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SCENE STEALER

Liam Neeson is no Mr. Nice Guy in 'Taken'

February 05, 2009|Michael Ordona

The brawls in the Liam Neeson actioner "Taken" are downright Hobbesian: nasty, brutish and short.

"In real life, fights are very short," said fight choreographer Olivier Schneider. "What I wanted was not to show something beautiful but something realistic and very powerful. You don't have time to pose."

Neeson's character, a former spy, employs a mix of Chinese and Indonesian martial arts in an ultra-aggressive, no-nonsense approach to conflict resolution. And rather than dazzle with quick cuts or crazy angles, the filmmakers let the audience see it all.

In one scene, Neeson walks into a kitchen with several soon-to-be enemies. He engages them in conversation while subtly scouting for exits and potential weapons. "When we rehearsed that scene," said Schneider, "I told the other actors, 'You have a gun? If you have time to shoot Liam, do it.' "

Schneider says they used every spare moment to rehearse, because Neeson gamely insisted on doing his own fights. The work paid off, as the human wreckage in the character's wake will attest.

-- Michael Ordona

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