places hands up defensively Whoa, whoa, I haven’t even seen it, I just read the Wikipedia article!
A bit of summary so we’re all on the same page:
The original Taken was a pretty fun film: Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) is an ex-CIA professional badass, but his dedication to his work over the years strained his marriage to the point of divorce, and his wife is now married to some rich dude who is, well, we don’t know much about him, but he is not a professional badass. His daughter Kim lives with his ex-wife and stepfather, while Neeson/Mills works security jobs protecting celebrities from psycho stalkers.
His daughter is spoiled and reckless, but this is L.A. so whatever. She wants to go to Paris with her friend to ostensibly stay with her friends’ cousins, but the real plan is to follow U2 around Europe and maybe get some personal development in. Her mother conspires with her to hide this from Mills/Neeson, and he gets clucked/ganged-up on/deceived into giving his permission.
Upon arriving in Paris, the two girls meet a cute foreign dude who suggests they share a taxi to their destination. He invites them to a party, and Kim’s friend gleefully announces that she’s going to sleep with Foreign Boy (thereby establishing that despite the deception, small-mindedness, and disobedience, Neeson’s daughter is Totally Not A Slut, Just Her Friend Is). In fact the foreign dude is a scout for creepy Albanian (north of Greece, if you were wondering) sex slavers who come to abduct the girls. As Kim realizes what’s happening, she calls her dad and he hears the whole thing, thereby beginning Neeson’s bloody trail through Paris to find and rescue his daughter. And totally justified, of course, because he’s fighting for that outmoded ideal, womanly purity. At one point he finds Kim’s friend in a squalid brothel, dead from a heroin overdose. We are to understand that this is the punishment for her earlier intended sluttery. Neeson fights some more guys, follows a trail, etc., and eventually rescues his daughter from a fat sheik on a yacht..
Understand: this is crack for conservative divorced dads. Despite being a badass, Neeson is overlooked, overridden, and ignored at the beginning of the movie, but then is revealed to have been Right and Competent All Along as the movie progresses. Plus he gets to karate a bunch of guys. And all of this is for his daughter, and not even that, but for his daughter’s virginity, so he doesn’t even have moral ambiguity to deal with.
In the third movie, from Wikipedia:
In the aftermath of [villain]’s arrest, Kim, who is pregnant, informs Bryan that she wants to name her baby Lenore, after her mother.
Understand that is is portrayed as a good thing. See, she respects her parents! She’s naming her baby after her mom! With her mom dead and stepfather arrested [long story], presumably she’ll live with her badass father and they’ll be a family.
And yet. If she was just going to get knocked up anyway, why not the sheik?
Neeson’s character is the perfect symbol of the modern conservative father: bluff and bluster and maybe even competence within his own sphere, but completely unaware of the actual problem. Despite all his kung fu, Neeson has still failed to keep his daughter marriageable. He has been completely outmaneuvered. Where scary Albanians failed, UCLA succeeded. I bet he feels like a hero.