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Nervous dads beware: ‘Taken’ is frightening

Washington Post

“Taken”

The story of an ex-CIA spook (Liam Neeson) who trains his deadly skills on the Albanian slavers who have kidnapped his daughter, this film delivers action, car chases, gunfights and just enough queasy exploitation to make you feel bad about yourself afterward.

Bryan Mills retired from his CIA job to be closer to his daughter, 17-year-old Kim (Maggie Grace), who lives in California with her mother (Famke Janssen). Kim wants to spend the summer in Europe despite the qualms of her dad, who sees danger around every corner. Kim is nabbed less than an hour after landing in Paris, and it falls to her father to rescue her from the sex-slavery ring that plans to sell her to a sheik.

The film is perhaps best viewed as a cautionary tale for nervous fathers: Dads, don’t let your little girls go anywhere or do anything, ever.

DVD extras include extended cut; audio commentary with director Pierre Morel, writer Robert Mark Kamen and cinematographers Michel Abramowicz and Michel Julienne; featurettes. (1:34; rated PG-13 for violence, disturbing thematic material, sexual content, drug references and language)

“Underworld: Rise of the Lycans”

An impressive cast of British actors lends Shakespearean importance to this dark and hilariously grandiose vampires vs. werewolves saga.

Intended as a prequel to “Underworld” and “Underworld: Evolution,” the film is set in medieval times. Viktor (Bill Nighy), king of the vampires, has problems: Werewolves are multiplying in the forest, and his daughter (Rhona Mitra) is having a thing with the human- werewolf slave Lucian (Michael Sheen). Lucian leads a slave rebellion.

The violence is more stylized than graphic. There are impalements, throat cuttings, skull crushings and a semi-explicit sexual situation with partial nudity. High-school-age fans of gothic horror ought to be entertained.

DVD extras include director commentary; featurettes; music video. (1:32; rated R for bloody violence and sexuality)

“Passengers”

Anne Hathaway plays a grief and post-traumatic- stress counselor working with survivors of a plane crash in this dry, ineffective psychological thriller.

Claire (Hathaway) comes to suspect the airline is hiding facts about the accident and thinks she’s being followed. She falls, quite unethically, for one survivor (Patrick Wilson) and gets unsought advice from a nosy neighbor (Dianne Wiest).

Despite a strong cast, the film’s dreary pacing and clumsily revealed mystery are more annoying than thrilling.

DVD extras include director commentary; deleted scenes; featurettes. (1:40; rated PG-13 for scary images and sexuality)

Also available: “633 Squadron,” “Along Came Jones,” “Bruce Lee Ultimate Collection,” “Die Hard: The Ultimate Collection,” “The Grudge 3,” “Star Trek – The Motion Picture Trilogy,” “Personal Effects,” “S. Darko,” “Taking Chance.”

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