Saturday, 20 September 2008


Exhilaration with modest substance...

As an ex-government special ops unit, or 'preventer', Bryan (Liam Neeson)is living his retirement years in hope of being more involved in the life of his 17-year-old daughter, Kim (Maggie Grace). While overprotective, and somewhat paranoid, of his daughter's well-being due to the severity of his past career, Bryan reluctantly allows Kim to travel with a friend to Paris. However the trip proves disastrous as both Kim and her friend are kidnapped by Albanian sex-traffickers.

The story unfolds in a very mechanistic manner and as such also plays out in a linear and expected fashion. This does not make for a lesser story, but it does feel too conservative for the film in its entirety, and the end result is a film which lacks the complexities which the themes explored involve. Still it is entertaining and thankfully never falters, though some events are somewhat out of realism's grasp. By the film's end, Taken has a profound impact due to its subject matter. Nothing is overly explicit and the theme of the sex-trade is not dealt with meticulous realism, but it is captured well enough to make it seem tangible. Half the reason is due to the the directors ability to make the characters appeal on a personal level.

Bryan's concern for his daughter is touching, though perhaps a little overbearing first. But when danger comes to Kim, Bryan no longer appears to have any fault: he was right in his judgement. This is not a problem, but in fact a keen reminder of the role a parent plays in their child's life. Neeson plays the role, for the most part, quite convincingly. He shows some genuine concern, and when faced with the task of an action role, Neeson kicks into gear with a riveting performance. However there are moments where he comes across as mundane, and not totally involved with his character. Maggie Grace and Famke Janssen play adequate supporting roles with both showing believable emotion at the dire and horrifying situation the character Kim finds herself in. Though it must said that Maggie has a very strange way of running that can seem rather bothersome; perhaps that is he way of running, as weird as it looks, or maybe she was an ill choice to play a 17-year old.

While an integral theme is that revolving around the idea of sex, there is none shown in the film. Nudity is also not shown though some women come close. Language is almost non-existent though blasphemy does appear every once and a while. The film is quite strong on violence, though it is neither gory or bloody. Fights involve mainly hand-to-hand combat with a healthy does of gunfire. It is all quite engaging and exciting to watch, with Byran coming across as a more complete and violent version of Jason Bourne or the rebooted James Bond.

As perhaps gathered, the film is not exactly realistic though it is the sort of film which could and deserves to be so if it wishes to rank among the best of cinema. This aside, Taken is a thoroughly enjoyable film with intense action, marred by a few inconsistencies and lack of foresight into the film's overall image.


Screen date: 20 September 2008
Release date: 12 September 2008

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Rock On!!

A new and high point in Bollywood filmmaking...

Starting up a rock band by the name of Magik, four friends have the dream of shooting to stardom with their rock music. When this dream never sees the light of day, the band split and has little contact with each other member. After 10 years, their lives become interwoven once more and the decision is made to attempt to reunite the bonds of the past.

The story is presented in an intriguing fashion jumping from the past to the present at will, but it never becomes distracting. This change goes to compliment the film in many ways. Not only does it make the viewing more interesting, but it helps to better understand the emotional and mental struggles of the main characters. The two most notable are Aditiya (Farhan Akhtar) and Joe (Arjun Rampal), with the former leading a prosperous life as a business man while the latter is barely able to make ends meet. The film is relatively easy to understand throughout but that doesn't mean it lacks the depth. There is a great sense of duality and confliction which arises as the film evolves. However the film can be seen to be a tad optimistic about certain factors of life, though it is nothing detrimental to the film as a whole, especially when the film has some melancholic moments. There is also a factor overlooked in the story: when the band attempts to reunite it appears to have no effect on the busy lives of those involved in the business world, notably Aditiya, with a similar social problem only affecting Joe.

There is a minor problem in regards to the English subtitling whereby spoken English is incorrectly subtitled, at one point even changing what was said entirely, though it was an unimportant scene of dialogue.

On the acting side, the actors perform quite well. Rock On!! marks Akhtar's acting debut after success with script writing and directing, and he adds another skill to his growing list of talents, even that of singing. He is well suited with strong presence next to Rampal who plays a more delicate role. They both play off one another extremely well and the chemistry between both shows whether in normal interaction or when the band is performing on stage. But this is not to say that both remain constant opposites of one another, for both have these subtle moments when they reverse characteristics, but it so dependent on the situation and goes to show the complex structure of the characters themselves, with character development being apparent, though perhaps not as much as one would hope. The remainder of the cast aids both main actors successfully creating a very believable context for the film.

The core highlight of Rock On!! is its musical score. It you enjoyed the snippet provided by the preview then you are bound to enjoy listening to an array of exhilarating track, complimented with a couple of slower pieces which allows for added variety. No matter what track is being played Rock On!! presents one of the most consistent soundtracks to grace a Bollywood film in a while. Also the production values are absolutely amazing for a Bollywood film. Rock on!! does not feel like a foreign Bollywood film at all, with the whole film feeling like a mid-to-high production Hollywood film. This is achieved with some masterful directing by Abhishek Kapoor with every scene, especially when Magick performs their music, seeming well calculated. However this does not stop Kapoor choosing some strange and rather unnecessary direction for certain scenes but this is thankfully very rare.

In what has been an up-and-down year for Bollywood blockbusters, Rock On!! amazingly is able to remain one string above most of the rest. There is very little to fault beyond the simple story and questionable cinematographic decisions. Rock On!! is as complete a package as you would hope for, and for a film which doesn't appear to be as widely acknowledged as other Bollywood blockbusters, Rock On!! is a true delight.


Screen date: 29 August 2008
Release date: 03 September 2008