Taken is a 2008 English-language French action-thriller film directed by Pierre Morel and written by Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen. It stars Liam Neeson, Maggie Grace, Katie Cassidy, Famke Janssen, Leland Orser and Holly Valance. In the film, Bryan Mills, an ex-CIA officer, sets to track down his teenage daughter Kim and her best friend Amanda after they are kidnapped by Albanian human traffickers while travelling in France during a vacation.

Taken
French theatrical release poster
Directed byPierre Morel
Written by
Produced byLuc Besson
Starring
CinematographyMichel Abramowicz
Edited byFrédéric Thoraval
Music byNathaniel Méchaly
Production
companies
Distributed byEuropaCorp Distribution (France)
20th Century Fox (International)
Release date
  • 27 February 2008 (2008-02-27) (France)
Running time
90 minutes[1]
CountryFrance[2][3]
LanguageEnglish
Budget$25 million[4]
Box office$226.8 million[4]

Taken was released in France on 27 February 2008 by EuropaCorp and was internationally released by 20th Century Fox. The film received mixed reviews from critics, but was a huge financial success, grossing $226 million, and numerous media outlets cited the film as a turning point in Neeson's career that redefined and transformed him to an action star.[5][6][7] It also launched as a franchise and was followed by two sequels Taken 2, Taken 3 and a television series that premiered in 2017 on NBC with Clive Standen portraying a younger yet alternate version of Bryan Mills.

Plot

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Retired Green Beret and CIA officer Bryan Mills attempts to build a closer relationship with his 17-year-old daughter Kim, who lives with her mother (his former wife) Lenore and her wealthy step-father Stuart. While overseeing security at a concert for pop star Sheerah, Bryan saves her from a knife-wielding attacker. Out of gratitude, Sheerah offers to have a vocal coach assess Kim as a singer. Before Bryan can tell her about the offer, Kim asks him for permission to travel to Paris with her best friend Amanda. Bryan initially refuses due to concern about her safety, but eventually accepts. At the airport, Bryan learns that Kim lied to him and that the girls are actually planning to follow U2 during their European tour.

Upon arriving at Charles de Gaulle Airport, Kim and Amanda meet a handsome young stranger named Peter who offers to share a taxi. Kim and Amanda go to Amanda's cousins' apartment, where Kim learns that the cousins are in Spain. After answering a call from Bryan, Kim sees men enter the apartment and abduct Amanda. When Kim is dragged out from hiding, she yells a description of her abductor, following her father's instructions. Bryan hears someone breathing on the phone and tells the listener that he will not pursue the kidnappers if they release his daughter, but warns them that refusing to accept his offer will result in their deaths.[8] The listener only replies "good luck" and terminates the call. Sam, an old friend and former colleague of Bryan, deduces that the kidnappers are part of an Albanian sex trafficking ring and identifies the listener as mob boss Marko Hoxha. Based on previous abductions, Kim must be found within 96 hours or she will likely be lost forever.

Bryan flies to Paris, where he breaks into the apartment and finds Peter's reflection in a picture on Kim's phone. He finds Peter at the airport, trying to lure a female traveler. Bryan attempts to beat the information out of Peter and demand the whereabouts of Kim and Amanda, but is stopped by his partner. Bryan then gives chase in a stolen taxi. While fleeing, Peter is suddenly killed by an oncoming truck. With his only lead dead, Bryan turns to an old contact, ex-DGSE agent turned National Police officer Jean-Claude Pitrel, who now has a desk job. Jean-Claude warns him not to get involved, but informs him of the local red-light district where Bryan plants a listening device on an Albanian pimp. Bryan searches a makeshift brothel in a construction yard and rescues a drugged young woman who has Kim's denim jacket.

After a gunfight and high-speed chase with the brothel's operators, Bryan takes the woman to a hotel and improvises her detoxification. The next morning, the woman tells Bryan about a house where she and Kim were kept. Posing as Jean-Claude, Bryan enters the house under the pretense of renegotiating the police protection rate. When Bryan identifies Marko by tricking him into saying "good luck," the meeting erupts into a fight which results in the deaths of several kidnappers. Searching the house, Bryan finds several heavily drugged girls, including Amanda, who died due to an overdose. Bryan then tortures Marko with electricity, and leaves him to die from continuous electrocution, but not before the latter confesses that virgins like Kim are quickly sold on the black market and identifying the buyer as crime syndicate leader Patrice Saint-Clair.

At Jean-Claude's apartment, Bryan confronts him over his corruption and shoots his wife, wounding her, to coerce him into disclosing Saint-Clair's location before knocking him out. Bryan infiltrates a secret sex slave auction taking place beneath Saint-Clair's mansion, where Kim is the subject of the last sale. Bryan forces one of the bidders named Ali to purchase her, but is subsequently caught and knocked out. Learning about Bryan's identity, Saint-Clair orders his henchmen to kill him, but Bryan breaks loose and eliminates them all. A mortally wounded Saint-Clair reveals details of a yacht owned by a sheikh named Raman before Bryan kills him. Bryan pursues the yacht and eliminates the bodyguards, including Ali, before he finds Raman holding Kim at knifepoint. When Raman attempts to negotiate, Bryan kills him and Kim is rescued. Back in the US, Bryan surprises Kim by taking her to visit Sheerah.

