Monday, June 29, 2009


I finally got around to watching Taken tonight and I really enjoyed it. I’d call it the feel good movie of the year. The story is about a father whose daughter is kidnapped by slavers in France and who then hunts the kidnappers down and kills them. Liam Neeson plays the father and the old man can ‘do’ some action moves. For a while, Lana and I were having bad luck with our movie picks, but the last couple, Taken and Gran Torino, have been pretty good.

The scary thing is, of course, that such evils do happen and too often are allowed to happen by the corruption in our governments and police forces. I see in Greater New Orleans the police setting up speed traps to catch working people on their way to and from their jobs, and to ticket those who aren’t wearing their seat belts. I see them arresting taggers and throwing them into jail where they can clutter up the courts rather than just giving them fines. I see them setting up stings to arrest prostitutes and Johns rather than getting the pimps and organized crime figures who run the prostitutes. The police are gung ho on the small time criminals. Generally they seem to leave the big ones alone, and almost certainly it is because someone’s palm is getting greased.

A week ago we had two interesting police related events that happened only a day apart. It was announced one day that many thousands of dollars had gone missing from the evidence lockers of the NOPD; the very next day we heard how the police department needed a big increase in funding in order to keep our streets safe from criminals. Maybe they should just check their evidence lockers for the criminals. They could cut crime a lot faster and wouldn’t need any additional funding. Hell, they wouldn’t even need cars. The crime is happening right on their own premises.

Of course, there are plenty of good police officers. But where are the priorities of those who are assigning those officers to duty? The person without the seat belt is likely to hurt themselves before they hurt anyone else. The taggers should be fined if they deface public property, but do we need to clog up the courts with such cases? Set the fines, make ‘em steep if you want, but put the focus of the court and law systems on the big time criminals who fester like ticks on the body of the country.

Seems to me, we’re all being “taken.”


Lana Gramlich said...

Welcome to the land of the free & home of the brave. (/sarcasm)

Lisa said...

We saw Taken and thought it was pretty good too. It's incredible how much human trafficking goes on around the world and right here in this country.

writtenwyrdd said...

"But where are the priorities of those who are assigning those officers to duty?"

Most cops are well intentioned, but the people who set policy (that which turns laws on their heads) is political. And politics is greased by money, of which criminals have lots and lots and lots.

Look at how immigration law is seemingly ignored within the US. Recall the raid on a Washington employer that netted a bunch of illegals? Those illegals were released and given legal status withing a day or so. Baaaaack to work. And I presume that the powers that be have instructed ICE (Immigration & Customs Enforcement, the arm of Homeland Security that deals with the interior of the US for Customs and Immigration matters) to keep their hands off illegals. Not that they advertise these decisions. It's Policy and thus Political.

the walking man said...

By "Taken" you mean raped by our municipal, state and, federal government right?

Google up Monica Conyers another government rapist Detroit official, finally caught. Wife of a 26 term US Rep John Conyers who knew nothing of her graft...right.

X. Dell said...

Well, speed traps are one way to increase revenue for cities that might experience increased budgetary stress, despite the stimulus. Arrest quotas put more people into the system, which in turn can serve as an argument for more funding. Arresting small-time crooks and letting the big fish free allows for whatever kickbacks or favors well connected crime bosses can bestow, while at the same time convincing the public that the cops are doing their jobs--which, of course, can be used as a political reason to increase police funding.

Seems to me there's (unfortunately) a certain logic to corruption.

Angie said...

I loved Taken too. [nod] Of course, Liam Neeson is the one celeb who, if he showed up at my front door and wanted a weekend of no-strings sex, I'd actually go negotiate with my husband. [cough] Fantasies aside, though, he's a good actor and a gorgeous man, and wonderfully suited to physical roles. And yes, in great shape for his age. :) I heard he was throwing Christian Bale around the salle nicely just a few years ago when they were filming Batman Begins together.

About the only thing I didn't like about Taken was I thought the mother's character was a little too two-dimensional. It's like they said to the actress and the writer both, "Okay, she's this shallow, selfish idiot who discounts anything her ex says and left him for a rich guy. Write/play her like a cardboard idiot and we're golden." Even her new husband was more sympathetic a character, I thought. I get what they're trying to do, underscoring the fact that this stuff does happen and that most people don't know about it and don't want to. But I think the message, if one sees it as such, would've been stronger if she were closer to being an actual, intelligent human being, someone with a blind spot but also a brain and some character.

