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 20th Century Fox (US)
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 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 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 earned more than $226 million at the box office.


Retired CIA preventer Bryan Mills loves his daughter Kim dearly. Kim lives with her mother Lenore and wealthy stepfather Stewart. However much Bryan tries to please his daughter, Stewart always upstages him, showering Kim with extravagant items. One evening, Bryan along with his CIA colleagues, are providing security at a concert for pop star Sheerah. However things take a bad turn, as a violent fan tries to attack her, but Bryan quickly subdues the attacker. To show her gratitude, Sheerah offers to evaluate Kim's music skills. Bryan is overjoyed as he knows how much music means to Kim. However before Bryan can tell her the good news, Kim asks her father for his permission for her to go to Paris with her good friend Amanda. Originally Bryan is hesitant and refuses, but he agrees after Lenore berates him, Bryan still not feeling at ease, gives Kim instructions on what to do when she reaches France. At the airport, Bryan comes to realize that the girls are secretly following band U2 around their European tour. He asks Lenore about it, and she tells Bryan that Kim would know he would worry for no reason, and kept it from him.

Upon arriving at Charles de Gaulle International Airport, Kim and Amanda meet a native to France named Peter. Peter's taxi sharing and party routine are actually a devised plan for the trafficking of young women from abroad. Kim and Amanda arrive at Amanda's cousin's apartment, only to find out that her cousins are currently in Spain. Kim makes a call to her father, and he demands to know why she couldn't call him when she landed, but before she can answer, she witnesses Amanda being abducted by a group of men. Kim immediately tells her father about the incident and Bryan gives her instructions on what to do next, he tells her that she must hide under the bed in the nearest bedroom. Bryan tells her that she will be taken, and that she needs to exclaim as many physical and facial features as possible. Shortly after she is dragged from underneath the bed and complies with her father's instructions. One of the abductors picks up Kim's phone and Bryan threatens him and the other kidnappers, but the abductor simply replies with Good luck and ends the call.

Bryan rushes to Lenore and Stewart's house, where he tells them about the recent events. He contacts one of his colleagues named Sam, who deduces that the abductor's voice belongs to member of illegal Albanian sex trafficking operations. He also tells Bryan that there will most likely never be a chance of finding Kim after four days, leaving Lenore distraught. Bryan demands the use of Stewart's jet for a one way flight to Paris. Once arriving in Paris, Bryan reaches the apartment where Kim and Amanda were taken. He reconstructs the crime scene and also finds Kim's phone, where he finds images of Peter at the airport. He rushes to find Peter at the airport and eliminates one of the other scouts while there. Peter tries to escape on foot with Bryan in close pursuit in a taxi. However as Bryan goes to question Peter, he is hit by a truck and killed.

Bryan then enlists help of a former French intelligence officer named Jean-Claude Pitrel. Pitrel, fearing about what Bryan will do, informs about a local red-light district where he may find some answers. Reaching the location, he approaches a girl and hassles her in order to attract the pimp's attention, who then attacks Bryan and he sneaks a small sound device on him. He uses a translator's help to deduce what the pimps may be discussing, and realises that their base of operations are in an abandoned construction yard. He then dismisses the translator and heads to the site. At the site, he finds a a girl with Kim's jacket. A gunfight ensures as Bryan takes the girl with him back to a hotel owned by a friend of his. Where he treats her with medications and medical equipment, in an attempt to withdrawal her from the drugs effect.

The following morning, Bryan queries her about where she got the jacket from and if she knows who Kim is.He learns that there is a safehouse in Paris the Albanians keep he abducted girls. He reaches the safehouse and poses as Pitrel. He explains that he is interested in a purchase and re-negotiation of the trafficking business. He enters a room with the leaders of the organization and recognizes the abductor from Kim's description known as Marko. He cleverly makes Marko utter the words Good luck and confirms his identity as Kim's father. A gunfight ensures and Bryan subdues Marko. He then proceeds to search for Kim, but only finds dead girls, including Amanda. Bryan is sorrowful as she and Kim are so similar. He creates a makeshift electrical chair and tortures Marko for more information. He finds out that Kim was sold immediately after being abducted, and is now in the possession of buyer Patrice Saint-Clair. Bryan then leaves Marko to die from electrocution in essence of retribution. Bryan deduces that Pitrel knows the location of Saint-Clair. In a guise of visiting the family for dinner, he wounds Pitrel's wife and demands the location of Saint-Clair, which he reluctantly gives.

Bryan attends the auction in the depths of Saint-Clair's manor. He finds the auction room and finds Kim just in time. He forces an Arab bidder to purchase him by pointing a gun to his head. He then heads out of the auction room to find Kim, but is knocked unconscious by one of Saint-Clair's guards. He wakes up and finds himself chained to a pipe and is about to be executed. However he escapes an eliminates all of his captors. He then finds Saint-Clair and shoots him multiple times. Saint-Clair then reluctantly tells Bryan of the yacht which is owned by a sheikh named Raman, and where all of the auctioned girls are being sent. Following this, Bryan executes Saint-Clair.

Bryan steals an Audi and goes after the yacht. He eventually boards it and takes out all the guards and the bidder. He bursts into the sheikh's private quarters where he finds the sheikh holding Kim at knifepoint. However Bryan manages to kill him with no remorse, and finally reunites with Kim.

Bryan and Kim return to the U.S. Where Lenore and Stewart are ecstatic to reunite with her. Lenore and Stewart thank Bryan for what he has done, and she is brought home. At a later time, Bryan takes Kim for a surprise, which is revealed to be her audition with Sheerah. The film ends with Kim beginning to play the piano.



The film was produced by Luc Besson's EuropaCorp.[11] Pierre Morel had previously worked as a director of photography for Besson, and they had also collaborated on Morel's directorial debut, District B13. 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] Jeff Bridges was first cast as Bryan Mills, but after he dropped out of the project, Liam Neeson accepted the part, desiring to play a more physically demanding role than he was used to. Neeson at first thought the film to be no more than a "little side road" for his career, expecting it 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]

Taken grossed $145 million in the North America and $81.8 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $226.8 million, 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]

Rotten Tomatoes gave the film an approval rating of 58% based on 168 reviews, with an average rating is 5.8/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "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 arts 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]


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 his family and him. 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", 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 scary 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 Gumball quickly cuts him off 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.[38][39][40]

On 29 March 2014, principal photography began on a third Taken film. It premiered in Berlin on 16 December 2014.

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. ^ 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. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nT5CNaHchPY
  35. ^ Gruff, Jeff (February 6, 2015). "Liam Neeson's Clash of Clan's spot is the most viewed Super Bowl ad on YouTube". VentureBeat. Retrieved February 28, 2015. 
  36. ^ Grubb, Jeff (February 13, 2015). "YouTube viewers voted Liam Neeson's Clash of Clans spot the No. 2 Super Bowl ad". VentureBeat. Retrieved February 28, 2015. 
  37. ^ Chitwood, Adam (February 2, 2015). "Watch This Year's Best Super Bowl Commercials". Collider.com. Retrieved February 5, 2015. 
  38. ^ "Are We Going To Be Taken Again?". The Film Stage. 10 June 2010. Retrieved 10 June 2010. 
  39. ^ "Liam Neeson Confirmed For Taken 2" Empire. 17 March 2011.
  40. ^ "Maggie Grace Confirmed for 'Taken 2'" /Film. 6 April 2011.

External links[edit]