Liam Neeson‘s late career reinvention as one of cinema’s premiere action heroes might never have even happened had Taken gone to plan. Not only was Jeff Bridges originally cast as Bryan Mills before dropping out of the lead role, but his replacement thought that the low budget B-movie would be sent straight to video.
The main reason he signed on in the first place was because he liked the sound of a four-month Paris shoot, and had always wanted to try his hand at some old fashioned running and gunning, which was the type of part he was rarely offered at the time.
Of course, Taken ended up being one of 2008’s biggest sleeper hits, raking in over $226 million at the box office and instantly turning Neeson into the genre’s premiere grizzled badass. A franchise was inevitably born, with the sequel pretty much repeating the same formula as the first installment, but Taken 2‘s global haul of $376 million was a massive improvement despite the movie being fairly lacklustre.
The entire appeal of the series was watching the leading man punching bad guys in the throat and dispensing his own unique brand of vigilante justice, which is why plenty of eyes were rolled when it was announced that Taken 3 was set to water itself down in order to secure a PG-13 rating.
Unsurprisingly, it was the weakest entry by some distance, although there is some unintentional hilarity to be found in a foot chase sequence that’s been edited to within an inch of its life to disguise Liam Neeson‘s well known hatred of running on camera. The movie has been mostly forgetten about since its release, but Taken 3 is now the latest in a never ending line of B-tier actioners to prove hugely popular on Netflix, where it’s currently the tenth most-watched title on the platform around the world.