Pierre Morel’s Taken focuses on a familiar scenario in our generation: absentee Dad. Statistics suggest 40% of kids in the United States go to bed with no Dad in the home. It’s the absent father figure that has spun into several redemptive narratives, surfacing story trends that deal with the reconciliation of our Daddy issues.
Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) let work consume his life, his job as CIA “preventer” estranging him from wife and daughter. Having failed on the family front, he’s eager to prove himself – so eager, in fact, that he actually accommodates his daughter when he shouldn’t. Kim desires something rash and inadvisable, and even though he seeks to make his agreement conditional, Bryan tries to be “friend” instead of father and allows her to go to Paris, even when she has clearly been deceitful with the plan.
It’s a common error for Dad to try to win a child’s affection as “buddy” instead of a dad. Father’s are designed to lead their home, shepherd and protect their children – especially from their own childish folly. Providentially, however, the same skills Bryan developed in building the career that alienated him from his family become redemptive gifts when his daughter is put in danger. He is able to channel his skills in a fatherly direction toward the relentless pursuit of his child.
In Bryan’s eyes, the eyes of his daughter, and perhaps the eyes of the viewer, he is given the opportunity to redeem a fractured family bond; although the chance is afforded by nightmarish circumstance, it works out for good beyond the mere saving of a life and transcends to healing a longer life arc between he and his family.
When the apostle Paul wrote 2,000 years ago that “if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith…” he was not just speaking of financial provision, but alluding to what kind of legacy we are building. How are fathers providing not just for the stomachs of their family and the roof over their heads, but also the way they model their role, leading the hearts and minds of those they are called to care for? Bryan Mills looks at the years passing by with singular pictures of his little girl becoming a woman, and likely wonders… what man will she marry based on the example and expectation he has modeled for her? What will his daughter’s future children see when they look at granddad? Something must change…
The quiet moments in this film – albeit brief – speak volumes. There is Hollywood wish fulfillment here, a confluence of events that redeems daddy and brings a strong parental figure into view in a culture where it is increasingly absent. The great post-film discussion is what this might really look like, apart from a hideous happenstance involving human trafficking and a father trained by the CIA. How do we really redeem the role of father in our broken culture?