Taken (film)

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The word TAKEN written vertically in red, alongside a man is running towards the viewer.
French theatrical release poster
Directed by Pierre Morel
Produced by Luc Besson
Written by Luc Besson
Robert Mark Kamen
Starring Liam Neeson
Maggie Grace
Leland Orser
Jon Gries
David Warshofsky
Holly Valance
Katie Cassidy
Xander Berkeley
Olivier Rabourdin
Gérard Watkins
Famke Janssen
Music by Nathaniel Méchaly
Cinematography Michel Abramowicz
Edited by Frédéric Thoraval
Distributed by EuropaCorp Distribution
20th Century Fox
Release dates
  • 27 February 2008 (2008-02-27) (France)
  • 30 January 2009 (2009-01-30) (USA)
Running time
90 minutes[1]
Country France[2][3]
Language English
Budget $25 million[4]
Box office $226.8 million[4]

Taken is a 2008 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 installment 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.[5][6][7][8][9][10] The film was met with mixed critical response, but was a financial success, earning over $226 million at the box office.


Recently retired CIA field operative Bryan Mills attempts to build a closer relationship with his teenage daughter, Kim, who lives with her mother, Lenore, and her wealthy stepfather, Stuart. While working security at a concert with his fellow former CIA operatives, Bryan saves pop star Sheerah from a knife-wielding assailant. Sheerah, grateful, offers to assess Kim's talent as a singer. Before Bryan tells Kim about Sheerah's offer, she asks her father for his permission to travel to Paris with her friend, Amanda. Bryan initially refuses, but relents after Lenore pressures him. At the airport, Bryan is dismayed to discover the girls are actually following U2 during their European tour, something Lenore knew but kept from him.

Upon arrival at Charles de Gaulle International Airport, Kim and Amanda meet a Parisian local named Peter; his offer to share a cab is a ruse to learn their address. At the apartment, Kim discovers that Amanda's cousins, who are supposed to chaperone them, are out of the country. While Kim talks to Bryan on the phone, she witnesses Amanda being abducted by intruders from the bathroom window. Kim complies with her father's instructions as Bryan records the incident. As Kim is abducted, the unknown abductor picks up the phone and Bryan unsuccessfully tries to negotiate with him, then threatens him. The only response is "Good luck" before the call is terminated.

Sam, Bryan's former CIA colleague, informs him that, based on the recording, Kim was taken by an Albanian human trafficking syndicate. Supplying Bryan with more information about the syndicate, Sam also identifies Marko Hoxha as the man who replied the "good luck" phrase. When Sam informs Lenore about the illegal operations of the syndicate, he also adds that on statistical analysis, Kim will never be found if she is not rescued within four days. Bryan flies to Paris using Stuart’s private jet and, after investigating the apartment where the abduction took place, he locates Peter at the airport. After a confrontation and chase, Peter is hit and killed by a passing truck before Bryan can interrogate him.

After a snack break, Bryan meets Jean-Claude Pitrel, a former field agent for the French Intelligence who now works a desk job in the same agency. Though deliberately unhelpful due to knowing that Bryan will wreak havoc, Jean-Claude tips him of a district where prostitution is rampant. With the aid of an Albanian-English translator, Bryan trails a construction site where Albanians prostitute teens in a makeshift brothel. There he finds a girl with Kim’s jacket. Fighting off the brothel guards, he escapes with the girl. Checking in at a hotel owned by an old friend, he administers medication to the rescued girl.

The next morning, after Bryan speaks with Jean-Claude, the rescued girl tells Bryan about a house where she met Kim. Bryan bluffs his way in by using Jean-Claud Pitrels' business card, and after a brief negotiation and conversation, he identifies Marko Hoxha, the kidnapper he spoke to on the phone. A fight ensues, wherein Bryan murders all the gangsters, except Marko. Searching the house, he finds several unconscious and dead captive teens, including Amanda, who died from a forced heroin overdose. Using a makeshift electric chair, Bryan tortures Marko with applications of lethal currents. Marko reveals that many virgins like Kim are a valuable commodity on the black market. After Marko mentions of an auctioneer named Patrice Saint-Clair, whom Kim was sold to, Bryan leaves him to die by electrocution. Later that evening, Bryan visits Jean-Claude for dinner. When Jean-Claude refuses to give Saint-Clair's address, Bryan, upon discovering Jean-Claude's corruption, coerces him to do so by threatening to murder his wife.

