Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Pierre Morel|
|Produced by||Luc Besson|
|Written by||Luc Besson
Robert Mark Kamen
|Music by||Nathaniel Méchaly|
|Edited by||Frédéric Thoraval|
|Distributed by||EuropaCorp Distribution
20th Century Fox
|Running time||93 minutes|
Taken is a 2008 English-language French action thriller film directed by Pierre Morel, written by Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen, and starring Liam Neeson, Maggie Grace, Leland Orser, Jon Gries, David Warshofsky, Holly Valance, Katie Cassidy, Xander Berkeley, Olivier Rabourdin, Gérard Watkins, and Famke Janssen. It is the first film in the Taken film series.
Neeson plays a former CIA operative named Bryan Mills who sets about tracking down his daughter after she is kidnapped by human traffickers for sexual slavery while traveling in France. Numerous media outlets have cited the film as a turning point in Neeson's career that redefined and transformed him to an action film star.
Former U.S. Central Intelligence Agency operative Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) tries to have a closer relationship with his 17-year-old daughter, Kim (Maggie Grace). She lives with her mother, Lenore (Famke Janssen), and her wealthy stepfather, Stuart (Xander Berkeley), in California; he feels embarrassed about her stepfather spoiling her, and wishes to spend time with her. While working as security at a concert with former colleagues, Bryan saves a pop star Sheerah (Holly Valance) from an assailant as she exits the stage and begins for her limo outside of the stadium. Sheerah, grateful about being saved, agrees to tutor Kim after Bryan says she aspires to be a singer. Kim asks Bryan for permission to travel to Paris with her friend Amanda (Katie Cassidy). Bryan balks at the two girls travelling alone, but relents when Lenore -his ex-wife- complains that he is overprotective. He gives Kim an international cellphone, and makes her promise to call every day. At Los Angeles International Airport, he learns that the girls are not staying in Paris, but are following U2 during their European tour.
Arriving in Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport, Kim and Amanda meet Peter (Nicolas Giraud), a scout for a kidnapping gang, who offers to share a cab with them and so learns where they are staying. Kim believes they are staying with Amanda's cousins but, upon arriving at the apartment, learns that the cousins are actually in Spain, and becomes slightly nervous. She retains herself in a quiet room while her friend presents loud music on her stereo not too far away. While talking to Bryan on the phone in the bathroom, Kim sees Amanda being kidnapped by intruders. Bryan instructs her to go to the nearest room and hide under a bed. He explains that when the men find her, she has to shout out their physical descriptions. Kim is pulled out violently from under the bed, and she complies with her father's instructions before the phone is found. Bryan warns the person over the phone that they have this one chance to release his daughter, or else he will begin hunting them down and killing them. He's told "good luck" and the connection is terminated.
Bryan informs Stuart and Lenore of Kim's abduction. Bryan's former colleague Sam (Leland Orser) tells him that based on the recording, Kim has probably been taken by an Albanian human trafficking ring that has recently begun abducting female tourists, and that if she is not rescued within ninety-six hours, she will likely never be found. Bryan travels to Paris in a private jet paid for by Stuart and finds Peter at the airport attempting to lure another tourist. After a confrontation and chase, Peter is hit and killed by a passing truck before Bryan can interrogate him.
Bryan then seeks out his old friend, Jean-Claude Pitrel (Olivier Rabourdin), a former French intelligence officer who now works a desk job. Jean-Claude is relatively unhelpful but does direct Bryan to Porte de Clichy, where an East European gang are rumored to be prostituting women. Jean-Claude afterwards has the police put a tail on Bryan and soon warns Bryan that his vigilante methods will result in him being deported, but Bryan avoids arrest. Bryan follows one gangster to a brothel at a construction site, where he finds a girl wearing Kim's jacket. He fights off the brothel guards and escapes with the girl. After the girl awakens, she gives Bryan enough information about the house where she met Kim to allow him to find it.
Bryan confronts the Albanians, and identifies the kidnapper on the phone as Marko (Arben Bajraktaraj). He wounds Marko and kills the others. Searching the house, he finds several captive teens, including Amanda, who is dead from an apparent overdose. In the basement of the house, Bryan straps Marko into a makeshift electric chair and tortures him into divulging Kim's location; as a virgin, she was very valuable on the black market, and was sold to an auctioneer named Patrice Saint-Clair (Gérard Watkins). Bryan leaves Marko to suffer, as he becomes electrocuted to death, leaving him to visit Jean-Claude at home. Having deduced that Jean-Claude is taking kickbacks from the kidnappers, he extracts Saint-Clair's home address by threatening to kill his wife.