Cast

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Production

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The film was produced by Luc Besson's EuropaCorp.[10] Pierre Morel had previously worked as a director of photography for Besson, and they had also collaborated on Morel's directorial debut, District 13. 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.[11] 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. Instead, the film went on to define Neeson's career and establish him as an action star.[12]

Music

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The score of the film was composed by Nathaniel Méchaly and released on 27 January 2009.[13]

Soundtrack

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All songs written and composed by Nathaniel Méchaly except where noted.[14][15]

Taken (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
No.TitleLength
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."Heading Off"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."Ninety Six Hours"6:01
10."The Construction Site"2:04
11."Pursuit at the Construction Site"1:25
12."Saving Alex"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"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:45:50

Release

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A trailer of Taken was released on 20 June 2008.[16]

The film was edited by 3 minutes to secure a PG-13 rating in the United States.[17]

Reception and legacy

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Box office

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Taken grossed $145 million in 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 North America, 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 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 and Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert ($31.1 million).[19] The film is also the highest grossing among the Taken films in North America.[20]

The biggest markets in other territories were South Korea, UK, France, Australia and Spain: the film grossed $15.47 million, $11.27 million, $9.43 million, $6.28 million, and $5.46 million respectively.[21]

Critical response

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On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a rating of 60%, based on 178 reviews, with an average rating of 5.80/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Taken is undeniably fun with slick action, but is largely a brainless exercise."[22] On Metacritic, the film has a score of 50 out of 100, based on 32 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[23]

Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film two and a half stars out of four, writing, "It's always a puzzle to review a movie like this. On the one hand, it's preposterous. But who expects a "Bourne"-type city-wrecking operative to be plausible? On the other hand, it's very well-made. Liam Neeson brings the character a hard-edged, mercilessly focused anger, and director Pierre Morel hurtles through action sequences at a breathless velocity."[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 Bourne film 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]

Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A−" on an A+ to F scale.[29]

Later events

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In 2011, a self-proclaimed counter-terrorism expert was convicted of wire fraud after claiming the film was based on a real-life incident in which his daughter was killed. 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 U.S. 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 Cemeteries. 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.[30]

In 2019, in an attempt to promote tourism and counter the negative perception of Albanians in the Western media, the Albanian government, together with foreign donors, produced a tourism advertisement entitled "Be Taken by Albania", where Liam Neeson is asked to visit Albania and explore the country's cultural, culinary and tourism hotspots.[31][32]

Legacy

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After the film was released, the “Taken Speech” that Neeson's character gave while talking on the phone with his daughter's kidnappers became an Internet meme.[8] Neeson described the scene as “corny. It was a cornball. I really did feel that."[33]

Awards

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Award Category Subject Result
Broadcast Music, Inc. BMI Film Music Award Nathaniel Méchaly Won
Golden Schmoes Awards Best Line Liam Neeson Won
Biggest Surprise of the Year Taken 2nd place
Saturn Award Best International Film Taken Nominated

Home media

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Taken was released as "Taken (Single-Disc Extended Edition)" on DVDs on 12 May 2009 and on Blu-ray on 9 December 2014. The film also saw release of "Taken (Two-Disc Extended Edition)" on DVDs and Blu-ray Discs on 12 May 2009.[34] 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.[35]

Sequels

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In November 2010, Fox announced that EuropaCorp would produce a sequel directed by Olivier Megaton. Taken 2 was subsequently released in France on 3 October 2012, with Neeson, Janssen, Grace, Gries, Rabourdin and Orser reprising their roles from the first film.[36][37][38] A third Taken film was released 16 December 2014.[39]

Television series

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In September 2015, NBC ordered a TV series depicting a younger Bryan Mills with Clive Standen portraying Mills, Gaius Charles, Monique Gabriela Curnen, James Landry Hebert, Michael Irby, Jose Pablo Cantillo, Jennifer Marsala and Simu Liu are cast as John, Vlasik, Casey, Scott, Dave, Riley and Faaron, members of OPCON. Brooklyn Sudano is cast as Asha, an attractive, well-educated young student from an upper-middle-class family who is furthering her education when she first meets Bryan, and Jennifer Beals is cast as Christina Hart, the Special Deputy Director of National Intelligence who has taken Mills under her wing. Alexander Cary is a writer, executive producer and showrunner for the series and Alex Graves directed the pilot.[40][41] The show lasted two seasons, beginning in February 2017 and ending in June the following year.

