Though Taken wasn’t a masterpiece by any stretch of the imagination, it was a very watchable film, thanks in large part to Liam Neeson’s fantastic performance as retired CIA agent Bryan Mills, a man desperately trying to find his kidnapped daughter.

In fact, I’m of the firm belief that if you take Neeson out of the equation, the film is just a run-of-the-mill, action picture. Fortunately, despite some initial reluctance on his part, Neeson is in final talks to join Taken 2, likely to be directed by Olivier Megaton.

According to Deadline, up until yesterday there was some question as to whether or not Liam Neeson would be returning for the sequel at all. Since his wife’s tragic death, Neeson has thrown himself into film project after film project, from Clash of the Titans to The A-Team to Unknown (not to mention the upcoming Battleship and The Grey).

As such, Neeson wanted some much warranted time off for the remainder of 2011, but producer Luc Besson (Leon: The Professional, Fifth Element) wanted to begin shooting this year – so much so that he even compiled a list of replacement actors if talks with Neeson fell through. That list included Sean Bean, Ralph Fiennes, Jason Isaacs, Mickey Rourke, and Ray Winstone. All fine actors, to be sure, and ones I wouldn’t mind seeing in old man revenge flicks of their own…but certainly not Taken 2.

Thankfully, cooler heads prevailed, and late last night Luc Besson and Liam Neeson came to an agreement: Neeson would get his year off, and production will begin either at the very end of 2011 or the beginning of 2012.

So, good news all around, save for the possible fact that Besson is in talks to hire Olivier Megaton, director of the abysmal Transporter 3, to helm the film. Hopefully, Besson knows something we don’t – maybe Megaton’s Colombiana, starring Zoe Saldana, is good enough to warrant the director’s job for the sequel to Taken.

Are you happy to see Liam Neeson return to the role that I affectionately refer to as “Old Man Bourne with a Cooler Voice”? Let us know in the comments.

Taken 2, written by Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen, may or may not start shooting by the end of this year.

Source: Deadline