Bryan infiltrates Saint-Clair's mansion, where a large party is the facade for an auction of girls in the basement. At this time he realizes that he is running out of time, as he runs through the hallways of the building in attempt to reach his destination. He reaches a sophisticated room, where behind glass he can see women being purchased by a man in a leather chair in front of him. After several woman get bought, the 'final attraction' enters the room, and Bryan recognises her as his daughter. Bryan pulls a gun on the man in the chair in front of him, ordering him to purchase his daughter, but is knocked out after he leaves the room. Bryan awakes to find himself chained to a pipe in a boiler room. Several men stand around him, and he is confronted about his identity by Saint-Clair. When he leaves the room, Bryan frees himself and kills Saint-Clair's henchmen. He finds Saint-Clair in the elevator by the hall where he was recently freed from. He forces Saint-Clair to reveal where Kim has been taken before shooting him in the head and leaving his body to be found by guests. Bryan races to the luxury yacht owned by a prince named Raman (Nabil Massad) and boards it. There, he kills the boat's guards, confronts Raman in his boudoir, and shoots him in the head - thus rescuing his daughter. They both return to the U.S. where Kim is reunited with her mother and stepfather. Afterward, Bryan takes Kim to see Sheerah for her first singing lesson.
- Liam Neeson as Bryan Mills
- Maggie Grace as Kim Mills
- Famke Janssen as Lenore "Lennie" Mills
- Leland Orser as Sam
- Jon Gries as Casey
- David Warshofsky as Bernie
- Holly Valance as Sheerah
- Katie Cassidy as Amanda
- Xander Berkeley as Stuart
- Olivier Rabourdin as Jean-Claude Pitrel
- Gérard Watkins as Patrice Saint-Clair
- Arben Bajraktaraj as Marko
- Camille Japy as Isabelle
- Nicolas Giraud as Peter
- Goran Kostić as Gregor
- Nabil Massad as Raman
The film holds a 58% score at the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes based on reviews from 168 critics, and reports a rating average of 5.8 out of 10, with the reported consensus: "Taken is undeniably fun with slick action, but is largely a brainless exercise." At Metacritic, which assigns a weighted average score out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the film received an average score of 50 based on 31 reviews, indicating "mixed or average reviews".
Richard Corliss of Time said the film "has nothing more on its mind than dozens of bad guys getting beat up and another one turned into instant roadkill." The Washington Post described the film as "a satisfying little thriller as grimly professional as its efficient hero" and likened the action to the Jason Bourne series. Derek Elley of Variety described the film as a "kick ass, pedal-to-the-metal actioner [...] that wisely doesn't give the viewer any time to ponder the string of unlikely coincidences [...] the film has the forward, devil-may-care momentum of a Bond film on steroids."
Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times described the film's premise as "unintentionally silly at times [...] Obviously, 'Taken' is not the kind of action film to spend much time worrying about its pedestrian script or largely indifferent acting, so it's fortunate to have Neeson in the starring role." Bryan Mills is characterized as "relentless attack machine who is impervious to fists, bullets and fast-moving cars, he uses a variety of martial skills to knock out more opponents than Mike Tyson and casually kill those he doesn't KO".
On its opening day in the United States, the film grossed $9.4 million, scoring the best opening day ever for Super Bowl weekend. It went on to make $24.7 million during its opening weekend, which was the second highest Super Bowl opening weekend, at the time, behind Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert Tour ($31.1 million). The film grossed $145,000,989 in the U.S. and Canada, and $81,829,579 overseas, for a worldwide total of $226,830,568.
In November 2010, Fox officially announced that Europacorp would produce a sequel directed by Olivier Megaton. The film was subsequently released in France on 3 October 2012, with Neeson, Janssen, and Grace reprising their roles from the first film.
In other media
- The plot of "Leggo My Meg-O", the twentieth episode of the tenth season of the TV series Family Guy, is based on Taken. In "Brian's a Bad Father", Brian mentions that having Zooey Deschanel cast as the daughter in Taken would be thinking outside the box. A cutaway gag then depicts Bryan Mills (reprised by Liam Neeson) instructing the kidnappers to send him the head of Zooey Deschanel.
