Taken (2008)

20th Century Fox

The gold standard of dads saving daughters movies, Taken stars Liam Neeson as Brian Mills, a dad who has to rely on his “very particular set of skills” to save his daughter Kim (Maggie Grace) from being auctioned off by absolutely horrible people to other absolutely horrible people.

Taken, more than any other film on this list, plays out like a very effective divorced dad fantasy: When his ex-wife Lenore (Famke Janssen) marries someone who is ostensibly a better provider, Brian proves his worth by doing what the new husband can’t.

Mills is always civil to Lenore’s new husband Stuart (Xander Berkeley), but by Taken 2, the marriage is collapsing — and we can only assume the new husband turned into a jerk because he couldn’t handle the assault on his manhood of being totally shown up by his wife’s ex.

The best thing about Taken is how well it establishes the emotional dynamic between the family before plunging into some thrilling action sequences, played out over a tight 90 minutes. Bryan is the best of all dads saving daughters, so good he inspired two sequels.

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