Approaching Taken's portrayal of Muslim men in light of these questions, two moments in the film seem particularly telling. First, while working as a part-time bodyguard, Bryan successfully saves a young pop diva from a mysterious assailant immediately after a concert and lends her a sympathetic shoulder as she breaks into tears. Second, while trying to force information out of a former acquaintance, a corrupt French intelligence official, Bryan brutally shoots the man's wife in the arm. Both scenes depend on the same premise: that men are the guardians if not owners of women, which is precisely what lets a man hold a woman as hostage in his struggle with another man. In this sense, the overall plot of Taken thus relies on the body and person of a young woman, Kim, as the site of a contest between the West and the rest -- a story that not only ends by reasserting the West's spectacular power, but ultimately reveals its own dark, patriarchal subconscious. So much, then, for saving the victims.
Arafat A. Razzaque is currently a Master's student at Harvard Divinity School. He previously worked for two years at an international non-profit foundation in Cambridge, MA devoted to women's education in South Asia. Arafat graduated from Yale University with a B.A. in Humanities, and his academic interests lie in the social and intellectual history of the medieval Near East.