I think when Liam Neeson is the lead actor in a film you are pretty sure what you’re going to get, especially when it’s relatively low-budget and hasn’t had a huge amount of marketing attached to it. So I went in expecting, essentially, Taken 4 (or Tfourken as it’s likely to end up being called) and to be honest, I was pleasantly surprised. But not by a lot.
Neeson plays Jimmy Conlon, an ex mob hitman called The Gravedigger, who has since self destructed over the guilt of his past and the estrangement of his family and is now an alcoholic wreck of a man. His only friend left is his old boss Shawn Maguire, played by Ed Harris. Events occur early into the film that lead to Maguire targeting Conlon’s estranged son Michael (Joel Kinnaman) and his family. This leads to Conlon going up against his best friend to save his son’s life.
What you end up with is a pretty reasonable blend of one of the Taken films with Road to Perdition. Based on the brief synopsis of the plot, you can probably work out the majority of what will happen. Which is fine, because as I said, you’re pretty sure going in anyway. That said, while nothing is especially surprising, it is all still done rather well.
Neeson and Harris are talented actors with much work behind them and they play off each other very well. The action scenes are well made, easy to follow and largely pretty convincing. You’re not going to get the sheer level of efficient slaughter that was shown in Taken (well the first one, anyway) but that’s because Conlon is a street fighter. The fights are ugly and brutish and that fits well with the character given. The plot is well-developed and in places reasonably smart, to the point that, several times I would think “sigh, they’re going to do that stupid thing where…oh, they didn’t. Nice.”. Common even has a role as hitman Price that works pretty well – casually efficient and lethal but without going over the top and turning into the Terminator.
This is, at its core, a straight up action film but in the parts between the fight scenes, effort has been made to put in decent performances and a decent plot. It all plays out very well and was actually quite thrilling at times. Lastly and best of all it’s not 12 bloody A, it’s a solid 15 rating and it is used to good effect.
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