- In "Hunt", a fifth season episode of the TV series Castle, when Richard Castle's daughter Alexis is kidnapped and taken to Paris, Castle follows and Det. Kevin Ryan asks, "Who does he think he is, Liam Neeson?"
- A Saturday Night Live opening sketch in March 2014 featured Liam Neeson reprising his character from the film in response to Vladimir Putin's invasion of the Ukraine and in defense of President Obama.[episode needed]
- In the animated Cartoon Network series, The Amazing World of Gumball in the episode "The Kids", when Gumball calls Mr. Fitzgerald and asks if he can talk to his daughter, Mr. Fitzgerald thinks Gumball is being disrespectful do to his changing voice, and threatens Gumball by repeating Brian Mills' phone speech in a threatening voice. Later in the episode, Fitzgerald says the Brian Mills line to Gumball once more, but is quickly cut off when Gumball locks his car door and slams it in his face.
In 2011, a self-proclaimed counter-terrorism expert who claimed the film was based on a real-life incident in which his daughter was killed was convicted of wire fraud. William G. Hillar, who pretended to be a retired Green Beret colonel, claimed to have spent more than 12 years lecturing US government agencies such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation on security issues. However, records revealed he had only been a radar operator in the Coast Guard Reserve between 1962 and 1970, and had never been in the US Army. Nevertheless his website claimed Taken was based on events involving him and his family. Hillar, who admitted the charges, was sentenced to 500 hours of community service at Maryland State Veteran Cemetery. He also agreed to repay $171,000 in speaking fees that he had received from various organizations to which he had presented himself as an expert in terrorism and human trafficking.
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- "Taken". Variety. 4 April 2010. Retrieved 14 April 2012.[dead link]
- Buchanan, Jason. "Taken". Allrovi. Retrieved 14 April 2012.
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- Hynes, Eric (2012-01-26). "Nearing 60, Liam Neeson, Action Star, Has Finally Arrived". Phoenix New Times. Retrieved 2012-07-06.
- Weinstein, Joshua L. (2012-01-31). "Liam Neeson Is an Action Star -- 'The Grey' Proves It". TheWrap.com. Retrieved 2012-07-06.
- Tobias, Scott (2012-01-30). "Weekend Box Office: Liam Neeson marks his territory". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 2012-07-06.
- Rich, Katey (2012-05-17). "First Look At Liam Neeson Breaking Necks In Taken 2". Cinema Blend. Retrieved 2012-07-06.
- Pearson, Ben (2012-06-21). "Liam Neeson Kicks More Ass in International Trailer for 'Taken 2'". Myspace. Retrieved 2012-07-06.
- Jaafar, Ali; Keslassy, Elsa (21 November 2008). "New French wave prefers genre films". Variety. Retrieved 1 February 2009.
- "Taken (2009)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 25 September 2014.
- "Taken". Metacritic. Retrieved 7 October 2012.
- Corliss, Richard (29 January 2009). "'Taken: The French Disconnection". Time. Retrieved 19 September 2013.
- Kois, Dan (30 January 2009). "Movie Review: The Thriller 'Taken,' With Liam Neeson". The Washington Post.
- Elley, Derek (2008-03-13). "Taken". Variety. Retrieved 2009-01-31.
- Turan, Kenneth (2009-01-30). "'Taken'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2009-01-31.
- McClintock, Pamela (2009-01-31). "Box office crown 'Taken' by Fox". Variety. Retrieved 2009-02-01.
- Gray, Brandon (2009-02-01). "'Taken' Captures Super Bowl Weekend". Retrieved 2012-10-28.
- Taken. The Numbers. Retrieved 2010-12-25.
- "Are We Going To Be Taken Again?". The Film Stage. 10 June 2010. Retrieved 10 June 2010.
- "Liam Neeson Confirmed For Taken 2" Empire. 17 March 2011.
- "Maggie Grace Confirmed for 'Taken 2'" /Film. 6 April 2011.
- McFarland, Kevin (7 May 2012). "Leggo My Meg-O". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 7 May 2012.
- "Reputed counter-terrorism expert pleads guilty". Military Times. 2011-04-11.
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