TAKEN with Liam Neeson as CIA operative Bryan Mills left an indelible impression on moviegoers.
Who can forget his iconic quote: “I don’t know who you are. I don’t know what you want. If you are looking for ransom I can tell you I don’t have money, but what I do have are a very particular set of skills. Skills I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you. If you let my daughter go now, that’ll be the end of it. I will not look for you, I will not pursue you. But if you don’t, I will look for you, I will find you and I will kill you.”
Given the popularity and success of the movie, it’s unsurprising to find that it has inspired a TV series.
What’s great, though, is that writer Luc Besson is the executive producer on this small screen adaptation. As such, he is able to keep a closer eye on the tone.
As is to be expected, there are mixed feelings about the TV version with Clive Standen (Vikings fame) as the protagonist. Physically, he bears a striking resemblance to Neeson. But he doesn’t quite match his intensity. This is the first episode, so I’m not going to be too harsh on the series. Some shows take a little longer to grow on viewers.
Taken opens with Bryan, who is a former Green Beret, on a train with his sister. They are off to see their parents when he senses something amiss and foils a terrorist attack. Unbeknown to him at the time, the threat was linked to him and his past. His sister, unfortunately, became collateral damage.
In seeking vengeance against those who targeted him, he uncovers deception much closer to home. Amid all of this he is unwittingly used as bait to lure out Carlos Mejia, a dangerous terrorist and drug lord, by Christina Hart (Jennifer Beals), the Deputy Director with Special Portfolio at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
The action sequences are spectacular and there is plenty of suspense and tension in the narrative to keep viewers invested in the outcome. However, there are also a few poignant scenes that meander into the contrived realm.
By the same token, there are some ingeniously penned scenarios, like when Christina’s team hatch a clever ruse to extract information from one of the shooters on the train, to frustrating scenes where they, despite the fact that they have Bryan under surveillance, only go to his rescue when it’s too late.
Overall, Taken is an entertaining action-packed series. However, while Standen is competent in the fight scenes, don’t go looking for a Liam Neeson in him yet.
WHAT CRITICS ARE SAYING
* An action-packed show with an air of mystery that’s loaded with interesting characters is one you shouldn’t pass up. Rarely does a TV series surpass its source material, but this new version of Taken does just that. - The Gazette
* The action scenes are great and breathless. If only those pesky characters didn’t get in the way from time to time. Standen, Beals and Brooklyn Sudano as Mills’ sister’s friend Asha, do a pretty good job making up for dopey dialogue. - San Francisco Chronicle
* The British-born Standen is a handsome lad who goes about his business with an earnest grittiness, but even he seems at a loss when he’s made to answer Mills’ doorbell clad in only a towel to talk to his sister’s pretty friend (Brooklyn Sudano, daughter of the late disco queen Donna Summer). His confused expression seems to ask, “How did I end up on The Young and the Restless?” While the target audience will probably dig the extensive action sequences and vivid violence, there’s no reason anyone else should be “Taken” for a ride. - New York Post
* The show is like a parody of a TV action drama, with direction-less underground chases, generic bad guys, snide smirks, aggressive soundtrack flourishes, grunting people running from danger, grunting people running into danger, and a brooding hero who can do anything and who knows what’s going to happen before it happens and who gets shot at a lot but never dies. Except a parody wouldn’t be so boring, so unintentionally illogical, so unmemorable, and so laboured. - Boston Globe
* Taken airs on M-Net (DStv Channel 101) on Thursday at 8.30pm.