I definitely liked that Neeson's character wasn't completely likeable, though. When he shot the guy's wife just to make him talk, that was a totally obsessed father willing to go through anything and anyone, including completely innocent bystanders -- who've known him for years and were showing him hospitality -- in order to get to his daughter. I could understand where that mindset comes from, while still being appalled by some of his actions. I think a lot of people would accept the idea that a parent would do anything for a child in danger, but here's a father who really would and will and does, and it's shocking to see the reality of that idea. Great character with multiple facets and nuances. I just wish they'd spent some of the same character development effort on the mother.


Middle Ditch said...

As we say here (and in parliament) Hear, Hear!

Not long ago we had a schoolgirl, on her way home after school, taken by a man laying in wait. She managed to escape and the police were alerted by her parents. Worried, some parents phoned the school if some action was going to be taken by the school. The answer?

The police advised us to wait until further notice.

What!! This freak was still on the loose! Another small girl might not be able to escape this man's clutches and the police just ignored to warn other schools in the neighbourhood too!


laughingwolf said...

can anyone say: dirty politics?

Charles Gramlich said...

Lana Gramlich, I know you well enough sweetness to recognize your sarcasm.

Lisa, Yes, it’s horrifying to think about.

writtenwyrdd, yes, and people don’t see it. The powers that be have five cops working a seat belt check because the government will make money that way. It’s disgusting.

Mark, yes, that’s exactly what I meant.

X. Dell, I know. It’s all about revenue. I’ve gotten caught in speed traps a couple of times, then when I go to pay the fine there are literally hundreds of people there paying the same kinds of fines. 99 percent of the folks there are law abiding, hard working citizens, but they are bearing the brunt of the cost of the police departments, not just through their taxes but through their credit cards.

Angie, I agree that the mother was rather ill used. I thought she was needlessly mean, and that made her sudden turn around at the end less believable. I also liked that Neeson’s character was flat out vicious at times. His character started out very likable but then you began to see the dangerous side of him. I thought it was well done. Makes me think, I’d hate to date this guy’s daughter. As for your comment on Neeson being a “gorgeous man,” all I can say is, thank goodness there are women in the world who find ugly men attractive. Lol.

Charles Gramlich said...

Middle Ditch, my goodness, you wouldn't want them to face a potentially dangerous criminial would you? How thoughtless of you. ;)

laughingwolf, there doesn't appear to be any other kind.

JR's Thumbprints said...

This is how we decrease our crime statistics in Michigan: Lay-off police officers.

This is how we save money in Michigan: Parole more inmates.

Of course, there's always the risk factor.

L.A. Mitchell said...

I'm so glad you finally saw Gran Torino. Love, love, loved it. I know corruption is everywhere, but certain cities seem rife with it and NO is high on that list.

Paul R. McNamee said...

I don't mind police doing proper traffic work with the public safety in mind. But expecting and relying on ticket-generated revenue is just wrong, as far as I am concerned.

BernardL said...

What's scary is I rented Taken and Gran Torino the same weekends you did. I believe the cosmic balance has been upset. :)

Charles Gramlich said...

JR, the priorities are clear. And we citizens aren't it.
Michigan: Parole more inmates.

L.A. Mitchell, I thought things were getting better with the NOPD until this latest fiasco.

Paul R., yes, public safety is a good reason for police work, but with the number of trick traps down here it's clearly not the issue. There's one place where they set speed traps at the bottom of a hill. You come over the hill where the speed limit is 35, right across the hill it's 20. They get every person who comes over because of the positioning of the sings. There's another place where they get people for rolling stops because the stop sign is positioned several feet back from the road and you can't see down that road if you stop at the sign. That is corruption.

BernardL, Taken had the shootin' and killin' that Gran Torino didn't have. But I still liked the Clint movie too.

SQT said...

Lot of great comments on this thread-- not much for me to add.

Here in California the big revenue-generating ticket is the cell-phone one. I don't mind that one, only because it's a pain driving behind someone when they're on the phone. Dangerous too.

But the speed traps are infuriating. One guy in my husband's office noticed that on one of the main thoroughfares in town the speed limit is different in either direction. 55 one way, 45 the other. There's no reason for that other than to generate tickets.

