Taken 2

Taken 2: iPad Boogaloo

This is not an article that makes wild predictions about the future. It probably won’t solve all of you movie-watching problems, either. It’s also not entirely about a movie in which Liam Neeson has a set of skills. It is, however, a cautiously optimistic piece about where the world of digital distribution is heading. We talk about it far too much as part of the debate over piracy. The notion that for producers of content to truly reach the plugged in generation, they’re going to have to fix the mechanism that sells us the content. It’s perhaps the worst conditions under which we talk about digital distribution. So many sides, so many emotions, so much grey area exists in the piracy discussion. And so often, it escalates out of control. But what about the optimistic side of digital distribution. What is it that people want most, if they aren’t simply after something free. It’s simple: they want it now. And more and more, we’re seeing distributors who are closing the gap between when things are in theaters and when you can have it in our home. In these instances, there’s cause for hope.

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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

Pierre Morel’s 2009 hit Taken was an unexpectedly pleasant surprise on several levels. It turned the 56-year-old Liam Neeson into a legitimate action star, it re-framed the idea of January being a dumping ground for Hollywood leftovers and best of all, it was damn entertaining in its ridiculous simplicity. Its box office take guaranteed a sequel, but what should have been a sure thing was instead kneecapped by co-writer/franchise-creator Luc Besson‘s decision to hand the reins to the awesomely named  but otherwise utterly incompetent Olivier Megaton. In the sequel, ex-CIA agent and current bodyguard Bryan Mills (Neeson) finally has the relationship with his daughter Kim (Maggie Grace) and ex-wife Lenore (Famke Janssen) that he’s so desperately craved. An upcoming protection gig in Istanbul seems like the ideal locale for a “family” vacation so the ladies surprise Mills after his assignment for some Turkish R&R. But they’re not the only members of the surprise committee.

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Cloud Atlas

The first thirty minutes of hanging out in line or around the Alamo Drafthouse on Day One of Fantastic Fest is reserved for excited greetings, hugs you only get one week out of the year and a discussion of what’s been going on with family. It’s a community coming together just like any other, and that means baby photos and inside jokes. The week after those thirty minutes features a lot of topics, but it’s anchored by discussion about what the secret screenings will be. Amid conversations about how fast Donnie Yen really is and what sex with an octopus might yield, the active guessing of the unnamed movies perforates, growing in waves of disinformation and speculation as the time slot grows closer. The thrill of waiting in a packed theater (with a bucket of beer), filled with anticipation (and a bucket of beer from earlier) is one of the unique emotions the festival offers, and a big part of that is trying to fit uneven puzzle pieces together. This is pure speculation – borne from my years of experience with Fantastic Fest and a look at the forthcoming release calendar – so take it only as that. We already know what movies will be there, but here are 10 that just might show up in a TBA slot.

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Taken 2

Few people have looked quite so uncomfortable talking about YouTube and Tweeting as Liam Neeson does as he intros and outros this new trailer for Taken 2. But don’t tell him I said that. Everything in between reminds us that Neeson is not the kind of guy you should be messing with. He’s still got his particular set of skills. He’s still without a great deal of money. And now he’s got more trouble, because he’s the one being taken. Thus, the title of the film… Get it?

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Michael Clarke Duncan

What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a nightly movie news column that begins on a sad note this evening, then explodes into an exploration of some of the best long-form writing on the entertainment blogosphere. Every single link is worth a click. We’re quite proud of this accomplishment. Good job, team. We begin tonight with some sad news, that of Michael Clarke Duncan passing away at age 54. The Oscar-nominated actor was known best for his role in The Green Mile, but also stole scenes in everything from Armageddon to The Slammin’ Salmon. In person, he was described as a friendly, gentle man, quite the opposite of his intimidating stature. He died as a result of a heart attack, his fiancé confirmed today. Our thoughts go out to his friends and family. He will be missed.

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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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Taken 2

Why would this family go on vacation to Eastern Europe? Why? Why do it? After your daughter was kidnapped, forced to wear a glittery bikini and stood minutes away from being sold into a harem, why would you not bed down in the exact center of the United States (Lebanon, Kansas by the way) and resume life as quietly as possible? The new trailer for Taken 2 raises this important question, but it also continues to prove that Liam Neeson is a badass not to be trifled with. The opening sequence is perfect, taking on the perspective of the sex trade mafia as Bryan Mills has become somewhat of a legend that needs to be taken out. And take him out, they shall. Or at least they’ll try. Check out the trailer for yourself as you ponder why Maggie Grace is pretending to be 14 years old when her character is at least 20.

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What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a pretty gangsta nightly column of news and notes about the world of entertainment. Not quite as gangsta as the image above, but pretty gangsta nonetheless. Tonight kicks off with a new image from Breaking Bad. Can you tell that we’re excited to see Walter and Jesse back in action next month? If not, you must not be paying attention. We’re very excited, as it turns out.