Bryan infiltrates Saint-Clair's mansion, where girls, including Kim, are being auctioned under the guise of a party in progress. After Bryan forces a Middle Eastern bidder to purchase Kim, he is captured but frees himself, killing Saint-Clair henchmen and forcing Saint-Clair to reveal where Kim has been taken before killing him. Bryan races to a luxury yacht owned by a sheikh named Raman. Jumping aboard, Bryan kills all the henchmen including the sheikh and rescues Kim. They return to the U.S. where she is reunited with her mother and stepfather. Afterward, Bryan takes Kim to see pop singer Sheerah for her first singing audition.



The film was produced by Luc Besson's EuropaCorp.[11] Besson and Morel had previously collaborated on District B13.[12]in addition Morel had previously worked as a director of photography previously for Besson.[12] Besson pitched the idea of Taken one night over dinner and Morel immediately became attached to the idea of a father fighting to protect his daughter. [12] Neeson took the role, desiring to play a more physically demanding role than he was used to. He expected the film to be a "little side road" for his career, expecting the film to be released directly to video.[13]


The score of the film was composed by Nathaniel Méchaly and released on January 27, 2009.[14]

Taken: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Film score by Nathaniel Méchaly
Released 29 January 2009 (2009-01-29)
Recorded 2008
Genre Film score
Length 45:50
Label Razor & Tie

Track listing[edit]

All songs written and composed by Nathaniel Méchaly except where noted.[15][16]

Taken (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
No. Title Length
1. "Opening"   0:52
2. "Change" (Written and performed by Joy Denalane featuring Lupe Fiasco) 4:12
3. "Permission to Go to Paris"   1:11
4. "To the Airport"   1:10
5. "The Concert"   0:53
6. "There's Somebody Here"   3:22
7. "Pursuit at Roissy"   1:07
8. "On the Rooftop"   1:40
9. "96 Hours"   6:01
10. "The Construction Site"   2:04
11. "Pursuit at the Construction Site"   1:25
12. "Saving Amanda"   1:14
13. "Escape From St Clair"   1:38
14. "Tick Tick, Boom" (Written and performed by The Hives) 3:24
15. "Hotel Camelia"   1:38
16. "The Auction"   1:38
17. "Pursuit by the Seine"   3:15
18. "On the Boat"   1:05
19. "The Last Fight"   1:52
20. "The Dragster Wave" (Written and performed by Ghinzu) 6:09
Total length:


A trailer of Taken was released on June 20, 2008.[17] The film saw its release on February 27 in France, April 9 in China, 26 September in UK in the year of 2008, while the film was released on January 30 in United States and August 22 in Japan in the year of 2009.[18] The film was released under the title of "96 Hours" in Germany, "Io vi troverò" in Italy, "Заложница" in Russia.[18]

Box office[edit]

At the end of its box office run, Taken earned a gross of $145,000,989 in the North America, and $81,829,579 in other territories, for a worldwide total of $226,830,568 against a production budget of $25 million.[4]

On its opening day in the North America, the film grossed $9.4 million, scoring the best opening day ever for Super Bowl weekend.[19] It went on to make $24.7 million during its opening weekend playing in 3,183 theaters, with a $7,765 per-theatre average and ranking #1, 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).[20] The film is also the highest grossing among the Taken Film series in North America.[21]

The biggest market in other territories being South Korea, UK, France, Australia and Spain where the film grossed $15.47 million, $11.27 million, $9.43 million, $6.28 million, and $5.46 million respectively.[22]

Critical response[edit]

Taken was met with mixed reviews from critics. Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a rating of 58%, based on 168 reviews, with an average rating of 5.8/10. The site's consensus states, "Taken is undeniably fun with slick action, but is largely a brainless exercise."[23] On Metacritic, the film has a score of 50 out of 100, based on 31 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[24]

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."[25] 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.[26] 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."[27]

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".[28]

CinemaScore polls conducted during the opening weekend, cinema audiences gave the film an average grade of "A-" on an A+ to F scale.[29]

Home media[edit]

Taken was released as "Taken (Single-Disc Extended Edition)" on DVDs on May 12, 2009 and on Blu-ray Discs on December 9, 2014. The film also saw release of "Taken (Two-Disc Extended Edition)" on DVDs and Blu-ray Discs on May 12, 2009.[30] As of 5 February 2015, the film has sold 5,388,963 DVDs and 607,073 Blu-ray Discs and grossing $79,798,171 and $10,069,116 respectively totaling $89,867,287 in North America.[31]


Fraud case

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 actually 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.[32]

In other media[edit]

  • 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?"
  • 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 Penny, Mr. Fitzgerald thinks Gumball is being disrespectful to him due to his changing voice, and threatens Gumball by repeating Bryan Mills' phone speech in a threatening voice. Later in the episode, Mr. Fitzgerald drives up to Gumball from his car and says the Bryan Mills line to him once more, but he is quickly cut off by Gumball when he rolls up his car window, locks the door, and slams it shut in his face.


