Taken

Mel GIbson in Edge of Darkness

Is there any hope for Mel Gibson? It was almost four years ago that a string of obscene voicemail messages obliterated the actor’s career and then salted the very earth it sprung from. But Gibson hasn’t given up. He’s actually done the opposite, making a new movie every year since 2010 – Edge of Darkness, The Beaver, Get the Gringo and Machete Kills, with The Expendables 3 due out this year. Add another onto that list, because Gibson has just signed onto something called Blood Father. According to Deadline, the film has just put all its major pieces in place: Gibson will star, Jean-Francoise Richet (of Mesrine and 2005′s Assault on Precinct 13 remake) will direct and Peter Craig (The Town) will write the screenplay, based on his own novel. The story sounds just like every other “grizzled old man kills people for some reason” action movie these days: a teenage girl witnesses a murder and finds herself on the run from a motley assortment of thugs and drug dealers. Now, it’s up to her dear old estranged dad to rescue her from so much gun-toting nastiness.

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Taken Famke Janssen and Maggie Grace

Contrary to popular belief, not all mega-successful movies get an automatic sequel. Often, a pitched battle rages over the right to add a +1 on the end of whatever movie just made a gazillion dollars worldwide. Take Taken 3. The addition of that “3″ was no cakewalk. At first, Liam Neeson was adamant that the film shouldn’t be made, that a single family would suffer three takings to be completely absurd. “It’s just bad parenting,” Neeson argued. Then, Fox offered him $20M to change his mind. He did. But there was a catch: Neeson’s agreement meant Fox had to implement a strict “No Taking” policy for Taken 3. No daughters would be taken. No wives. Not a single Liam Neeson. Which begs the question: what’s everyone supposed to do instead?

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You know what, Robert Mark Kamen? Good for you. On the heels of Taken 2‘s blockbuster opening (the film made over $49m in its first weekend, and currently clocks in at a hefty $122m worldwide as of this posting), screenwriter Kamen (who also penned the first film) sat down with Hollywood.com‘s own (and our former) Matt Patches to talk about all sorts of stuff. Well, mainly money and sequels. The interview is a great read on its own (seriously, at one point, Kamen shares that he and Luc Besson call each other “Shrek” and “Donkey,” which could be a solid base for some really compelling fan fiction), but for the purpose of this item, we’ll just focus on what Kamen had to say about the possibility of Taken 3. Read: a strong possibility.

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Taken 2

The thesis statement of Taken 2 seems to hold that once you’ve dipped your toe into the criminal world, you’ve entered a murky swamp with an undercurrent that’s just going to keep pulling you deeper down into depravity. When Liam Neeson’s daughter got snatched up by kidnappers in the first Taken, he didn’t handle things by going to the proper authorities, he handled them by tracking the kidnappers down and brutally murdering them one at a time until he got her back. If you’ll remember, it was completely awesome. But it turns out all of those people he killed had families – criminal families – and now they’re out for revenge. In this trailer for Olivier Megaton’s Taken 2, it’s not just the daughter that gets taken, it’s the entire family. So Neeson is going to have to fight extra hard, he’s going to have to dig deep into his cache of skills, and he’s going to have to be as steadfastly brutal as he’s ever been on film before…because he’s got a whole lot of people to kill.

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Boiling Point

They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, though I’ve never been one to ascribe to that notion. In Hollywood, virtually everything is, at some level, derivative. Hell, not just Hollywood. Virtually every story has been told before, whether it’s comparing the Bible to ancient Egyptian beliefs or Star Wars to The Hidden Fortress. Telling a similar story is okay, hey, there’s only so many ways the good guy can beat the bad guy, right? The details are where the magic happens, and the devil lives. Samurai swords? No. Lightsabers. Transformers are the good guys? How about Transmorphers are the bad guys! However, these are all broad strokes. If we travel further into the script, past plot, past character, past props, we have dialog. Dialog is where the real difference can be made – this is where the magic lives. It’s how a movie like Clerks or My Dinner with Andre or a show like Mad Men can keep you riveted without much going on other than characters talking. But what happens when characters start using the same phrases?

