Taken appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The film provides an attractive visual experience.
Sharpness proved positive. A few wide shots showed minimal softness at most, as the majority of the film displayed solid clarity and accuracy. I noticed no issues with jagged edges or shimmer, and edge enhancement seemed to be absent. Source flaws also failed to be a concern. The film featured natural levels of grain and didn’t appear to have been subjected to excessive noise reduction.
Like most modern films of this sort, the movie went with a subdued, stylistic palette. It looked a bit golden at the start but went with a more pale sensibility after Kim’s kidnapping. The tones reflected the nature of the material and looked fine. Blacks were dark and dense, while shadows seemed decent. The movie’s high contrast look sometimes meant that low-light shots were somewhat thick, but they usually worked well. Overall, the image satisfied.
I felt the same about the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Taken. The film’s occasional set pieces offered the most dynamic elements. Sequences like fights and car chases opened up the soundfield well and gave us a nice sense of involvement. Music showed good stereo imaging, and the flick used the surrounds well. The back speakers worked as active participants and placed us in the action.
Audio quality proved pleasing. Speech was natural and distinctive, without edginess or other concerns. Music appeared lively and dynamic, and effects fared well. Those elements sounded full and rich at all times. Low-end response was quite good and brought out a good sense of depth. This turned into a pretty positive package.
We get a mix of extras here. The Blu-ray includes both the PG-13 rated theatrical cut of Taken as well as an unrated edition of the film. The theatrical version runs one hour, 30 minutes and 55 seconds, while the unrated one goes for one hour, 33 minutes, 25 seconds. I only watched the unrated version, so I can’t comment on the changes that come with the extra two and a half minutes. Nonetheless, I wanted to mention the presence of the two versions.
The disc includes two separate audio commentaries, both of which accompany the unrated edition. The first comes from director Pierre Morel, cinematographer Michel Abramowicz, and car stunt supervisor Michel Julienne. If you don’t speak French, this will be a text commentary for you; the disc provides subtitles for the track. The participants discuss cinematography and visual design, story, characters and pacing, locations and working in the US, cast and performances, stunts and action, effects, music, and a few other production topics.
We learn quite a lot about Taken here. The participants interact in a light and engaging manner as they dig into the movie. Plenty of interesting information comes to the fore in this useful chat.
For the second commentary, we hear from co-screenwriter Robert Mark Kamen. He offers a running, screen-specific chat that looks at his relationship with co-writer Luc Besson, the story’s origins and the development of the script, cast and crew, research, ratings issues, and a few other plot topics.
Kamen doesn’t often make this a truly “screen-specific” piece, as his notes usually veer from the action on screen. He does dig into a lot of interesting subjects, though, as he provides good insights into his work and the film. He certainly maintains a good level of energy in this enjoyable piece.
For an interactive feature, we go to the Black Ops Field Manual. This provides a combination of text commentary and statistics that relate to Bryan’s quest. The former tells us minor factoids about bits that crop up during the flick; these pop up sporadically and don’t really tell us a ton. As a text commentary, we don’t get much of value.
The other bits aren’t much more compelling either, but at least they’re more unusual. We find occasional “geographic locators”: a map appears on screen and shows us Bryan’s location. At the top of the screen, a bar keeps track of the distance Bryan travels throughout the film, how many people he injures and kills, and the time that remains for him to find Kim. All of these make the “Manual” mildly interesting at best.
Two featurettes follow. Le Making-of goes for 18 minutes, 23 seconds and includes notes from Morel and actors Liam Neeson and Maggie Grace. The program looks at story and characters, cast and performances, sets and locations, stunts and action,
We find a pretty standard promotional featurette. Along the way, some decent footage from the shoot appears, but interesting information fails to appear with much frequency. The show is perfectly watchable but also perfectly ordinary.
Avant Premiere runs four minutes, 48 seconds and features a few notes from Morel, Neeson and co-writer Luc Besson. Mostly we just see shots from the Paris premiere; it’s promotional and without much to make it interesting.
Next we find Inside Action. This allows you to observe six clips that provide raw footage from the shoot. We can compare the “fly on the wall” material with the same shots from the final film. All together, the six segments last a total of 11 minutes, five seconds, and they provide a cool perspective.
A few ads open the disc. We get clips for X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Digital Copy, Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li and 12 Rounds. In addition, the Trailers area provides a promo for Notorious. No trailer for Taken shows up here.
Finally, a second disc provides a Digital Copy of the film. This allows you to easily transfer the flick to your computer or portable viewing device. It doesn’t do anything for me, but your mileage may vary, as they say.
At no point does Taken reinvent the action flick wheel, and it often feels like a throwback to the super-violent movies of the 80s. However, it brings a little more humanity to the genre, largely due to an effective performance from Liam Neeson. The Blu-ray presents very good picture and audio along with a pretty engaging set of supplements; in particular, the pair of commentaries please. This is both an involving movie and a nice release.