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 movie star despite having made a few notable appearances in that genre prior to this film.
The film was met with mixed critical response, but was a financial success, earning over $226 million at the box office. The film is widely credited with establishing Neeson as a credible action star.
Retired CIA field operative Bryan Mills attempts to build a closer relationship with his daughter, Kim, who lives with her mother, Lenore, and her wealthy stepfather, Stuart. While overseeing security at a concert for pop star Sheerah, Bryan saves her from a violent stalker. As a thank you, Sheerah offers to assess Kim's talent as a singer. Before Bryan can tell Kim, she asks her father for permission to travel to Paris with her best friend, Amanda. Bryan initially refuses, but eventually agrees after Lenore pressures him. At the airport, Bryan learns the girls are actually following the band 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 local named Peter whose taxi-sharing habits and party invitations act as a ruse to learn locations of the unsuspecting victims. Unaware of this and dismissing the idea as a friendly act, the girls agree. Kim and Amanda go to Amanda's cousins' apartment, only to find it deserted. While Kim makes a call to her father, she witnesses Amanda being abducted in another room. Kim complies with her father's instructions to hide, but is discovered and dragged out. Her abductor picks up the phone and refuses to negotiate with Bryan, who responds with a threat. The only response is "Good luck" before the call is terminated.
Sam, an old friend of Bryan and former colleague, deduces from the killer's voice that he is Marko Hoxha, a notorious Albanian trafficker. Bryan and Lenore listen, as Sam gives them all about Marko's illegal sex trafficking operations along with a warning that he has only four days to find Kim before she disappears for good. Using Stuart's private jet, Bryan travels to Paris and conducts an investigation of the apartment, and later discovers pictures of Peter, who gets killed by jumping in traffic when Bryan attempts to capture him.
With his only lead gone, Bryan turns to an old contact, semi-retired French intelligence officer Jean-Claude Pitrel, who also works a desk job at the same agency. Aware of Bryan's capabilities for destruction, Jean-Claude tips him of the location of a local red-light district where prostitution is rampant. With help from a hired translator, Bryan trails and infiltrates an Albanian brothel based out of an abandoned construction yard, where he finds a girl wearing Kim's denim jacket. After a brief firefight with the mobsters, Bryan takes the girl to a nearby hotel owned by an old friend and administers emergency aid. The next morning, after speaking with Jean-Claude, Bryan questions the girl and learns of a safehouse where the Albanians keep abducted girls. Posing as Pitrel, he enters the house pretending to be interested in a purchase and re-negotiation. After a brief conversation with some of the mobsters under the guise of a re-negotiation of their business, he recognizes Marko. Bryan subdues him and a violent shootout occurs, killing all mobsters except Marko. A quick search reveals several dead girls, including Amanda, all who are poisoned by heroin overdose. Using a makeshift electric chair, Bryan tortures Marko for information. Marko explains that virgins have high value in the black market and Kim, being a virgin, was sold quickly. As soon as Marko gives the buyer's name as Patrice Saint-Clair, Bryan electrocutes him and leaves. Later that evening, Bryan visits Jean-Claude. Jean-Claude's wife invites him for dinner where Bryan forces Jean-Claude to provide Patrice's information by injuring Jean-Claude's wife with a gunshot wound and threatening to murder her.
Bryan attends the auction beneath Saint-Clair's manor. As soon as Kim comes up for sale, he forces a Middle Eastern bidder to purchase her. While making his way out, he is detained by security and chained to a pipe, but manages to escape and eliminate everyone detaining him, including Saint-Clair. Saint-Clair tips Bryan of a yacht owned by a sheikh named Raman before he is shot dead. Making his way to the harbor, Bryan boards Raman's yacht and takes out his guards including the bidder, only to find the sheikh holding Kim at knifepoint. Bryan kills him without hesitation and rescues Kim. They return to the U.S., where she is reunited with her mother and stepfather. Afterward, Bryan takes Kim to see Sheerah for her first singing lesson and audition.
- Liam Neeson as Bryan Mills
- Maggie Grace as Kim Mills
- Famke Janssen as Lenore "Lennie" Mills-St. John
- Leland Orser as Sam Gilroy
- Jon Gries as Mark Casey
- David Warshofsky as Bernie Harris
- Holly Valance as Sheerah
- Katie Cassidy as Amanda (Kim's friend)
- Xander Berkeley as Stuart St. John
- Olivier Rabourdin as Jean-Claude Pitrel
- Gérard Watkins as Patrice Saint-Clair
- Arben Bajraktaraj as Marko Hoxha
- Camille Japy as Isabelle
- Nicolas Giraud as Peter
- Goran Kostić as Gregor
- Nabil Massad as Raman
The film was produced by Luc Besson's EuropaCorp. Besson and Morel had previously collaborated on District B13. In addition, Morel had previously worked as a director of photography previously for Besson.
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. Jeff Bridges was already cast to join as Bryan Mills, but later he was dropped out and later had been replaced by Liam Neeson. Neeson took the role after Bridges got dropped out of the film, 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. This film was inspired from the Tamil movie Mahanadi (film) which starred Kamal Hassan.
The score of the film was composed by Nathaniel Méchaly and released on January 27, 2009.
A trailer of Taken was released on June 20, 2008. 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. The film was released under the title of "96 Hours" in Germany, "Io vi troverò" in Italy, "Заложница" in Russia
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.
On its opening day in the North America, 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 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). The film is also the highest grossing among the Taken Film series in North America.
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.
Rotten Tomatoes gives the film an approval rating of 58% based on 168 reviews; the average rating is 5.8/10. The site's consensus states, "Taken is undeniably fun with slick action, but is largely a brainless exercise." On Metacritic, the film has a score of 50 out of 100, based on 31 critics, 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 arts skills to knock out more opponents than Mike Tyson and casually kill those he doesn't KO".
CinemaScore polls conducted during the opening weekend, cinema audiences gave the film an average grade of "A-" on an A+ to F scale.
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. 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.
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 FBI on security issues. However, records revealed he had actually been a radar operator in the United States 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.
In other mediaEdit
- 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 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 Ukraine and in defense of President Obama.
- 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.
- One of the most popular and best-received commercials of Super Bowl XLIX in February 2015, an ad by Finnish game developer Supercell for its popular game Clash of Clans, featured Neeson parodying his character from Taken.
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.
On 29 March 2014, principal photography began on a third Taken film and was intended to be the final installment in the Taken film series.