Friday Night Double Feature: Saving The Family
This weekend Liam Neeson kicks ass and takes names in a desperate attempt to get his daughter back after she’s kidnapped by some bad guys in Taken. Obviously Neeson didn’t watch the early seasons of Lost or he’d be less interested in saving Maggie Grace.
Despite Neeson’s roles as a Jedi Master and a criminal mastermind who faces off with Batman (Star Wars: Episode I and Batman Begins respectively), the actor doesn’t exactly draw the idea of an action hero to mind. I would expect a more thoughtful approach to saving a family member than the brutish approach in Taken. The guns-blazing, shoot-em-up approach to saving family has been done by some of the action greats, as we see in this week’s Double Feature. Still, Neeson is supposed to do a capable job, so you might want to enhance this week’s Double Feature by making a trip to the theater and adding Taken to the list.
Bruce Willis is quickly becoming a mainstay for this column, and Hostage is one of my favorite underappreciated Willis vehicles. Hostage isn’t just a simple story with Willis’s family captured and the action star trying to free them. Instead he’s being manipulated into a larger story - a story that gets screwed up when a bunch of punk kids wind up breaking into a house that puts everybody in a situation much larger than they were prepared for. I enjoy this guilty pleasure quite a bit, not for Willis who is pretty typical here, although I do love the added twist that his in-movie daughter is played by his real life daughter. For me, the real shining star of the movie is Ben Foster, who plays one of the kids who is more than he appears, and evil through and through. At the time Foster was more of an unknown, making him a diamond in the rough here, although his career has taken off quite a bit since with appearances in 3:10 to Yuma and X-Men 3.
Take every clichéd, over the top action movie concepts, stuff them into one movie, and you have Commando. Made as Arnie’s career as action king really started to take off, Schwarzenegger really is a one-man army here. The story makes little sense if you think about it at all, but let’s be honest, you don’t watch a movie like this for story; you watch it to see stuff blow up, and blow up it certainly does. Arnold is unstoppable in his quest to get his daughter back, to the point that you’d think nobody would ever want to kidnap anyone else again, for fear Arnie might come after them (thankfully, a Commando sequel wasn’t tried. Then again, can you blame him for his dedication to his family? In the ‘80s I would have done just about anything to save Alyssa Milano from the bad guys too - certainly more than I’d do to save Maggie Grace.
Other desperate bids to save family: Ransom, Die Hard, Saw II, Air Force One
Enjoy our Double Feature suggestions? and maybe we’ll use them in a future column.