“Our fathers were our models for God. If our fathers failed, what does that tell you about God?”
– Tyler Durden, Fight Club
(For the introduction to our series on Taken, click here)
More than redeeming the role of daddy and emphasizing a child’s folly, Taken truly transcends these archetypes and fills the viewer with a glimpse of a pursuant, unstoppable Savior. Kim has delivered herself into a situation of suffering, abuse, and death, and certainly in part by her own willful actions. She is a slave in the hands of harsh masters. Helpless to remedy her condition, she could pay the ultimate price… but for the seemingly superhuman abilities of the narrative’s hero, retired CIA agent Bryan Mills.
Although Pierre Morel’s vision is very gritty and earthen in tone, the theme is ultimately transcendent. Some critiqued the film for being over the top, and perhaps Bryan is superhuman to the degree that his character disconnects from the viewer. Few of us can HONESTLY relate to the focused, unyielding orchestrations of Bryan Mills (though we might desire to). Like Bond or Bourne, he is virtually beyond human.
Kim, however, is relatable; we have felt trapped, shackled, imprisoned by our own devices and the dark places they have led us to. We know the feeling of sinking deeper and deeper into depravity and despair. The notion of a loving father – whether we had a good father in our lives, an absentee model, or an abusive one – crashing through all obstacles and rescuing us from destruction is part of the meta-narrative that tugs at our hearts and minds.
So it is not the will of my Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish. – Matthew 18
For those who recognize our spiritual Father, a transcendent loving Creator, there are corresponding pieces in the narrative of Taken that connect as well. We fail to heed our heavenly Father’s instructions, justifying our deceit and disobedience, failing to see how the little sins we justify spill into corporate consequence, and then feeling shocked when our world falls apart. We dial up God on our knees in desperation and tears, pleading to be saved from the resultant horrors we have brought down upon us by our foolishness.
Deliver me from my enemies, O my God; protect me from those who rise up against me; deliver me from those who work evil, and save me from bloodthirsty men. – Psalm 59
Arise, O Lord! Save me, O my God! For you strike all my enemies on the cheek; you break the teeth of the wicked. Salvation belongs to the Lord; your blessing be on your people! – Psalm 3
Jesus taught his disciples how to pray to God and began with “Our Father”. He modeled that we should pray for our father in heaven to “deliver us from evil” as well as to “forgive us our transgressions.” Whereas some spiritual beliefs paint our Creator as an old grandpa in heaven, like Santa Claus waiting with a list of who’s been naughty and who’s been nice, scripture portrays a spiritual Father who is actively seeking and freeing his children, forgiving them and redeeming them and utterly destroying His enemies.
And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming. – 1 John 2
We don’t always want to admit we need this, but Taken succeeds because it taps into what we know we need. Although more complex as a triune God who is Father, Son, and Spirit, God decimates his foes just as Bryan Mills tears Paris a new catacomb, bringing his children home safely just like Kim is rescued from the clutches of her lecherous captor.
Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. – Revelation 19
Like Liam Neeson’s incredible character Bryan Mills, OUR heavenly father is resolute, determined, and relentless. He inspires fear, but offers love; like The Terminator, he simply “will not stop” – and like the Terminator in the second film, our heavenly father reaches out his protective hand and says “come with me if you want to live.” I’m not just taken by that image of father, I’m enraptured.