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Robert Ginty and Frank Stallone: Together at Last!
*This review contains some minor spoilers*
I just about passed this one by on the video rental outlet's shelf. Not only was it a PG-13 action movie, but it looked pretty lame. But then I saw the movie box boasted a cast that included BOTH Robert Ginty and Frank Stallone! Long-time readers of mine (Ha ha! That's a good one!) will know that this year I have written reviews this year on a Robert Ginty movie and a Frank Stallone movie. Imagine my glee knowing they were in a movie together that I could comment on! Unfortunately, neither one of them are actually the star. That `honor' goes to former Mr. Universe and Arnold Schwartzenegger chum Franco Columbu. His co-star is Barbara Niven, who you may recognize from her big role in `Under Lock & Key.' Yeah, I didn't recognize her either. It's also got veteran actor William Smith in a small role. What more could I ask for? A better script perhaps? Better focus and action? Definitely. The problem with this movie, as I see it, is that Columbu is wearing too many hates: star, producer, and writer. My guess is that he is the mastermind behind most of the film. As a star, he is mostly flat. As a producer, he is cheap. As a writer, he is lacking.
The film takes place in Italy, where American senator Robert Ginty is giving a series of speeches. That's not all he is doing, either. He is also spending some time with his mistress, the daughter of one of his major financial backers. In a really funny scene, some kidnappers try to abduct Ginty using a tarp and a helicopter (you must see it for yourself), but accidentally abduct his mistress instead. The kidnappers are led by none other than Frank Stallone. Stallone is an American political crank hiding out in Sardinia that is tired of crooked American politics. He wants to do something about it, and his plan was to kidnap one of the most crooked politicians out there, Ginty. When the plan backfires, Stallone tries to extort a large sum of money from Ginty in exchange for Ginty's mistress. See, Stallone's really a nice guy and wants things best for America. `I'm just taking from Robert what Robert has taken from somebody else. You know what? That's very American,' Stallone tells his captive, who develops a rapid form of Stockholm Syndrome. Ginty doesn't want the issue to become public, for not only would the publicity be bad for reelection but he is married to boot. So Ginty contacts William Smith, the leader of an American espionage agency. Smith puts Niven on the case, as he thinks she is the best agent they have. That's sad, because Niven's character is an absolute fool. She in turn is supposed to work with an assassin, but he gets in an accident and then Niven mistakes sculptor Columbu as her partner. Therein begins a case of mistaken identity as Niven and Columbu get in one scrape after another while tracking down Stallone.
At first, I was highly enjoying the mistaken identity stuff. It was written well with just the right touch of humor, like the play on words involving Columbu carving tombstones. But then it quickly got tiresome, and I'll tell you why. Niven, the secret agent, is absolutely clueless while Columbu, a sculptor, seems to be a man of all talents. She cowers and whines while he gets the job done. It just felt like that stuff should have been reversed, that Columbu should have been clueless as to how to rescue the girl and Niven should have been more composed (remember, she's the BEST agent America has!). I mark this down as Columbu having a mindset that he had to be the brains and brawn as he wrote the script. It would have been so much more fun if his character was the fish out of water instead of Niven's. In second half of the film, dominated by Columbu and Niven, isn't very fun, especially since the action sequences are lackluster. Luckily, we have Ginty and Stallone to save the film from being a flop. But if you don't like these two actors, you probably won't get much out of `Taken Alive.' Keep this in mind as you wander aimlessly about the action section. Zantara's score: 5 out of 10.
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