When I was nineteen years old, I spent a couple of weeks traveling by rail around Europe, some of that time with three other college girls, some of it with a male acquaintance (a companion of convenience, not romance—we could barely tolerate each other), and some of it on my own. Those days were some of the best of my life. I saw a production of Puccini’s La bohème in Rome and Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis at Notre Dame. I cried in front of Michelangelo’s Pietà and Caravaggio’s Sacrifice of Isaac. I walked along snow-covered streets in Vienna and pebbly beaches in Nice. I learned how to read train tables, how to bargain in street markets, and how to drink a shot of tequila.
It was enormous fun—a grand adventure—but more important than that, more important than everything I learned about art and architecture and music, was the resourcefulness that trip taught me, the independence, the self-confidence. This is not to say that I believed myself to be invulnerable—to the contrary, there were times when I was confused and scared, and with reason—but despite that, because of that, I learned to trust myself. I learned how to be brave and how to fake it when I wasn’t. I learned how to find my own way when no one was around to hold my hand. I treasure the memory of that time. As cheesy as it might sound, those two weeks helped make me who I am today.
So Taken breaks my heart. It’s a well-crafted but painfully alarmist thriller about a father trying to save his teenage daughter from the sex traffickers who have kidnapped her from the luxurious Paris apartment where she was vacationing with a friend. Daddy hadn’t wanted his little princess to go in the first place—too dangerous—but Mommy insisted, and look what happened, Daddy was right, the world is too dangerous for girls on their own. Watching Taken, I imagine hyper-vigilant parents taking its lessons to heart and forbidding their daughters from studying or traveling abroad, denying them the kind of opportunity I had, and I want to scream with frustration.