© STUDIOCANAL GmbH Filmverleih

France/Germany/Spain/U.S.A. 2023

Opening 14 Sep 2023

Directed by: Nimród Antal
Writing credits: Alberto Marini, Christopher Salmanpour
Principal actors: Liam Neeson, Noma Dumezweni, Lilly Aspell, Jack Champion, Arian Moayed

Anderson’s (Matthew Modine) early morning call to financier colleague, and longtime friend, Matt Truner (Liam Neeson) switches his attention to company problems. No time for news, a phone call must be made. But, having forgotten his rare promise to drive their children to school today, Matt is naturally compelled to do so when Hillary (Embeth Davidtz) reminds him. It takes parent-pressure to peel adolescent Em (Lilly Aspell) away from her laptop and corral teenager Zac (Jack Champion). So, unbeknownst to them, their nerve-racking nightmare begins, and director Nimród Antal’s laser-focused, fast and furious thriller with Chris Salmanpour’s screenplay based on the 2015 French-Spanish action-thriller, El desconocido, about a bomb-happy madman and a man’s struggle to save his family.

An unfamiliar cell phone rings, and an unrecognizable male voice warns Matt: Henceforth it will direct Matt’s every move to complete specified directives, “You do exactly what I say when I say and maybe you’ll get out of this and your children.” The Voice guides him to a position across from Sal (Arian Moayed), hinting at improper behavior and having an uncanny knowledge of certain things. Following an explosion tensions spike; the Berlin police become involved, and an international security agent (Noma Dumezweni) takes charge. The situation is impossible with Matt wired to his seat and his family’s lives at stake. Subsequent to his initial shock, Matt starts thinking strategically knowing survival will depend on his taking big risks.

Taken (2008) brought a new level of quality to action-thriller genre—the Neeson-noir, one could say. Neeson, Aspell, and Champion compel audiences to watch their nuanced, taut, and balanced performances during their ordeal confined in the automobile, i.e., for most of the movie. Flavio Martínez Labiano’s cinematography is lively, chameleonic with Steve Mirkovich’s editing and Harry Gregson-Williams’s impressive, energy-charged score that contribute to the tension, anxiety, and emotional strain—the red herrings are nicely veiled. The Voice thinks his plan is infallible. Reprisal, Retribution, family, salvation… is it possible? (Marinell Haegelin)

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