High June: Traded is Taken

Long story short, Traded (2016) is Taken. Short story long, the movie is so much more than that. But the parallels between the 2 movies can’t be denied so I thought that I would just get that out of the way.

If you replace modern day Paris with 1880’s Kansas, Liam Neeson with Michael Pare (Streets of Fire, Eddie and the Cruisers), and substitute the word Taken with Traded, then you pretty much have the same movie.

Pare plays Clay Travis who is a retired gunslinger trying to live a peaceful life as a
rancher with his wife Amelia (Constance Brenneman), their daughter Lily (Britany Elizabeth Williams) and their young son Jake (Hunter Fischer).

However the family’s life is turned upside down when Jake is bitten by a rattlesnake and succumbs to the injury and dies. This sends Amelia into a deep depression and Lily decides to leave home unannounced and pursue her dream of being a “Harvey Girl.”

So, a quick sidebar here. Harvey Girls were one of the earliest forms of modern day
waitresses. Harvey Girls worked for the Fred Harvey Company and the Harvey House, which were hotels and restaurants that were prevalent throughout the southwest of the United States.

Harvey Girls got room and board for their services and were paid $18.50 a month. Check out the Judy Garland 1946 classic Harvey Girls for a more entertaining explanation. Now back to the show…

Clay follows his daughter’s tracks to Wichita, and discovers that she has been taken to Dodge City against her will. In his pursuit, he comes across a variety of villains and characters. Most notably, a barkeep, played by the legendary Kris Kristofferson (Blade Trilogy) who offers some insightful advice to Clay.

Country Music star, Trace Adkins, convincingly plays a corrupt brothel owner while Tom Sizemore (Saving Private Ryan) plays the head bad guy, corralling girls
from surrounding areas and selling and trading them as sex slaves. There’s even cameo’s by Quinton Aaron (The Blindside) and Martin Cove (Cobra Kai, The Karate Kid).

Now if you’re a fan of westerns, and aren’t looking for any in-depth, detailed storyline then this fits the bill. The film is engaging enough to keep you invested in it. Fans of westerns will also be happy to know that the movie comes complete with all the old clichés. What Western movie is complete without a quickdraw shootout in the middle of town?

The acting is done admirably well by all the major players involved. It was great to see Kristofferson going back to what he loves and knows best. He did after all play Billy the Kid in Pat Garret and Billy the Kid. Though his role was small it was powerful.

Trace Adkins was a surprise because he’s such a nice guy in real life and the few times that he has acted he often plays a gentleman. So this was a complete 180 for him.

Tom Sizemore plays his usual tune. Which works well for him. Being the bad guy is his bread and butter but he’s also typecast for that specific reason. Tom Sizemore is a bad guy. His once promising career has been diminished by years of drug and alcohol abuse and far too many run-ins with the law.

Michael Pare displays a formidable character that balances the characteristics of a
gunslinger, and caring father quite well. He plays the character as a typical tough guy but does show flashes of vulnerability when it comes to his daughter. Even minor characters worked well in this movie.

Martin Kove is just the guy you love to hate. He’s made a career out of being the bad guy. Kove plays an abusive step father to a lonely girl that ultimately gets what’s coming to him. Of course, no Kove character is complete without a John Kreese-esque speech to let you know, he’s in charge.

The movie looks legit too, which is nice because there aren’t too many modern takes on western movies these days. But shooting took place at locations on the Paramount Ranch and Big Sky Movie Ranch. For a movie that never got a theatrical release it looks and feels big budget even though it isn’t.

Overall, the tone isn’t as dark as the tone in Taken. I think that, because Taken is a modern day movie, we as a modern audience find it harder to relate to Wild West heroes. It’s easier to relate to a kidnapped victim in Paris, than a cowboy or Harvey Girl in the old west.

That being said the story line itself isn’t that modern and human trafficking and sexual slaves are nothing new to human history. The interesting thing here is that had the movies been reversed upon their releases I would still be writing the same review and Taken would be Traded.

Written by our newest Staff Writer, Lance the OMG! or the way he’s known throughout the internet, Lance the Obscure Movie Guy.

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