Taken (film)

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The word TAKEN written vertically in red, alongside a man is running towards the viewer.
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Pierre Morel
Produced by Luc Besson
Written by Luc Besson
Robert Mark Kamen
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) (United States)
Running time
90 minutes[1]
Country France[2][3]
Language English
Budget $25,000,000 [4]
Box office $226,830,568[4]

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.[5][6][7][8][9][10]


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.

At the Paris airport, Kim and Amanda meet a stranger 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 talking to Bryan, on the phone, Kim witnesses Amanda being kidnapped by intruders in another part of the apartment. Kim is also taken as Bryan records the incident. When a kidnapper picks up the phone, Bryan unsuccessfully tries to negotiate with him, then threatens him.

Bryan's former CIA colleague informs him that, based on the recording, Kim was probably taken by an Albanian human trafficking ring. Statistically, if Kim is not rescued within four days, she likely will never be found. Bryan flies to Paris on Stuart’s private jet and locates Peter at the airport. After a confrontation and chase, Peter is hit and killed by a passing truck before Bryan can interrogate him.

Bryan seeks out Jean-Claude, a former field agent colleague. Jean-Claude is deliberately unhelpful, knowing Bryan will wreak havoc. Bryan discovers where Albanians are prostituting teens in a makeshift brothel at a construction site. There he finds a girl with Kim’s jacket. Fighting off the brothel guards, he escapes with the girl.

The girl tells Bryan about a house where she met Kim. Bryan bluffs his way in and kills the thugs inside, sparing only Marko, the kidnapper he spoke to on the phone. Searching the house, he finds several captive teens, including Amanda, who is dead from a forced drug overdose. Bryan tortures Marko who reveals that Kim, being a virgin, is a valuable commodity on the black market and was sold to an auctioneer named Saint-Clair. Bryan electrocutes Marko, then visits Jean-Claude. Bryan, knowing Jean-Claude is corrupt, forces him to reveal Saint-Clair's address.

Bryan infiltrates Saint-Clair's mansion where girls, including Kim, are being auctioned. Bryan is captured but frees himself, killing Saint-Clair’s security guards and forcing Saint-Clair to reveal where Kim has been taken before killing him. Bryan races to a luxury yacht owned by a sheikh. Jumping aboard, Bryan kills the men aboard 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 lesson.



The film was produced by Luc Besson's EuropaCorp.[11]


Critical response[edit]

Review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes gives the film holds a score of 58% based on reviews from 168 critics, with an average rating of 5.8 out of 10, and the site's consensus states: "Taken is undeniably fun with slick action, but is largely a brainless exercise."[12] 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".[13]

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."[14] 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.[15] 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."[16]

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".[17]

Box office[edit]

On its opening day in the United States, the film grossed $9.4 million, scoring the best opening day ever for Super Bowl weekend.[18] 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).[19] The film grossed $145,000,989 in the U.S. and Canada, and $81,829,579 internationally, for a worldwide total of $226,830,568.[4]

Taken was released on DVD in May 2009. As of March 2011, 4,426,766 copies of the film had been sold generating US$68,544,181 in sales.[20]


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, and Grace reprising their roles from the first film.[21][22][23]

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.

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 Brian Mills' phone speech in a threatening voice. Later in the episode, Mr. Fitzgerald drives up to Gumball from his Car and says the Brian 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.

Fraud case[edit]

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.[25]

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. ^ "Taken (2009)". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved 25 September 2014. 
  13. ^ "Taken". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 7 October 2012. 
  14. ^ Corliss, Richard (29 January 2009). "'Taken: The French Disconnection". Time. Retrieved 19 September 2013. 
  15. ^ Kois, Dan (30 January 2009). "Movie Review: The Thriller 'Taken,' With Liam Neeson". The Washington Post. 
  16. ^ Elley, Derek (2008-03-13). "Taken". Variety. Retrieved 2009-01-31. 
  17. ^ Turan, Kenneth (2009-01-30). "'Taken'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2009-01-31. 
  18. ^ McClintock, Pamela (2009-01-31). "Box office crown 'Taken' by Fox". Variety. Retrieved 2009-02-01. 
  19. ^ Gray, Brandon (2009-02-01). "'Taken' Captures Super Bowl Weekend". Retrieved 2012-10-28. 
  20. ^ Taken. The Numbers. Retrieved 2010-12-25.
  21. ^ "Are We Going To Be Taken Again?". The Film Stage. 10 June 2010. Retrieved 10 June 2010. 
  22. ^ "Liam Neeson Confirmed For Taken 2" Empire. 17 March 2011.
  23. ^ "Maggie Grace Confirmed for 'Taken 2'" /Film. 6 April 2011.
  24. ^ McFarland, Kevin (7 May 2012). "Leggo My Meg-O". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 7 May 2012. 
  25. ^ "Reputed counter-terrorism expert pleads guilty". Military Times. 2011-04-11. 

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