Tonight we are pairing Taken with a wine that like our lead Bryan is not what one first thinks it is. Barolo is a very famous Italian wine that for centuries has been dubbed the “King of wines” by some. Barolo is a wine that has a whole lot going on underneath the surface that no one knows about until they take the time to really look, a bit like a father who is never there but really is out protecting the world.
*** Disclaimer – This article contains spoilers. ***
The wine is wonderfully fragrant, with notes of bitter cherry, truffles, earth and even roses and tar; rather light-colored, quite high in acidity and very tannic, needing several years’ aging in barrel and bottle. Barolo must age a minimum of three years (at least two in barrel) to be declared a Barolo wine. Barolo is often referred to as an intellectuals wine due to it’s intense structure and the understanding necessary to leave a wine on your shelf for a decade or so before you actually drink it.
To add to the complexity Barolo is made of Nebbiolo grapes, thin skinned hard to grown grapes that result in amazing wine, if you know what your doing. To aid in the confusion of Barolo it is a region in Italy’s grape growing areas. Barolo is a bit of a hit and miss wine but when one hits it gets you good! They are amazing but rare and you need the patience to search it out, to do your research on the vintage years that are good and meet with people to decide if the vintage is ready to drink yet or if it needs to be left alone still. Bryan possesses many of the skills we just talked about and instead of pairing Barolo with a meal I say enjoy it on it’s own and realize how similar it is to our lead character.
Now onto the movie…….
Taken stars Liam Neeson an actor whom I always forget what else he has been in but enjoy the movies he does star in. Liam plays Bryan, a divorced retired spy who is trying to re-connect with his 17 year old daughter Kim. It is obvious that Kim’s step father is much wealthier than Bryan is when we see them both at Kim’s birthday party. Bryan brings her a karaoke machine (she’s wanted to be a singer since she was 5 though her Mom Lenore states she grew out of that dream when she was 12) and her step father Stuart comes out with a stunning horse. We see the pang of hurt shoot through Bryan as he just cannot compete on the same field as Stuart when it comes to his own daughter. Bryan takes on a security gig with his old gang after Sam convinces him that he needs to do something but it’s only when Sam reveals the client is a famous singer that Bryan agrees to go. Sheerah is attacked while trying to exit her show and Bryan saves her from a knifing and to show her gratitude she offers to help Kim become a singer. Bryan is ecstatic when Kim calls him to meet for lunch however Bryan is sideswiped when Lenore shows up too and realizes that he is being coerced to sign documents allowing Kim to go to Paris with her friend Amanda. With Bryan’s background he is not a fan of allowing two young girls loose in Paris but he was assured that Amanda’s cousins would be there to look after the girls. Bryan goes against his instincts and signs the papers allowing her to leave the country unescorted.
The girls arrive in Paris and share a cab with Peter, a very friendly cute French man who explains that taxi’s are very expensive and it might be good if they split the cost. Amanda is completely taken with Peter and tells him everything about their trip to follow the U2 tour and that her cousins are out of town and she and Kim have the whole apartment to themselves. Kim can barely hide her shock at this news as she promised her Dad that the cousins would be there and she already feels bad that she lied to him about going to museums the whole trip anyways. When Bryan finally reaches Kim on the phone she tells him how the cousins are away and that she didn’t know about that and in the middle of the conversation she see’s the unthinkable….strangers in the apartment who take Amanda! Bryan gives Kim very specific instructions on what to do once she is taken, and she was taken.
Bryan informs the kidnappers that he does not have money but he does have a particular set of skills that will make him their worst nightmare. He tells the kidnappers that he will find them, and that he will kill them. The only response Bryan receives is “Good Luck”.
Bryan immediately goes into action, questioning Stuart about his business connections and calling Sam to have the phone conversation translated. Sam discovers that the language is Albanian and the dialogue from a specific small town. Marco is the big fish of the organization which specializes in stealing young women traveling and selling them into prostitution.
Bryan arrives in Paris to find Kim, he contacts a few people from before his retirement to try and track down Marco and his ring of prostitution and exploitation of young girls. Jean-Claude is his main contact but unfortunately he rides a desk now and after Peter turns up dead (he jumped off a bridge to evade Bryan) he feels that Bryan needs to leave Paris before he gets into trouble.
Bryan goes after the Albanians and eventually finds a girl who has his daughter’s jacket. Unfortunately she is too high to tell him anything and he needs to bring her back to life. Bryan finds out from the girl where she met his daughter but also finds out that because she is a virgin she is a rare specialty who does not end up in the same whore houses as everyone else. Bryan goes to the house and passes himself off as Jean-Claude (though why they would take an American accent on a French police head honcho I’m not sure) and asks to speak with the leader. Of course all 4 men claim to be Marco. When Bryan begins to explain that he is the new contact for them and that the rates will be going up they get very quiet. He seems to get through to them and passes a note to the real Marco which reads “Good Luck” in Albanian. Bryan asks him to translate it for him. Marco grins and reply’s Good Luck. Bryan looks at Marco and asks if he doesn’t remember him, that he told Marco he would find him. Bryan becomes a killing machine making no mistakes and takes out almost everyone at the house but not before he finds out where his daughter is being held. He searches the house but Amanda sadly does not make it and is found dead in the house by Bryan and the pain on his face is unmistakable and cuts right through you. He tortures Marco to find out that Kim was sold to a man called Saint Claire. As promised he kills Marco, excruciatingly with electricity.
Bryan pay’s Jean-Claude another visit to find out who Saint Claire is but Jean-Claude doesn’t want to play that game. Bryan has to shoot his wife in the arm before Jean-Claude will look up Saint Claire for Bryan.
Bryan gets into Saint Claire’s party by posing as Jean-Claude again and figures out that the girls are being held in the lower level where they are being bid on. Lucky for Bryan he arrives just in time to see his daughter come up for bidding. Bryan coerces one of the men to buy his daughter. Bryan is assaulted before he can get to Kim but he speedily escapes this to go after her on a boat. Once he gets on the boat he fights with everything in him to save his daughter. Luckily the henchmen were not expecting a fully trained spy and he easily takes them out. He kills the Sheik and gets his daughter back.
Once back home Bryan takes Kim to meet Sheerah to help her with her singing career and everything is well between father and daughter.
Overall I think this was a good action/suspense movie. I liked that it wasn’t too bloody/gory and that the bond between father and daughter which Bryan was striving for is there. The effects were not over done and the story did not get lost in any extravagant special effects which is how I prefer it. I enjoyed how Kim actually feels bad about lying to Brian about going to museums and doesn’t act like a spoiled child. This endears her to me and makes me hope through the whole movie that Bryan succeeds and Kim gets to come home safe and sound.
Sit back, sip the Barolo (make sure it’s at least 10 years old before drinking it!) and enjoy the ride that Bryan takes you on.