Amoeblog

The Besson Touch: Colombiana (2011) & Taken (2008)

Posted by Charles Reece, September 4, 2011 10:02am | Post a Comment
 columbiana poster  

I caught both of these films the past week, Colombiana at the theater and Taken on blu-ray. The former was directed by Olivier Megaton, the latter by Pierre Morel, but it's the scenarist as auteur who interests me. Although both were co-written by Robert Mark Kamen, I mean the other scenarist who also served as the producer, Luc Besson. If there's something like pure cinema, Besson specializes in pure entertainment. He's unconcerned with any realworld attachment to his cinematic diegeses. His heroes exist in a hermetic reality where all the laws of physics are on their side, cooperating with whatever stunt they're performing, ensuring their success. The only moral code is to be the one performing the violence, not receiving it. This recently resulted in a protest from Colombian-Americans regarding the Besson-world Colombia, filled only with really bad drug dealers killing a couple of really bad drug dealers who happen to love their daughter. Loving little girls is about the only good act in Besson morality, no matter what else one might do for a living (cf. The Professional or Wasabi). Typically that love is expressed through teaching the girl how to perform violence (La Femme Nikita), or to use your professional killing skills to protect her (again, The Professional). In other words, love is violence. 

The present examples are no exception: Taken is about a retired black ops hatchetman for the US going on a rampage through France to rescue his kidnapped daughter from Albanian slave-traders. Colombiana is about the aforementioned daughter from Bolota escaping to Chicago where she meets up with her assassin uncle, who trains her to be a hired killer -- the purpose of which is to eventually exact revenge on the people who killed her parents. Besson, of course, loves assassins, particularly of the young, lithe, winsome and female variety. But that's not what really sets his cornball action tales apart; it's his little flourishes of perversity that I'm calling the Besson Touch.

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