Thoughts on “Taken”

The movies, Taken and Taken 2, shed a revealing light on the inhumane crimes of human and sex trafficking.  Both demonstrate the violence, greed and demand of modern day slavery yet contain flaws which, unfortunately, portray sex trafficking in an inaccurate light.

In the first Taken movie, a retired CIA agent’s daughter is abducted by slave traders in District B13 while traveling through Europe with a friend.  Her father must embark on a frantic quest to rescue her before she is forever lost in the underworld trade of human trafficking or worse: killed.  The redemptative portions of this film embraced the entrepreneurial nature of pimps, how they run their lucrative business, their disregard for human life, the ease at which cargo is obtained and the high demand for sexual services across the globe.  Taken also introduces undertones of drug trafficking and how it contributes to and profits from sex trafficking.  One scene from Taken, in particular, shows Liam Neeson’s character plowing through a makeshift brothel on a construction site in his search for his daughter.  Girls are shown onscreen as groggy and lethargic, implying the effects of drugs in their systems.  This one scene paints the portrait that pimps create a dependency on drugs in order that their ‘employees’ do not resist customers, are compliant and do not escape.  A third aspect of human trafficking that Taken sheds light on the international political corruption that exists.  A prime example of how international leaders ignore the problem and turn a blind eye through bribery, manipulation and lax (inter)national laws is the French friend of Brian Mills who has climbed his way up the political ladder in his law enforcement career.  This particular friend refuses to provide information on Mills’ daughter’s whereabouts or who the group who has kidnapped her is.

Realistically, individuals must realize that although Maggie Grace’s character is fortunate to have a father who is able to track and rescue her due to his particular skill set, most victims of human trafficking do not come from this sort of family background.  The majority of human and sex trafficking victims do not have family members or friends who are (properly) equipped to save them from their devasting situation and are left to be tortured, raped or even killed for the financial gain of their pimp(s).  This provides a delusional portrayal that anyone can be rescued from sex trafficking only 72 hours after being abducted.  Most victims are not so fortunate as this is simply not the case.  Would it not be fantastic for all males and females who are entrapped in this heinous crime to be so heroically saved from their captors!  As appreciative as I am that a mainstream movie was successful in drawing attention to the realities of human trafficking while providing insight into one of the many ways victims are captured and the financial considerations that pimps undergo, it was deceitful in the sense that it portrays the rescue of such victims as easily, quickly and nonchalantly as it did.

Taken 2 sequels its predecessor with less surprise and intensity as it lacks less story than the initial film.  Its plot revolves around Brian Mills (Liam Neeson) taking his former wife and daughter to Turkey after he completes a mission to rekindle their broken family life.  What Brian Mills does not realize is that the Albanian father of the man he killed in the previous movie has also arrived in Turkey with a hit squad with the mission to take revenge on Bryan for killing his son.  Shortly into the trip, Bryan and his wife, Lenore, are kidnapped and chained, awaiting death, in the hands of the vengeful Albanian father.  Kim must save her parents with hand grenades, cutting-edge technology and old-fashioned sense before their lives are cut short.

While Taken 2 demonstrates the reality of revenge of trafficking lords and rings when they are threatened, particularly when members of their group have been hurt or killed, it cannot be mistaken that all (international) rings actually carry this sort of revenge out.  In my experience with working with and speaking to law enforcement here in the States, pimps and traffickers often times do not track down prostitutes if the latter escapes.  This is based on the reality that pimps can easily replace their property with new meat. I am not sure if this same mentality can be translated to third parties threatening the pimps, however.  It may be a very true reality that pimps or sex rings may implement some sort of revenge if ring leaders are imprisoned, hurt or killed but one cannot assume that revenge is always implemented or to the extreme that is seen in this second Taken movie.

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