Oscar winner Forest Whitaker has been tapped to join Liam Neeson in a third instalment of his hit action franchise Taken. Neeson will reteam with Taken 2 director Olivier Megaton and reprise his retired CIA agent character for the film, and now The Last King of Scotland star is in talks to feature in the project too, reports Deadline.com.
Maggie Grace will return as Neeson's daughter for Taken 3, which is expected to begin production later this year (14).
Pierre Morel directed the original Taken, which became a huge surprise hit in 2008, making over $226 million (£141.25 million) worldwide on a budget of $25 million (£15.63 million).
Take Liam Neeson's family members once shame on you. Take Liam Neeson's family members twice shame on him (but you'll still end up in a world of hurt).
Taken 2 sequel to the 2008 sleeper hit doesn't worry too much about improbability in devising a way to bring Bryan Mills (Neeson) back into the action. In the first film Mills punched and shot his way through Paris in order to retrieve his kidnapped daughter Kim (Maggie Grace). The followup jumps ahead two years Kim still on edge from the experience and Mills just hoping to move past it all. To wash away bad memories Kim and Mill's ex-wife Lenore (Famke Janssen) join the badass-for-hire on a work trip to Istanbul where everyone can finally relax. That is until someone gets… taken.
In Taken 2 director Olivier Megaton (Transporter 3 Colombiana) sticks to the formula that helped transform Neeson into an aged action star laying out obvious hurdles for his MacGuyver-esque hero and letting fast-paced editing and Mills' fists do the heavy lifting. There's an added layer of character that feels like a tease: Mills and Kim are trying to act like a normal father/daughter — handed the horrific experience of learning to drive as their through-line conflict — and Megaton finds humorous ways to touch upon the struggle. In one sequence Kim drives a stolen taxi cab away from gun-toting pursuers as Mills dictates directions from the passenger side. The action movie equivalent of "10 and 2!" is shouted and all hell breaks loose in the moment of familial genius. But that's about it for Taken 2's innovation. More of the same is the goal here and the film delivers.
The only issue with straight up repeating Mills antics' from the first movie is that his new adversaries — relatives of the people he previously offed — are old and boring and easily defeated. Seeing schlubby Neeson slice dice and electrocute the private parts of men half his age was exciting. Seeing him do the same to senior citizens isn't. But Neeson is such a powerful onscreen force even Taken 2's slowest moments have a bit of a spark. He makes the nonsensical into pure Shakespeare; in hokey scenes where Mills pals around with his best buds Neeson drops lines that are laughable ("Oh can't we just talk about basketball!) — yet he owns them. We're chuckling with his awareness that Taken 2 is beyond silly.
The Irish actor originally signed on to play Mills in Taken because he was intrigued by the script and thrilled by the prospect of working with French filmmaker Luc Besson, who created his character.
Neeson expected the film to go straight to DVD, but it became an unexpected hit in 2008 and now the sequel is expected to debut at the top of the U.S. box office this weekend (05-07Oct12) as film experts predict a third movie.
But director Olivier Megaton insists although he's hoping to work with Neeson again it won't be on Taken 3.
He tells CinemaBlend.com, "We want to work with Liam again on another movie, and the priority is to do something else, another movie. I don't think that it will go on for Taken 3, I don't see the point.
"The second one, it was fine, we closed the books... If this one's a success too, maybe they're (Besson and screenwriter Robert Mark Kamen) going to think about it... but it will be very difficult to ask Liam to be back again. The logic of his character has ended."
And Neeson appears to agree - in a recent interview he insisted he won't return as Mills "unless (movie daughter) Maggie (Grace) takes over and once in a while she calls me".
In the sequel to the popular 2009 thriller, the Dutch beauty is abducted by criminals, who shove a bag over her head.
However, Janssen grew so anxious about the sequence, director Olivier Megaton decided to recruit a body double to fill in for her.
Janssen tells the New York Daily News, "I'm extremely claustrophobic. I wouldn't let them put the sack on my head until just before Olivier said, 'Action.' And then they had to rip it right off."
But the actress' dislike for small, dark spaces didn't just present a problem on the Taken 2 set - for her upcoming movie Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters, make-up artists had to create her facial plaster cast in different stages so as not to send her over the edge.
She adds, "They had to do a plaster cast of my face for the prosthetics. But they had to do it one half at a time, in pieces. I couldn't have my whole face covered. I even feel claustrophobic when I'm wearing prosthetic make-up."
The brand-new trailer for Taken 2 was unveiled on Thursday, and it looks like we're in for much more of the same Liam Neeson revenge action that made the first installment so popular — this time set against the beautiful backdrop of Istanbul!
Much of the original's cast and crew — with the glaring exception being Olivier Megaton replacing previous director Pierre Morel — has returned for Taken 2, which finds retired CIA Agent Bryan Mills (Neeson) on vacation in Istanbul with his wife (Famke Janssen) and daughter (Maggie Grace). Mills is soon forced back into action, however, when his wife is taken hostage by a revenge-seeking father (Rade Serbedzija).
Check out the trailer below, and don't miss Taken 2 when it hits theaters on Oct. 5.
