Preview, do, recap

An oft repeated maxim about presentations is "Tell the audience what you're going to say, say it; then tell them what you've said." Or its variant: "Tell them what you're going to tell them; tell them; then tell them what you told them." It sounds almost too rigid to be useful, but as we all know there's often something useful in the banal. 

Liam Neeson's character in the Taken movies takes this advice to heart. Genre movies are ones in which we know going on what will happen, broadly, and so you grant audience pleasure by fulfilling expectations, not by subverting them (like pop music). Taken and Taken 2 are nothing if not genre movies.

So it's very pleasing to have Liam Neeson's character state his thesis up front in each movie, as if giving a Toastmasters speech. Not surprisingly, the quotes are featured in the trailers for each movie. They succinctly and elegantly sum up for the viewer that their expectations will be fulfilled with great economy. These are not movies that will waste much time with character development or other high art duties that will slow the narrative pace.

In each movie, Neeson's character explains what is going to happen to his daughter Kim (Maggie Grace). But he is really speaking to the audience, letting them know that he knows what type of movie they should expect, that he is in on the joke with them. The audience already knows what will happen in each movie (these are genre movies, after all) and Neeson acknowledges that the movie will fulfill their expectations.

From Taken:

I don't know who you are. I don't know what you want. If you are looking for ransom, I can tell you I don't have money. But what I do have are a very particular set of skills; skills I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you. If you let my daughter go now, that'll be the end of it. I will not look for you, I will not pursue you. But if you don't, I will look for you, I will find you, and I will kill you.

From Taken 2:

Liam Neeson: Listen to me carefully, Kim. Your mother; is going to be taken. And people are gonna come for you to. 

Kim: What are you gonna do? 

Liam Neeson: What I do best. 

If nothing else, these moments make the life of the person cutting the trailer a lot easier. Incidentally, Taken 2 was not very good. Even if the audience knows what's coming, it still matters how you give them what they want.