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These days we kind of take it for granted that Liam Neeson is the biggest badass on the planet. But, once upon a time, he was just a budding action star, an actor making a transition from the dramatic roles of his youth to the more throat-punching direction his career has taken recently. Then Taken happened, and suddenly he became the biggest action star on the planet. That modestly budgeted actioner took in $226m worldwide, becoming such a surprise hit that we now find ourselves in the position of eagerly awaiting the sequel. This week, “Entertainment Weekly” is taking advantage of the anticipation by debuting a few stills from the movie, as well as having a little chat with Neeson about what danger his character is going to face this time around. When asked about how Taken 2 ties in to the end of the first film, Neeson explained, “The action is supposed to take place about a year or a year and a half after the first story. It’s a very clever sequel with the usual thrills and spills, but the ante is upped quite a bit in this one.”

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It’s already the second day of 2012, which means we’ll all be sober within the next day or two. It also means that we can officially start looking (through blurry eyes) ahead to the future. A future of promise and potential. A future of hope. A future of tingling anticipation that the road stretched out in front of us that leads to the cinema will be paved with gold. Will there be piles of excrement along the way? Of course, but we don’t know how many or how badly they’ll tarnish our yellow-bricked roller coaster ride. All we can see from this far out is the shimmering wonder of movies to come – the vast unknown that looks wonderful (and might just live up to the hype). In past years (2008, 2009, 2010, 2011), we’ve gone with a fairly arbitrary count of 20-30 movies. This year, we decided to prove that there were 52 movies worth prematurely celebrating (even though what we found were many more). That’s one for every week (even if there are some weeks with a few and some weeks with none at all). Regardless of the number, Rob Hunter, Neil Miller, Kate Erbland, Allison Loring, Landon Palmer, Brian Salisbury and Cole Abaius have joined forces to remind us all that there are a lot of great movies to hope for this year. Go grab a calendar and pencil in everything that gets your blood pressure up toward unsafe levels. It’s going to be a busy, flick-filled […]

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There was something about Taken that audiences just responded to. I don’t know what it was, but I felt it too. For some reason we were all just ready to see Liam Neeson go completely badass and mess some people up. The guy may be in his 50s, but when he told those guys that he had the set of skills necessary to take them out in that trailer, we all believed it. So I went to see the thing, and I sat there, not expecting much, yet inexplicably drawn to the film. For the first 30 minutes I was pretty bored and upset that I had been sucked in by the ad campaign. And then his daughter got taken, and for the rest of the runtime the movie was pure, brutal ass-kickery. And I’m not talking about the flippy, dancy, show-off type ass kicking that we get in most movies these days. Liam Neeson was a bone breaking, tooth and nail, creepy psycho. It was very satisfying to watch, and the movie ended up making a ton of money. So, guess what, bad news for Liam Neeson… somebody in his life is going to be taken again! Can you believe it? Or maybe there will be a twist and this time Neeson will be the one who gets taken. Either way, Taken 2 is looking like it’s going to happen. Neeson seems to be on board, Luc Besson is going to write again, and they’ve found a director. This […]

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It would have been an awesome opportunity for other aging actors to hop into the role and turn it into a Bond-like revolving door of men trying to rescue their daughters, but Liam Neeson has worked out a deal to star in Taken 2. It’s good news all around, and it’s difficult to see this sequel being anything more (or less) than the same airtight action of the last with a straight line toward the murderizing of bad guys. Plus, there’s nothing that says Luc Besson can’t start a series of films with all the 60+ actors of our time crushing skulls and saving daughters. Think about it, Besson. C’est Parfait.

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This seems calamitous, but Liam Neeson may not be able to reprise his role as the father with a very deadly set of skills (unless you count Unknown as a de facto sequel to Taken). Deadline Aransas Pass is reporting that Luc Besson wants to make a sequel happen this year, but Neeson wants to take some time off from a grueling schedule. If he does, and if Besson wants to push anyway, they’ll need to find another actor for the job. This sounds awful, but there is a silver lining. Imagine if this random scheduling problem launches a series of movies about aging, highly skilled bad asses trying to get their duck-running daughter back. What if Taken 2 was Gary Oldman kicking ass and chewing bubble gum, followed by Clint Eastwood in Taken 3 and Harrison Ford in Taken 4. Colin Firth, Tom Hanks, Jason Isaacs, Bruce Willis, Robert De Niro, Russell Crowe, Geoffrey Rush. That’s right. I said it. Geoffrey Rush. Put guns in all of their hands and set them loose on baddies of all different stripes. Then top it all off with Helen Mirren playing a mother with a particular set of skills, and you’ve got thirteen of the most stream-lined action flicks of the past four decades. But, yeah. Losing Neeson would be pretty bad news.

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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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District B13 Remake and Taken Sequel In Development

Screenwriter Robert Mark Kamen and Luc Besson have designs on another Taken and a new version of District B13. Today’s forecast calls for ass kicking with a slight chance of parkour.

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