Wednesday, July 21, 2010

LESSONS FROM THE MOVIE: Anticipatory Prowess


I love to watch spy thrillers primarily because they are always entertaining, at least for about two hours of "mental downtime" in one go. Their story plots - & action sequences - often keep me at the edge of the seat. Best of all, I often can pick up a lot of pointers about life in general.

I recently watched 'Taken' on StarHub cable television, starring Liam Neeson [Readers may recall him: Col 'Hannibal' in the recent spectacular war action movie, 'A-Team' showing in the theatres] as a retired intelligence operative, Bryan, who wanted to spend more time with his estranged daughter.

By the way, the movie story was helmed by the French master taleblazer, Luc Besson, who was also behind great crime movies like 'Nikita', 'The Professional', 'Wasabi', 'Kiss of the Dragon' (with Jet Li) & 'The Transporter' trilogy.

I was fascinated when Bryan's daughter asked about his "work with the government". He said he was a preventer - "I prevent bad things from happening". I like that.

The entire movie centred on his relentless personal search & rescue of his only daughter from the hands of ruthless Albanian human traffickers (naturally with links to a dirty French cop), who had accosted her when she was visiting Paris with a girlfriend & staying at an apartment over there.

The damsels' biggest mistake was that they were too friendly at the airport with a handsome young man, who had offered to share a taxi to go into town. He was the spotter.

According to intelligence sources, Bryan only had a time window of about 96 hours, before his daughter would disappear across the borders.

Originally, he was reluctant to let the daughter go to Paris, but finally gave in because of the pampering mother. However, he did insist that the daughter should call the father every day to keep him posted of her exact whereabouts.

[Come to think of it, the overbearingness of the father eventually paid off, because he had anticipated potential problems.]

Using "a particular set of skills he had acquired over a long career" in intelligence operations, & also drawing upon his personal network of intelligence connections, he succeeded eventually.

From the moment he had received the last phone-call from his poor daughter during the heat of the kidnap attempt, his mind was already on the ball. His handphone was immediately plugged to a tape recorder. He told her calmly that she would be taken soon, but cautioned her to stay focused so that she could relate exactly what was happening from the time they had arrived at the airport to that point in time at the apartment, & of course, till the very last moment when the call was finally interrupted by one of the kidnappers.

Byran had the opportunity to warn one of the kidnappers, who apparently was listening to his daughter's handphone. He told him in no uncertain terms to release his daughter, failing which he would give them nightmares. The mysterious kidnapper said 'Good Luck' to him just before cutting off. That was his biggest mistake, because Bryan remembered his voice.

Worst still, during the tape recording, the name of Marko was yelled by one of the kidnappers.

With the sketchy but definitely vital information from the daughter, & from the recording, & plus additional inputs from his seemingly reluctant intelligence sources in Paris, Bryan was able to connect all the dots by following leads & to zero on to the exact whereabouts of the kidnappers eventually.

I like the part where he stood in the apartment at various positions to observe clues & to visualise the whole kidnap sequence from all the available information he had gathered. He managed to locate the daughter's handphone.

[The spotter had unwittingly helped the daughter to capture a digital snapshot of the two damsels on the handphone while waiting for a taxi. His reflection was unsuspectingly caught in the glass panel behind them. That was also his biggest mistake, as he served as the first lead for Bryan in the hunt.]

More importantly, Bryan had very timely anticipated unwelcome interventions from the dirty French cop, who was more determined to steamroll him.

Fortunately, with his cool presence of mind, despite feeling the total anguish of a desperate father, & luckily, coupled with precision - but deadly - unarmed combat skills which he had acquired as a 'preventor', Bryan was able to anticipate every enemy move, & to neutralise the bad guys - I reckon more than three dozen dead counts - who stood in his way.

Well, I am not going to give away any more details about the remaining story sequence. Go & watch it for yourself!

Nonetheless, it was truly an entertaining & exciting movie for me. Even my wife had enjoyed watching the movie with me.

To be frank, Mums & Dads should watch the movie. 'Don't talk to strangers' will then make a lot of more sense ~ I reckon at least from a 'street survival' perspective.

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