<img src="http://dev.blogs.amctv.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/taken_and_ransom.jpg" alt="" title="Now or Then – Taken or Ransom?” width=”560″/>
In Taken, Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) is a former CIA operative who tears Paris apart looking for his daughter, Kim (Maggie Grace), who’s been nabbed by sex traffickers. In Ransom, Tom Mullen (Mel Gibson) is a wealthy businessman whose son is kidnapped for a $2 million ransom. Tom turns the ransom into a public reward and sets all of New York after the bad guys. Which of these two kidnapping movies can you safely pay a visit to?
Tough Dad With a Past
Taken: Bryan can break necks in seconds flat, but he’s retired now and taking the occasional gig as a security guard to touring pop stars.
Ransom: Tom Mullen is a self-made airline magnate who flew combat missions in Vietnam, and he’s not above a bit of duplicity — he recently bribed a union head to prevent a strike.
The Winner: Taken. Mel Gibson might be rich, but we’d rather have Liam Neeson and his “special set of skills” for a dad.
Trouble at Home
Taken: Bryan’s ex-wife, Lenore (Famke Janssen), resents him for not having been there for their daughter back when he was an agent. She’s also angry when Bryan balks at allowing Kim to travel to France.
Ransom: When we first see Tom’s wife, Kate (Rene Russo), she’s loving, trusting, and supportive. But after she finds out about his shady dealings, she accuses him of loving his business more than his son.
The Winner: Taken. We always wondered how the families of covert operatives felt.
Keep an Eye on Your Kids
Taken: Bryan’s daughter doesn’t last a day in forbidding France before being abducted by Albanian gangsters, proving Bryan’s seemingly outlandish fears about her traveling unchaperoned.
Ransom: Tom’s son, Sean (Brawley Nolte), is taken by money-hungry kidnappers at an outdoor science fair in Central Park, when his parents aren’t looking.
The Winner: Ransom. Neither scenario is particularly realistic, but at least this one doesn’t prey on the audience’s xenophobia.
Taken: Bryan’s old friend Jean-Claude (Olivier Rabourdin), a fellow operative and now a bigwig in a French intelligence agency, initially tries to help Bryan, but we soon learn he knows way more than he’s letting on.
Ransom: The kidnapping operation is run by Detective Shaker (Gary Sinise), who later pretends to have found Sean, thus claiming the reward money.
The Winner: Ransom. But the scene in Taken where Bryan shoots Jean-Claude’s wife in an attempt to get him to talk will always be a classic.
Taken: It’s a thoroughly un-p.c. ride that, despite its by-the-numbers premise, actually manages to surprise with its go-for-broke nastiness — something of a breath of fresh air among today’s vanilla action flicks.
Ransom: Smarter than most kidnapping thrillers — even, say, Taken — but still just as implausible. Mel Gibson’s performance hasn’t aged well.
The Winner: Taken.