Main articles: Taken 2 and Taken 3

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, Grace, Gries, Rabourdin and Orser reprising their roles from the first film.[34][35][36]

On 29 March 2014, principal photography began on a third Taken film. This is intended to be the final installment in the Taken film series.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ http://www.bbfc.co.uk/releases/taken-1
  2. ^ "Taken". Variety. 4 April 2010. Retrieved 14 April 2012. [dead link]
  3. ^ Buchanan, Jason. "Taken". Allrovi. Retrieved 14 April 2012. 
  4. ^ a b c "Taken (2009)". Box Office Mojo. IMDB. Retrieved 2014-10-06. 
  5. ^ Franich, Darren (2012-01-30). "Is Liam Neeson really an action star?". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2012-07-06. 
  6. ^ Hynes, Eric (2012-01-26). "Nearing 60, Liam Neeson, Action Star, Has Finally Arrived". Phoenix New Times. Retrieved 2012-07-06. 
  7. ^ Weinstein, Joshua L. (2012-01-31). "Liam Neeson Is an Action Star -- 'The Grey' Proves It". TheWrap.com. Retrieved 2012-07-06. 
  8. ^ Tobias, Scott (2012-01-30). "Weekend Box Office: Liam Neeson marks his territory". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 2012-07-06. 
  9. ^ Rich, Katey (2012-05-17). "First Look At Liam Neeson Breaking Necks In Taken 2". Cinema Blend. Retrieved 2012-07-06. 
  10. ^ Pearson, Ben (2012-06-21). "Liam Neeson Kicks More Ass in International Trailer for 'Taken 2'". Myspace. Retrieved 2012-07-06. 
  11. ^ Jaafar, Ali; Keslassy, Elsa (21 November 2008). "New French wave prefers genre films". Variety. Retrieved 1 February 2009. 
  12. ^ a b c Douglas, Edward. "Exclusive: Pierre Morel Talks Taken". Comingsoon.net. Retrieved 10 January 2015. 
  13. ^ Hainey, Michael. "The GQ Cover Story: Liam Neeson". GQ. p. 1. Retrieved 12 January 2015. 
  14. ^ "Taken Soundtrack". last.fm. Retrieved February 7, 2015. 
  15. ^ "Taken (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)". amazon.com. Amazon.com. Retrieved 6 February 2015. 
  16. ^ "Taken Soundtrack". cduniverse.com. Retrieved February 7, 2015. 
  17. ^ "Taken trailer". traileraddict.com. Retrieved February 7, 2015. 
  18. ^ a b "Taken Release". imdb.com. IMDB. Retrieved February 7, 2015. 
  19. ^ McClintock, Pamela (2009-01-31). "Box office crown 'Taken' by Fox". Variety. Retrieved 2009-02-01. 
  20. ^ Gray, Brandon (2009-02-01). "'Taken' Captures Super Bowl Weekend". Retrieved 2012-10-28. 
  21. ^ "Taken Series". boxofficemojo.com. IMDB. Retrieved February 7, 2015. 
  22. ^ "Taken International box office". boxofficemojo.com. IMDB. Retrieved February 7, 2015. 
  23. ^ "Taken (2009)". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved 25 September 2014. 
  24. ^ "Taken". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 7 October 2012. 
  25. ^ Corliss, Richard (29 January 2009). "'Taken: The French Disconnection". Time. Retrieved 19 September 2013. 
  26. ^ Kois, Dan (30 January 2009). "Movie Review: The Thriller 'Taken,' With Liam Neeson". The Washington Post. 
  27. ^ Elley, Derek (2008-03-13). "Taken". Variety. Retrieved 2009-01-31. 
  28. ^ Turan, Kenneth (2009-01-30). "'Taken'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2009-01-31. 
  29. ^ "Cinemascore". cinemascore.com/. Retrieved February 7, 2015. 
  30. ^ "Taken DVD release". dvdsreleasedates.com. Retrieved February 7, 2015. 
  31. ^ "Taken". the-numbers.com. Retrieved February 7, 2015. 
  32. ^ "Reputed counter-terrorism expert pleads guilty". Military Times. 2011-04-11. 
  33. ^ McFarland, Kevin (7 May 2012). "Leggo My Meg-O". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 7 May 2012. 
  34. ^ "Are We Going To Be Taken Again?". The Film Stage. 10 June 2010. Retrieved 10 June 2010. 
  35. ^ "Liam Neeson Confirmed For Taken 2" Empire. 17 March 2011.
  36. ^ "Maggie Grace Confirmed for 'Taken 2'" /Film. 6 April 2011.

External links[edit]