Writer-director-producer Luc Besson has a habit of creating popular cinematic characters that migrate to television. In 1997, La Femme Nikita brought the premise of his 1990 film Nikita to the small screen (and again, with Nikita in 2010), while 2012 saw the television arrival of Transporter: The Series. The latest to join this elite club is the character of Bryan Mills from the Taken franchise, as NBC have just ordered Besson’s latest TV pitch straight to series.
The Taken movie franchise spans three films, and gave the career of Liam Neeson a new lease of life in the action genre. Written by Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen, it told the story of a former CIA operative who must re-engage his training in order to retrieve his kidnapped daughter. Thanks to Neeson’s towering display of an unflinching passion for revenge, the movies quickly became iconic, to the extent that the main character – Bryan Mills – was soon open for parody. Specifically, his infamous statement to his daughter’s kidnapper, in which he details his ‘particular set of skills’ and how he plans to use them, has entered the annals of movie history as an eminently quotable line.
The TV series that NBC has ordered will be a prequel to the movie franchise. That means we will see a much younger Bryan Mills – long before marriage and fatherhood feature in his plans. We will, essentially, see him in the process of acquiring that legendary skill-set, in what will presumably take the form of a CIA/secret agent type of drama. It will, however, have a contemporary setting – which suggests there may be some differences between the television and film versions.
Luc Besson will serve as co-producer on the project, and will undoubtedly be involved in a writing – and possibly directorial – capacity, to some extent, as has been seen in previous television adaptations of his work. The question is, who will be cast in the lead role? Which young actor can possibly step into the role made famous by an intimidating Liam Neeson – albeit a younger version of such? Taylor Kitsch might be the obvious (though maybe a little too old) choice, but with a straight-to-series order in hand, casting announcements should follow soon enough.