a stripped-for-action thriller that takes no prisoners. Some may find director Pierre Morel’s pacing and razor-edged cutting almost cartoonish in its frantic, pile-driving style (akin to The Transporter on which he served as director of photography), but others (including me) will find it edge-of-your-seat riveting. The closest thing to a Bond sequence is a race through a rock quarry though there are street pursuits, too, and there are some torture scenes also as the overwrought Mills repeatedly comes up empty with each new place of discovery. Through it all, the spare dialog moments come only when physical violence hasn’t done its job. But this isn’t much a film for talk; it’s an action-packed jolt meant to bring an adrenaline rush to those who want to buckle up and hang on.

Liam Neeson is perfectly cast as the serious-minded father who’s slowly losing his family and is willing to go to any lengths to retain the piece of it he still can claim. Maggie Grace plays the spoiled daughter a bit younger than the seventeen years suggested in the script (the actress herself is older making her performance doubly problematic), and Framke Janssen as the too-accommodating mother convinces in a smaller role. Olivier Rabourdin as a former French intelligence operative who has moved up to a desk job has a couple of very entertaining sequences with Neeson as the two acquaintances sour toward one another trying to outflank the other without ceding control.


Video Quality

4.5/5

The film’s 2.40:1 theatrical aspect ratio is presented in 1080p using the AVC codec. Sharpness is exemplary in the transfer, and color saturation and depth are wonderfully delivered. Blacks are excellently presented with outstanding shadow detail. Contrast is solid though flesh tones have a tendency of varying from warmly lifelike to a bit too hot. There are no digital artifacts to spoil the wonderfully dimensional image offered here. The film has been divided into 24 chapters.

Audio Quality

5/5

The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound mix is everything one would expect from a modern action thriller. A wide soundstage immerses the viewer in sound, and discreet audio from all available channels keeps the viewer’s heart thumping on cue, accentuated by sporadic bursts of deep bass from the LFE channel. One’s only complaint is that the film is so brief by modern action movie standards that it’s frustrating that such expert sound design is over so quickly.


Special Features

3/5

The Blu-ray offers two audio commentaries. The first features director Pierre Morel, cinematographer Michel Abramowicz, and stunt supervisor Michel Julienne speaking in French (translated in italicized subtitles) about the movie. Screenwriter Robert Mark Kamen speaks sporadically on the other commentary track about the original script and the changes necessitated during the filming. It is possible to hear one commentary while reading the subtitles of the other one at the same time.

“Black OPS Field Manual” is a BonusView PIP feature which offers pop-up facts during the picture and a drop-down meter that keeps track of how many people have been killed and wounded and how many kilometers have been traveled during the course of the film.

The Blu-ray disc offers the choice of the original 91-minute theatrical cut of the movie or the 93 ½-minute unrated extended cut. The commentaries are only available with the extended cut.

“Le Making of” is an 18 ½-minute documentary on the history of the film’s production featuring director Pierre Morel, producer Luc Besson, and stars Liam Neeson and Maggie Grace in separate interviews. It’s in 480p.

“Avant Premiere” is a brief 4 ¾-minute montage of clips from the Paris premiere of the film with the director and star taking the stage after the screening. It’s in 480p.

“Inside Action” features six scenes from the movie which can be watched in comparison split-screen showing the actual shooting of the sequence and the finished product as it appears in the movie. The six scenes can be viewed individually or in one 11-minte chunk. It’s in 480p.

The disc offers a 1080p trailer of Notorious. The trailer for Taken is not on the disc.

Disc two in the set is the digital copy of the movie with instructions for installation on both Mac and PC devices.


In Conclusion

4/5 (not an average)

Taken is an exhilarating popcorn thrill ride. Barely an hour and a half long, its breakneck pacing and suspenseful cat-and-mouse strategizing makes it an easy recommend for action fans.



Matt Hough
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#2 of 23 cafink

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Posted May 18 2009 - 11:41 AM

Thank you for the review.

This film looks interesting and I look forward to checking it out.

I'm very pleased to hear that both the theatrical and extended cuts are included. Which would you recommend for a first-time viewer?
 

 


#3 of 23 Ron-P

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Posted May 18 2009 - 01:17 PM

Borrowed the Blu from a coworker today, looking very forward to watching it tonight.
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#4 of 23 Robert Crawford

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Posted May 18 2009 - 01:23 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by cafink
Thank you for the review.

This film looks interesting and I look forward to checking it out.

I'm very pleased to hear that both the theatrical and extended cuts are included. Which would you recommend for a first-time viewer?
I liked the extended cut better, but there is only a 3 minute or so difference.

