The first Taken movie, directed by Pierre Morel, is a bona fide modern action classic. With a simple yet engaging plot, visceral action and a main character that viewers immediately sympathize with, the film harked back to the glory days of straight-forward action romps and established Liam Neeson as someone you seriously wouldn't want to get on the wrong side of. Two sequels later and the formula was starting to wear thin somewhat. Neither of the subsequent Taken installments were received as warmly as the first, and Bryan Mills' habit of losing his daughter had become more frustrating than exciting.
As the movie franchise came to a natural close - and Neeson himself distanced himself from a potential fourth film - it was announced that the Taken story would live on via the medium of television. With Clive Standen (Vikings, Camelot) taking over the lead role of Mills and Jennifer Beals (Flashdance) joining the cast as his spy mentor, the series will be set prior to the film trilogy and will explore Bryan's days as a young C.I.A. agent.
Now - speaking at the NBC Television Critics Association event (via Deadline) - the faces behind the series have been speaking about the show's direction, its relationship to the movies and the origin story format. Executive producer Alex Cary, states:
“It was never about making a Taken prequel but a modern origin story set in modern-day times. Creating this character from the ground up is what attracted me to the project.”
Fellow exec Matt Gross also added: “It’s not about his set of skills, it’s about understanding him as a character. It’s about how he becomes a hero." In the same interview, the producers also described the relationship between the two leads as one that defines Bryan's character but that comes with a layer of friction.
The comments re-affirm that despite the TV series being set prior to the movies in terms of Bryan's life story, the show will not be retro or nostalgic, and will have the same modern day edge as its film counterparts. It also sounds as though the primary focus of the entire series will be Mills' character and motivations and will show viewers exactly how he becomes the man seen in the movie franchise. It will likely also explore exactly how Mills learned his famous 'particular set of skills', as well as his ability to make chilling phone calls to bad guys.
Whilst the Taken series may have taken steps to differentiate itself from the movies, it's difficult not to assume that the show might just be another in a long line of secret agent crime procedural series. Some may also argue that the television adaptation is ignoring what made the first Taken movie so popular with audiences; Neeson's Bryan Mills was easy for audiences to relate to, but the fact that viewers didn't know too much about his backstory added to the aura of mystery surrounding him and by digging into his history, Taken on TV may have a tough time recapturing the magic of Bryan Mills' first big-screen adventure.
Taken is set to premiere February 27th on NBC.
Source: NBC TCA (via Deadline)