Aimlesswriter said...

Taken was an excellent movie! And very scary. One of Liam's best movies.

Michelle's Spell said...

Hey Charles,

Couldn't agree more. I'm pretty much a libertarian and can't stand rules to protect myself from myself. Sometimes I feel like all the focus is on money -- not capturing truly evil people who harm others. You get more time for drug possession in Texas than most sexual assault charges. What a comfort.

Rick said...

Nice job of blending the movie "Taken" into corruption! Just for fun, you could have thrown in the Internal Revenue Service, though.

Charles Gramlich said...

SQT, yes, that one they haven't started enforcing here but I wouldn't mind it. So damn irritating when you're behind someone like that.

Aimless Writer, yes, I thought he did a really good job. I liked his character a lot.

Michelle, I think it all is about money and the catching of truly nasty criimnals is like a side project. Hey gravy if it happens but don't let it get in the way of raking cash.

Rick, the IRS, now there's a racket for sure.

Travis Cody said...

Drat...I meant to pick that movie up this past weekend and I forgot.

Greg said...

Amen, brother! Those in charge of police departments seem to be either corrupt or incompetent. not sure which is worse....

Glad to hear "Taken" was good. I want to see it but haven't gotten around to it yet. Now I definitely will.

ivan said...

I tried to write about authority figures gone wrong in my novel, The Hat People.
I didn't do a good enough job.
I think your exposistion here, short and to the point, is much better in getting to the heart of the matter.

Anonymous said...

Fuckin' A Charles. Still think "Taken" moved along just a little too fast.


Randy Johnson said...

Yes, speed traps are money factories. A few years back, I got a ticket for speeding(I was passing a slow driver and reduced speed as soon as I got back in my lane).
When I got in court, it was like an assembly line. A large group of us were waiting. When your name was called, you stood, the clerk read the charges, the judge said, "You've been accused of IMPROPER equipment. How do you plead?" You say guilty, are handed a paper, report to the payment office and hand over a hundred bucks. Done, no points on your license, total time once "court" starts about fifteen minutes.

Charles Gramlich said...

Travis, worth seeing. It's still on ppv here.

Greg Schwartz, yeah, at least the corrupt ones sometimes arrest the criminals that don't pay 'em. sigh!

ivan, I should use that as an element in my stories one of these days. The corruption of governemnt forces has not played a role. Of course, I'm usually writing stories where there ain't much government.

Wil, there were some times I could have stood a little "slow mo" in Taken for sure.

Randy Johnson, yep, the first time that "improper equipment" thing happened to me I thought they were being nice. Then I realized it was so there wouldn't be any real cost of a trial or a fight and you'd just pay your money and go. The assembly line aspect is an apt metaphor.

cs harris said...

I'll have to give Taken a try. And I agree on the police priorities. Kill a clerk at the local convenience store and they execute you; kill a thousand people by polluting the atmosphere and you're a respected citizen.

Cloudia said...

You are SO right!
Police prefer easy targets, and the good ones are often ostracised by the worst.....better than they used to be...barely!

Comfort Spiral

Charles Gramlich said...

Candy, that's definitely been the story since the dawn of the industrial revolution.

Cloudia, weak get the shaft. Always has been.

Barrie said...

Hmmm....I do like Liam Neeson...

jodi said...

Charles, WM gave the perfect Detroit slant and I agree with Wil that it SPED along too fast at times. It was a wake up call to my trusting naaive head and I will travel a little more cautiously from what I learned.

Barbara Martin said...

Gran Torino I liked, but have not seen Taken.

Charles Gramlich said...

Barrie, like I said to someone else. It sure is good that there are women who like ugly men.

jodi, Taken made me want to read a bit of an action book. I'm going to try a David Morrell.

Barbara Martin, it was pretty frenetic but I enjoyed it.

BernardL said...

We finally watched our rented copy of 'Taken' last night. That was REALLY good. :)

Ello - Ellen Oh said...

very sad to hear about the law enforcement agencies own problems when we are so dependent on them.

Charles Gramlich said...

BernardL, I would have bet you'd like it. Since we got it on ppv, I watched it over a second time right after the first, and I don't often do that.

Ello, like they say, who watches the watchers?