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On October 5, Liam Neeson returns as Bryan Mills, the retired CIA agent who stopped at nothing to save his abducted daughter in ‘Taken’. When he is targeted by a mysterious figure seeking vengeance, Bryan must employ his “particular set of skills” to protect his family against an army out to kill them.
From acclaimed filmmaker Luc Besson (who co-scripted and produces ‘Taken 2’), co-screenwriter Robert Mark Kamen (who has penned both ‘Taken’ films with Besson), and director Olivier Megaton (‘Columbiana’, ‘Transporter 3’), ‘Taken 2’ follows the global success of ‘Taken’, released in 2008, which earned $224 million at the box office. Audiences cheered Neeson as Bryan Mills, an overprotective father whose skills – forged through years of covert ops – were put to the test long after his retirement from the CIA. Resolute in his quest to rescue his daughter after she was kidnapped in a plush Paris apartment, Bryan’s journey in ‘Taken’ was instantly understandable to any parent.
Bryan’s warning, addressed to the men who had taken his daughter, and his subsequent making good on the promise contained within, captured the imaginations of audiences around the world and made ‘Taken’ one of the most successful and relatable action thrillers of recent years. “The situation Bryan finds himself in is something any of us can relate to,” says Neeson. “If your child was threatened, you’d do anything to right that wrong.”
“‘Taken’ hit a nerve with people,” agrees Famke Janssen, who plays Lenore. “I think it was the notion that if something happens to a family member, what would you do? How far would you be willing to go? Audiences really identified with Bryan Mills.”
The role of Bryan was a notable departure for Neeson. Before ‘Taken’, he had been celebrated for his work in dramatic fare, like the Oscar®-nominated ‘Schindler’s List’. ‘Taken’, a full-throttle action-thriller, was more than just an assignment for Neeson; it fulfilled his childhood ambitions. “The film appealed to the young person in me,” he laughs. “It was a chance to be in Paris for three months and to do fight training, and I love all that physical stuff. It was a great release.”
For Neeson, returning to the character of Bryan Mills in ‘Taken 2’ meant drawing on the experience gleaned from roles in action films subsequent – and largely due – to his work in ‘Taken’. “When I acted in [the summer 2010 film] ‘The A-Team’ I met a military weapons expert who is still operational,” he says. “He was a big guy who, while we were shooting, would disappear for four days and come back with a stomach wound, and you knew he’d been on a mission in Iraq or Afghanistan.”
The undisclosed consultant told stories about real field operations – the kind Bryan would have engaged in during his time at the CIA – that had a profound effect on the actor. “I mean, forget James Bond; this is the real deal. And he’s still doing it. He was a great source to draw on.”
Neeson confesses that he enjoys the physicality of the role. “It’s great to do that stuff, and we have a terrific stunt team,” he enthuses. “I have a wonderful stunt double, Mark Vanselow, who’s my buddy, and he’s been in my life, professionally, for 12 or 13 years. He does all the hard stuff! Returning to Bryan was a chance to get with Mark again and do all the fight training.”