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After getting my hair blown back by all the awesome old man violence in the first Taken, I’ve been following the development of the sequel pretty closely. The idea of making a sequel to a film where a guy’s daughter gets kidnapped is a tricky one. What do you do, have her get kidnapped again? Have somebody else in the family get kidnapped? It’s pretty easy with a concept like this to get into ridiculous, “how does the same thing happen to the same guy twice” territory. But as long as they don’t dwell on the improbabilities and instead just focus on Liam Neeson brutally exacting his vengeance on bad guys, I don’t really mind. When Neeson first started talking about a sequel to Taken, I cheered. When it was announced that the film had found itself a director, I was cautiously optimistic. And now that word has come down the pipe that shooting will start soon, I’m officially getting excited. Producer Luc Besson had a chat with Coming Soon, and revealed that new director Olivier Megaton had been spending some time on a recent trip to LA to begin scouting for the film, that shooting would most likely begin in October, and that the entire cast of the first film would be back for the sequel. Wait. didn’t Liam Neeson kill everyone in the first movie? No, apparently Famke Janssen played his wife and she’ll be returning. I must have missed that while I was concentrating on all the […]

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Liam Neeson is soon to star in the film Unknown, which opens February 18th here in the US. But before he was able to so confidently open an action film filled with espionage and intrigue such as this one, he was first slotted into the starring role of the 2008 film Taken. In that picture he assured us that he was a man with a “very specific set of skills” which ended up mostly consisting of hunting people down and killing them in horrifically satisfying ways. It wasn’t a movie that should have made much of an impact at the box office, and it didn’t resemble anything that had real franchise potential; but there was something about the film that really resonated with audiences. When Neeson said that he had a specific set of skills in that trailer, people believed him. They believed him so much that they showed up to see him exhibit those skills in droves. And despite his advancing age, Neeson was able to convincingly kill a bunch of people without any of it looking unlikely or exploitational. Despite all rational to the contrary, Liam Neeson had become a modern day action hero with just one role, even though he was already a hundred years old. In an era with a pathetic cache of action icons, in an era where today’s children might not even understand the transcendental heroics of blowing a guy’s head clean off, a classic revenge film like Taken came as a huge breath […]

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If someone made a movie that combined The Fugitive, The Game, and Taken, would that pique your interest? Of course it would. And, of course it will. The new trailer for Unknown (which apparently isn’t called Unknown White Male anymore) shows a very confused, very pissed off, very revenge-fueled Liam Neeson as a man whose identity seems to have been stolen. The world that opens up is one of deception and conspiracy, and the coma he was in probably doesn’t add much to his credibility. The bottom line: this trailer is intense and promises a complex film with plenty of asses being kicked.

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This week, on a very special Reject Radio, Rob Hunter drops by to declare his love for the online community, to denounce sex slavery, and to deliver some truly gruesome films to sit through. Plus! Fantastic prizes offered to anyone who sits through all the movies we suggest. Bonus if you eat pudding while doing it.

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Star Liam Neeson said that there wasn’t a story, and that would be the sticking point, but that he and Besson were meeting to discuss the possibilities and to come up with something viable. Obviously, it’s not set in stone, but that’s nice to hear in a world where a title alone can greenlight a film before story or tone is ever even discussed.

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I loved Edge of Darkness precisely because it was more than I expected.

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Pierre Morel has been tapped to make a new Dune for Paramount. Pressing questions and Max von Sydow references inside.

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In the last month of the past decade, we put our readership through the ringer. We unleashed list after list of our favorites of the decade and the year. And if you can suffer through one more round of awesomeness, it will all be over. For now.

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Often “Best of” lists include a bunch of the Oscar bait roles that we hear about at the end of every year but in 2009 we had some great performances in big movies which sadly isn’t always the case. With this list I tried to balance the two opposing worlds of critical credibility and popularity by considering which roles stuck out in my mind most. This is what I came up with…

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We see them plastered in lobbies and wish we had them all on our walls. Pieces of art with the purpose of selling us on a movie. Here they are: the best movie posters of 2009.

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Rob Hunter recalls a year of marketing with 15 of the most exciting slices of cinema to hit big screens this year. The best trailers.

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cyber-monday-header

Today is Cyber Monday, the unofficial holiday that is the web’s response to Black Friday. Which means that its time to spend a bunch of money on Blu-ray movies, right?… Right?

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HowToFallOffTheGrid

So you want to leave your old life behind and start a new one, eh? Here are a few tips from films that can get you started on your foolish adventure into changing your identity and never being found again.

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PierreMorel

Two of those words in single quotation marks are movie titles. I’ll let you guess which ones. Suspense!

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gibson-darkness

In Boston, the only city in America with corruption and crime, a policeman’s daughter is shot right in front of him, so he tracks down answers and sets to ass-kicking.

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