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#5 of 23 TravisR

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Posted May 18 2009 - 03:11 PM

Don't quote me but I think the extended cut is the original/European version of the movie. It was edited to get a PG-13 in the U.S.

#6 of 23 Michael Elliott

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Posted May 18 2009 - 03:17 PM

Travis is right.

My girlfriend and I watched the movie Saturday and both of us really enjoyed it. I thought Neeson was brilliant and even though several parts of the story were far fetched, the actor was just so damn good you overlooked the flaws and just went along for the ride. Fans of this might always want to check out BREAKDOWN, the 1997 film.

#7 of 23 cafink

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Posted May 18 2009 - 04:07 PM

Breakdown has always been a favorite of mine. I think I'll have to bump this one up in the queue.
 

 


#8 of 23 Ron-P

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Posted May 18 2009 - 04:48 PM

Too bad this was PG-13, much more potential if they went for an R. Good action flick for sure. Nothing worth owning as the rewatch factor is not there but wow, what an assault on the senses, great Blu disc.
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#9 of 23 Brent M

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Posted May 18 2009 - 05:11 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ron-P
Too bad this was PG-13, much more potential if they went for an R.

That potential is shown in the Extended Cut. There's some pretty hardcore violence in that version of the film. Personally, this flick was one of the year's great surprises for me as I wasn't expecting it to be anywhere near as good as it was. I highly recommend the film as well as the great picture and sound quality of the Blu-Ray. Posted Image
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#10 of 23 Ron-P

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Posted May 18 2009 - 05:18 PM

I watched the EC.
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#11 of 23 Sam Posten

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Posted May 19 2009 - 01:55 AM

Loved the film in the theater, my parents wanna know who is piloting the boat at the end tho!

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#12 of 23 Robert Crawford

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Posted May 19 2009 - 02:24 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ron-P
I watched the EC.
Then you watched the R rated version.

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#13 of 23 Ron-P

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Posted May 19 2009 - 04:36 AM

The ending was the worst part, it really didn't fit in with the rest of the film.

As for the EC being the "R" rated version, it was pretty tame for an "R" then as it still felt PG-13. I'll have to watch the theatrical to see what the differences were.
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#14 of 23 Doug Schiller

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Posted May 19 2009 - 04:39 AM

I have seen the european version and it still seems to be filmed with PG13 in mind.
The scenes extended would still garner an R rating but there is still plenty of that Die Hard 4, lots of gunfire but no blood scenes that make it obvious to what they are doing.

Of all the extended cuts I have seen, only Pearl Harbor was beleivable to me as an "original vision".

#15 of 23 juda

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Posted May 19 2009 - 04:45 AM

Awesome review, I have seen the film & I agree with the review overall

#16 of 23 Robert Crawford

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Posted May 19 2009 - 08:37 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ron-P
The ending was the worst part, it really didn't fit in with the rest of the film.

As for the EC being the "R" rated version, it was pretty tame for an "R" then as it still felt PG-13. I'll have to watch the theatrical to see what the differences were.
Tame to you, but you're not the board making the ratings because otherwise, based on runtime, it doesn't make any sense why the EC version wasn't released here.




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#17 of 23 Ron-P

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Posted May 19 2009 - 02:07 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert Crawford
Tame to you
That's exactly what I posted.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert Crewford
but you're not the board making the ratings...
That's quite obvious.

I really don't understand why the director even bothers adding less then 2 minutes of additional footage, why? Most of the reviews I've read, it's quite difficult to see the difference. I'll find out as I plan to watch the theatrical tonight. But seriously, add a decent amount of additional footage or don't bother.
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#18 of 23 TravisR

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Posted May 19 2009 - 02:56 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ron-P
I really don't understand why the director even bothers adding less then 2 minutes of additional footage, why?
He didn't add it. That footage was originally there and deleted so they could get a PG-13. It's now back to the original version rather than the (usually) horrible practice dumping every deleted scene back into a movie just so they can say "15 minutes of new explosive footage!!!!" on the cover of the disc.

#19 of 23 Ron-P

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Posted May 19 2009 - 05:52 PM

Thanks Travis, that I did not know.
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#20 of 23 Robert Crawford

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Posted May 20 2009 - 01:27 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by TravisR
He didn't add it. That footage was originally there and deleted so they could get a PG-13. It's now back to the original version rather than the (usually) horrible practice dumping every deleted scene back into a movie just so they can say "15 minutes of new explosive footage!!!!" on the cover of the disc.
That's right. The Extended Cut is how the director wanted the film to be seen, unfortunately the US wasn't able to see that version until now due to the PG13 versus R rating issue.

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