The creation of the Taken franchise by 20th Century Fox has resulted in a lucrative trio of films (with a fourth potentially on its way), starring Liam Neeson. Despite having the smallest budget, the first film in the series brought in the lowest gross of the trilogy, yet still managed to bring in more than $200 million globally. With these kind of impressive numbers, Fox knew they had a hit on their hands and have treated the property accordingly ever since.
Regardless of what its box office numbers suggest, however, the film series hasn’t always been a favorite with critics. Suffering from poor reviews – particularly for 2015’s Taken 3, a common criticism has been that the franchise adds nothing new to the quite frankly outdated woman taken/tough guy gets her back action movie trope. While the possibility of a Taken 4 still has no confirmed status, those who maintain a keen interest in the sort of action that Taken has come to represent will soon be able to get their fix, via the upcoming television series.
We haven’t seen or heard much from NBC’s upcoming series, but now thanks to the official Taken YouTube page, we have our first look at what can be expected from the television adaptation. The trailer (above) highlights the fact that the series is intended as a prequel to the film franchise. The main character is still Bryan Mills, though instead of being played by Neeson, the much younger TV incarnation is handled by Clive Standen (Vikings). The series makes its debut on NBC starting February 27.
The synopsis for the Taken series is that after undergoing a personal tragedy, the young Bryan Mills becomes a CIA operative in order to hunt down those responsible. The trailer hints that although Mills is unable to save his sister during an attack on a train, his ability to single-handedly fight off the criminals catches the eye of the CIA. As a new recruit, Mills uses his impressive skills to take on criminal cartels and engage in some pretty action-packed encounters, from the look of things. Taken fans have yet to learn about what the life of Bryan Mills entailed before we encounter him in the Taken film series, though it’s well understood that he had a lengthy history as a CIA operative.
For a first look, the Taken series trailer does seem to promise the level of action that Taken fans have become accustomed to in the films. It will be interesting to see if explaining Mills’ backstory is a gradual and engaging element of the series or if we already know everything we need to know from the one-minute trailer above. The unfortunate truth about creating a series like Taken is that it will be hard for NBC to avoid the familiar paint-by-numbers of a network action series. In order to truly thrive, Taken is going to have to do on TV what it was losing its ability to do as a film series – maintain a level of action that isn’t simply rehashing what’s already come before it.
But, as we’ve seen with Taken’s box-office numbers, people are still very much interested in the story of Bryan Mills. While today’s TV audiences often tend to want the sort of grit and maturity that comes from streaming and premium cable providers, Taken just might be NBC’s chance to prove that a hit film franchise can still find life at a network.
Taken premiers February 27th on NBC.