Thursday, February 12, 2009

Addendum to Taken review

A conversation with a friend has suggested to me that I need to add the following addendum to my review of Taken:

My problem was not the violence, per se, or the fact that it dealt with the sexuality, per se. It was the fact that it, in my view, didn't bother to deal seriously with what is one of the absolute most serious issues that exists in the world today. Regarding the violence, it wasn't the fact that it was violent, it was the way the violence was treated - as something purely cool, instead of something necessary, and (in my opinion) as a point of vengeance, instead of as a point of justice. I think one can reasonably hold the (good) alternative view that his killing was necessary - but the movie didn't seem to do that, at least from my perspective.

Overall, my great frustration with the movie is that people don't take sexual slavery seriously. The problem I had with the sexuality here was not that it was overly gratuitous - there has certainly been far worse in Hollywood and even in movies that I've seen - but that instead of dealing with it to show the horror, it was just there. It read exploitatively to me. I wanted the subject to be treated with the horror and the revulsion and the anger - no, rage - that it deserves. I wanted Brian Mills to care - at all - about all the other girls there, and there wasn't even a hint of that in the movie. Even had he decided it wasn't something he could handle all by himself, even had he decided that he simply had to save his daughter and go, it would have played far better. But we weren't even told that he felt this way - much less shown it. The movie itself quietly highlights this in that we never find out the fate of the girl he rescues along the way. She's left in a hotel room by Brian Mills - and the movie leaves here there, too. I think my reaction would have been much less strong had that not been so, had it been clear that he cared about her as a person rather than as a means to an end.

I think my problem can be ultimately summed up by saying that while I don't have a problem with the movie as a father-saves-his-daughter-from-a-terrible-fate movie, I have huge problem with it as a dealing-with-the-issue-of-sexual-slavery movie, because no one's eyes are going to be opened by this.

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