Who Loves His Daughter More? Arnold vs. Liam, A Joint Review of Maggie and Taken

“Good will overcome. Trust in that.”

Lord Locksley is right yet again.

I hated Liam Neeson’s blockbuster Taken. Hated it. I hated it despite finding myself in a pool of people who loved it, people who adored it, people who worshiped it. It came out while I was still serving and both the men and women serving beside me couldn’t get enough of it. They also couldn’t keep their enthusiasm to themselves. A happy soul would volunteer they watched it on a long flight, and at least one listener would perk up with, “You saw Taken? What’d you think of it? Awesome, right? I loved it.”

I instinctively hated Taken because it is too easy. Is there any thing Neeson can’t do? No. He’s the most highly skilled and trained operative the world has ever seen. And he’s a dad. Then his virgin daughter gets kidnapped. Yes, I said virgin. His daughter is a virgin, and the whole movie rests on this one simple fact. Like a Fifty Shades of Grey for men, Taken is nothing more than fantasy of the basest kind. What wouldn’t a father with Neeson’s skills do to get his virgin daughter back? American macho men itch for a predicament like this, for a hero to cheer on, for a scenario that they can dream about happening to them. Wouldn’t it be nice if perfect, beautiful, innocent girls were being harmed? Then we could go torture and kill some people without losing sleep at night. Give me a break. Don’t believe my little theory? Ask yourself if you would’ve enjoyed the movie if the daughter had a reputation of being sexually active? Ask yourself how you would’ve felt if when given the horse for her birthday, the daughter had responded, “Aww, you shouldn’t have. I appreciate the effort, but I wanted something ‘hung like a horse’, not an actual horse.”

Yeah, yeah. I get it. I’m alone in my criticism. What else is new? I’m alone, but never without hope. For a long time I’ve waited for someone–anyone–to tell a good father-daughter story. You can imagine my excitement when, yesterday, I stumbled upon Arnold’s newest flick Maggie.

The premise? Zombies. The location? Rural Kansas. The conflict? Arnold’s late teenage daughter is infected with the dealio that turns people into zombies. But Arnold promised her mom, before she died (the mom, not the daughter) that he’d keep her (the daughter) safe.

That’s a remarkable story. The kiddo is going to become a flesh-eating zombie, and you have to kill it or it will kill you. What do you do? What will audiences cheer for? Who wins? Is it believable?

In this simple story, Arnold, the man who single-handedly inspired me and countless millions of others to exercise, essentially standing chest kicks Liam and his Taken nonsense 300-style into the pit. In effect, Arnold says, “You think traipsing around the globe killing people over your virgin daughter is love? Ha. You don’t know what love is, buddy.”

Kansans know what love is though. And I’d like to take a moment to personally thank Arnold for demonstrating this. “Thank you.”

Even before MaggieMan of Steel did Kansans right with an amazing, old t-shirted (seriously, how do they make a t-shirt look so perfectly old?) Kevin Costner and his confident-yet-never-certain wisdom that goes against seemingly common sense which molded Clark into, well, Superman. Yahoo for Kansas.

You know that I grew up in Kansas. Kansas, which is beside Missouri–the Show Me state–must be the place then where I picked up my anti-authority, anti-utilitarianism attitude. The same attitude that Arnold and the other Kansans have in Maggie. The attitude that says, “So what if the government has mandated that infected folks have to be quarantined until they’re killed, so what if I might not be able to do what needs to be done before it’s too late and consequently the larger group is put at even more risk. So what? Who are you to tell me what to do? I only have one daughter, and I made a promise to her dead mother. There is more going on here than you and your rules.”

In the end, of course, Arnold kicks Liam’s ass. The movie is fantastic. There is actually another father-daughter sub-plot that takes the cake, but you have to see it to believe it. No spoilers here. If you secretly or overtly laughed at Taken, watch Maggie.

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