Taken a Look at Liam Neeson: The Best Roles of the Unstoppable Actor
'Skyfall': Hollywood.com Visits the Istanbul Set of Bond's Latest Mission
Exclusive Interview with Liam Neeson and More
The revenge thriller Colombiana directed by Olivier Megaton stars Zoe Saldana as a woman who after witnessing her parents’ murder at the hands of ruthless narco-thugs grows up to become a professional assassin. The film which was written by Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen could very well serve as a companion piece or perhaps quasi-sequel to Besson’s 1994 classic The Professional. Whereas in that film Natalie Portman’s orphaned Mathilda is rebuked when she expresses her desire to become a “cleaner ” Saldana’s character Cataleya sees her trained-assassin dreams lovingly nurtured by her uncle Emilio (Cliff Curtis) a low-level crime boss in Chicago. Positive mentorship is so important.
She shows early promise. A first-act sequence in which Colombiana’s tone is cast sees young Cataleya (Amandla Stenberg) approached by the gunmen who’ve just finished executing her mother and father. Traumatized but composed she listens patiently as the oily lead goon played by Jordi Molla presses for information he knows she’s hiding. Just as the girl seems poised to comply she pulls out a giant knife pins the man’s hand to the table swears revenge and leaps out the nearest window. Her latent Bourne powers suddenly and inexplicably activated she leads her pursuers on a sprawling footchase through the streets of Bogota leaping from buildings sliding beneath barriers showing flashes of parkour before finally escaping to the sewers. The sequence is a microcosm for the film as a whole: slathered with action thin on plot utterly implausible.
Indeed Colombiana might be easily dismissed as another derivative and forgettable action film if it weren’t for the agile and focused Saldana grimly determined to wrest every ounce of character possible from the film’s perilously thin material. When we first meet her as the adult Cataleya she is already an accomplished assassin with dozens of kills under her belt. In between jobs she keeps a booty-call (Michael Vartan) on standby to fulfill her intimacy needs. He yearns for a deeper connection but she’s stubbornly closed-off only occasionally betraying glimpses of the emotional torment within. As essentially the inverse of the standard male assassin/ female love interest dynamic it stretches the limits of believability which is to say it’s entirely consistent with the rest of the film.
Colombiana’s plot such as it is turns on the most preposterous of coincidences and appears aimless for much of its second act. Cataleya takes out various high-level targets in sequences that are often thrilling in their complexity but their relationship to the main storyline – Cataleya exacting revenge against her parents’ killers – is unclear. Deprived of details Megaton expects us to subsist on action alone but it’s not enough to fill the void left by the absence of story. When Cataleya does eventually get down to the business of revenge it comes far too swiftly to provide any real satisfaction.
The trailer for Colombiana has just hit the web and it's pretty much exactly what you would expect from a movie tagged with, "From the writers of Taken." Centering on Cataleya Restrepo (played by Avatar's Zoe Saldana), the film follows her as she looks to take revenge on the Colombian drug lord who murdered her parents when she was 10. The film will be directed by Olivier Megaton (Transporter 3 and Taken 2) and hits theaters on September 2. Bottom line: there will be many, many explosions.
Olivier Megaton has taken the job of directing Taken 2 and Twentieth Century Fox has agreed to distribute the film worldwide. Without a doubt, the sequel will once again take place in Europe with Liam Neeson searching for his abducted daughter (or whoever the bad guys took this time).
Megaton, who is responsible for The Transporter 3 and this fall's Colombiana, will have lots to live up to with this sequel. The original took in over $225 million worldwide on a rumored $25 million budget despite being a fairly simple action flick. The story will have to greatly expand for the film to avoid treading water and Megaton, in addition to letting his crew know that he's not a Decepticon, will have to conjure all his action flick acumen to make Taken 2 as thrilling as the first.
After surviving the running jumping shooting and chasing from the first two Transporters Frank Martin (Statham) once again finds himself mixed up in mayhem. The latest “package” he is to deliver consists of Valentina (Natalya Rudakova) the kidnapped daughter of a powerful European politician (Jeroen Krabbe) who is being blackmailed by bad guys. Unless Frank delivers Valentina to those aforementioned bad guys he’ll go boom! See he’s been outfitted with a metal bracelet that will blow up if he strays too far from his beloved BMW. But as you might expect Frank is not one to take this sort of thing lying down and it’s not long before he’s turning the tables on his tormentors. What follows is the expected barrage of fisticuffs (choreographed by Corey Yuen) firepower and ferocity but all of it seems arbitrary this time as if the filmmakers are merely fulfilling a contractual obligation. The first Transporter was passable junk but the sequels have just been junk. Even fans may be turned off by the sheer overwhelming sense of familiarity. Statham is as buff and tough as ever but even he appears weary. Frank Martin is not a role with much depth or dimension which is patently obvious the third time around. Francois Berleand is also back as Inspector Tarconi by now Frank’s bosom buddy but always bringing up the rear. As the principal villain Robert Knepper scowls growls glowers and delivers the immortal line: “My name is not important.” Neither is the film he’s saying it in. Saving the worst for last is newcomer Rudakova making as inauspicious a screen debut as any actress in recent memory. With way too much eye shadow this freckle-faced beauty pouts purrs bats her eyelashes (all the better to emphasize the eye shadow) and gives her terrible role the performance it deserves. Krabbe who’s played his fair share of heavies picks up an easy check for basically showing up. There’s only so much former graffiti artist-turned-filmmaker Olivier Megaton brings to the party -- and it’s not a lot. After the first two films no one’s likely to tamper with the formula and Megaton doesn’t even try. The only surprising thing about the film – and it’s a mild one to be sure – is that it received a PG-13 rating given the incessant violence. Given the abundance of CGI visual effects on display here it’s entirely possible that the bloodier bits were digitally erased. Undoubtedly an unrated “director’s cut” DVD will soon be lurking on video shelves which is where this Thanksgiving turkey belongs.