Human trafficking goes mainstream
What’s one of a parent’s worst fears? Having his or her child kidnapped. Let’s make that even more frightening. How would you feel if your daughter vanished while on a Paris vacation?
After serving his country in intelligence fields, Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) retires to resume a relationship with his 17-year-old daughter, Kim (Maggie Grace), but she wants to follow the band U2 on their European tour. Reluctantly, he agrees to sign a parental consent form not knowing that his daughter will have no supervision other than her 17-year-old friend Amanda.
The two American teens easily fall prey to a ‘want to share a cab with me’ ruse, which leads to a party invitation. Except members of an Ethiopian gang show up to erase any evidence of their landing in Paris. Once kidnapped, they fall into a ring of sex and women traffickers, who, with the police looking the other way, sell pretty young foreigners to the sheik with the most money.
Human trafficking in the European countries has been a not so well kept secret, but few, if any, filmmakers have tackled the topic except, “Eastern Promises” and the “indie” movement. The instant empathy and tension comes from not an unknown Eurasian woman in distress; no, there are two American teens captured and about to be sold into sex slavery.
Naturally, her dad’s experience as a former American James Bond assists in arranging contacts and locating clues, but you will have to accept the given in these one good guy versus unlimited bad guys scenarios: his shots always kill or wound, but theirs miss — always!
Neeson becomes a first-rate cross between Rambo and the Bonds and Bournes of the international intrigue genre. Remaining focused and assisted by pristine editing, this Parisian thriller retains the intimacy of a detective drama by limiting the scope of the impossible mission. A jacket, a name and a rescued female send well-armed dad into the trenches of inhumanity.
Credit the direction with additional restraint by displaying brief glimpses of drugged teens, impromptu privacy rooms, and a beauty to the highest bidder auction. The young women drugged into the trafficking stay seductively clothed or selectively covered. Nor does Neeson fall into any romantic distractions or elaborate secondary challenges.
As a result, it’s all bottom line punching, running, shooting and rescuing, which should delight fans of fast paced thrillers, particularly since the ‘save my daughter’ keeps this mission on a 20/20 stance, particularly the time bomb ticking warning: Find her in 96 hours or she will never be seen again.
Patrons appeared to appreciate the streamlined adventure as I overhead more than one exiting viewer state, “that was good, I’ll see it again.”
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