References

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  1. ^ "Home›Releases›TAKEN". Bbfc.com. Retrieved 23 September 2017.
  2. ^ "Taken". Variety. 4 April 2010. Archived from the original on 24 June 2012. Retrieved 14 April 2012.
  3. ^ Buchanan, Jason. "Taken". Allrovi. Archived from the original on 31 December 2011. Retrieved 14 April 2012.
  4. ^ a b c "Taken (2009)". Box Office Mojo. IMDB. Retrieved 6 October 2014.
  5. ^ Franich, Darren (30 January 2012). "Is Liam Neeson really an action star?". Entertainment Weekly. Archived from the original on 16 March 2014. Retrieved 6 July 2012.
  6. ^ Hynes, Eric (26 January 2012). "Nearing 60, Liam Neeson, Action Star, Has Finally Arrived". Phoenix New Times. Archived from the original on 13 March 2014. Retrieved 6 July 2012.
  7. ^ Tobias, Scott (30 January 2012). "Weekend Box Office: Liam Neeson marks his territory". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 6 July 2012.
  8. ^ a b Marche, Stephen (8 January 2015). "'A Very Particular Set of Skills': Revisiting the Amazing 'Taken' Speech". Esquire. Retrieved 22 December 2020.
  9. ^ "SCREEN IT! ARTISTIC REVIEW: TAKEN". www.screenit.com. Retrieved 31 January 2024.
  10. ^ Jaafar, Ali; Keslassy, Elsa (21 November 2008). "New French wave prefers genre films". Variety. Retrieved 1 February 2009.
  11. ^ Douglas, Edward (4 February 2009). "Exclusive: Pierre Morel Talks Taken". Comingsoon.net. Retrieved 10 January 2015.
  12. ^ Hainey, Michael (27 March 2014). "The GQ Cover Story: Liam Neeson". GQ. p. 1. Retrieved 12 January 2015.
  13. ^ "Taken Soundtrack". last.fm. Retrieved 7 February 2015.
  14. ^ "Taken (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)". amazon.com. Retrieved 6 February 2015.
  15. ^ "Taken Soundtrack". cduniverse.com. Retrieved 7 February 2015.
  16. ^ "Taken trailer". traileraddict.com. 20 June 2008. Retrieved 7 February 2015.
  17. ^ "Taken (Comparison: PG-13 - Extended Cut)". Movie-Censorship.com. Retrieved 18 May 2009.
  18. ^ McClintock, Pamela (31 January 2009). "Box office crown 'Taken' by Fox". Variety. Retrieved 1 February 2009.
  19. ^ Gray, Brandon (1 February 2009). "'Taken' Captures Super Bowl Weekend". Retrieved 28 October 2012.
  20. ^ "Taken Series". boxofficemojo.com. IMDB. Retrieved 7 February 2015.
  21. ^ "Taken International box office". boxofficemojo.com. IMDB. Retrieved 7 February 2015.
  22. ^ "Taken (2009)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. 30 January 2009. Retrieved 29 June 2021.
  23. ^ "Taken". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 8 January 2021.
  24. ^ Ebert, Roger (28 January 2009). "Taken movie review and film summary". RogerEbert.com. Retrieved 28 April 2022.
  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. Archived from the original on 21 September 2013.
  27. ^ Elley, Derek (13 March 2008). "Taken". Variety. Retrieved 31 January 2009.
  28. ^ Turan, Kenneth (30 January 2009). "Taken". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 31 January 2009.
  29. ^ "Home". CinemaScore. Retrieved 7 February 2015.
  30. ^ "Reputed counter-terrorism expert pleads guilty". Military Times. 11 April 2011.
  31. ^ ""Taken by Albania", l'invito a Liam Neeson diventa virale sul web". Albania News (Italian Edition). 25 February 2019.
  32. ^ "Be Taken By Albania". Be Taken By Albania.
  33. ^ Chi, Paul (17 February 2023). "Liam Neeson Still Gets Embarrassed by Sex Scenes: "I Would Have Preferred to Leave It to the Imagination"". Vanity Fair. Retrieved 24 August 2023.
  34. ^ "Taken DVD release". dvdsreleasedates.com. Retrieved 7 February 2015.
  35. ^ "Taken". the-numbers.com. Retrieved 7 February 2015.
  36. ^ "Are We Going To Be Taken Again?". The Film Stage. 10 June 2010. Archived from the original on 9 March 2012. Retrieved 10 June 2010.
  37. ^ "Liam Neeson Confirmed For Taken 2" Empire. 17 March 2011.
  38. ^ "Maggie Grace Confirmed for 'Taken 2'" /Film. 6 April 2011.
  39. ^ Lang, Brent (11 January 2015). "Liam Neeson and 'Taken 3': Anatomy of an AARP Action Hero". Yahoo!. Retrieved 26 December 2016.
  40. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (17 September 2015). "'Taken' Prequel TV Series Ordered By At NBC With Luc Besson Producing". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media, LLC. Retrieved 30 September 2018.
  41. ^ Goldberg, Lesley (22 February 2016). "NBC's 'Taken' Prequel Series Finds Lead in 'Vikings' Star". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 30 September 2018.
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