Home > Reviews > TAKEN – Nathaniel Mechaly

TAKEN – Nathaniel Mechaly

January 30, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

A xenophobic and downright nasty action thriller which somehow became a box office success, Taken is directed by Pierre Morel and stars Liam Neeson as Bryan Mills, a former spy with ‘special skills’, who is forced out of retirement when his daughter Kim (Maggie Grace) is kidnapped by a sex trafficking gang in Paris. Once in Europe, Mills runs around a lot and fights his way through the French underworld trying to save his daughter, encountering Albanian crime syndicates and evil Arab billionaires and delivering plenty of high octane energy and pithy-one liners, but it all leaves a nasty taste in the mouth, especially with its blatant “all foreigners are evil” undertone.

The score for Taken is by French composer Nathaniel Mechaly, who has been working in his native France for several years, but who has never had an international breakthrough until now. A lot of Mechaly’s score is quite soft and understated; the “Opening” and the subsequent “Permission to Go to Paris” are little more than piano chords augmented by a soft string wash, while later cues such as “To the Airport”, replace the piano with a gentle and attractive acoustic guitar. As the score progresses, however, Mechaly introduces a stronger, more urgent electronic element into his music, with energetic synthesized pulses and almost dance music-style rhythms.

Cues such as “Pursuit at Roissy”, “Pursuit at the Construction Site”, “Escape from St. Clair” and “Pursuit by the Seine” have the same kind of vibe as John Powell’s Bourne scores, with urgent percussive string writing and electronic beats driving the action along. There is also some rather menacing suspense music, again with a significantly increased electronic element, in cues such as “There’s Somebody Here” and the 6-minute “96 Hours”, which adds a level of tension to the score. These cues work well in context, but they’re not very interesting to listen to on their own terms, and the extended sections of this kind of underscore tend to drag the album down.

And that’s really the problem with Taken as a whole; there’s just not enough interesting music on the album to hold the interest for very long. There are a couple of interesting ideas, mostly involving the sentimental piano/guitar stuff and some of the more urgent action cues, but they are dotted around the album so infrequently that waiting for the good material to arrive is a chore when you have to sit through minutes and minutes of the dull synthetic textures that surround them. A couple of songs – “Change” performed by Joy Denalane and Lupe Fiasco, “Tick Tick, Boom” performed by The Hives, and “The Dragster Wave” performed by Ghinzu – round out the album, and are actually pretty good. Change has a cool soul vibe and a strong vocal element, while “Tick Tick, Boom” is great to just rock out to. As I’ve said before, when the best cuts on an album are the songs rather than the score, you know something’s going on.

Rating: **

Track Listing:

  • Opening (0:56)
  • Change (performed by Joy Denalane feat. Lupe Fiasco) (4:18)
  • Permission to Go to Paris (1:14)
  • To The Airport (1:14)
  • The Concert (0:56)
  • There’s Somebody Here (3:27)
  • Pursuit at Roissy (1:10)
  • On the Rooftop (1:44)
  • 96 Hours (6:04)
  • The Construction Site (2:07)
  • Pursuit at the Construction Site (1:29)
  • Saving Amanda (1:18)
  • Escape From St. Clair (1:41)
  • Tick Tick, Boom (performed by The Hives) (3:28)
  • Hotel Camelia (1:41)
  • The Auction (1:41)
  • Pursuit by the Seine (3:15)
  • On the Boat (1:06)
  • The Last Fight (1:54)
  • The Dragster Wave (performed by Ghinzu) (6:15)

Running Time: 46 minutes 58 seconds

Decca/Razor & Tie 478-1128 (2009)

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