Taken (film)

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
You'd best listen.

Bryan Mills: I don't know who you are. I don't know what you want. If you are looking for ransom, I can tell you I don't have money. But what I do have are a very particular set of skills; skills I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you. If you let my daughter go now, that'll be the end of it. I will not look for you, I will not pursue you. But if you don't, I will look for you, I will find you, and I will kill you.
Marko: Good luck.

An intense 2008 rescue thriller produced by French auteur Luc Besson and directed by Pierre Morel. AKA "The Bourne Paternity".

Liam Neeson plays Bryan Mills, a former special-forces commander attempting to reconnect with his estranged daughter Kimmy, who is currently living with her remarried-to-a-millionaire mother. He took up the job of being a bodyguard to help pay the bills.

Things turn ugly when Kimmy is kidnapped by Albanian sex-traffickers on a trip to Paris on her 17th Birthday.

Bryan courteously warns his daughter's captors that he has "a particular set of skills that will make their lives very miserable" and that he will kill all of them if they do not let her go. They ignore his warning.

Bryan was not bluffing when he claimed to be a frighteningly skilled old warrior whose brutality would make Jason Bourne seem like a pussycat in comparison.

Hell hath no fury like a father protecting his little girl, as the underworld of Paris soon learns the hard and painful way. At times, this film is high comedy, albeit of an extremely sadistic kind.

The first film in the Taken franchise, Taken was followed by two sequels—Taken 2 and Taken 3—released in 2012 and 2014, respectively. A television series for the series premiered in 2017.

Not related to the Alien Abduction Miniseries "Stephen Spielberg's Taken"

Tropes used in Taken (film) include:
  • America Saves the Day: An American Retired Badass puts a whole Parisian kidnapping and slavery ring on its knees in just three days while the French authorities are shown to be complicit in the trafficking. Less of an example than most in that the grudge is personal and bringing the ring down is more a side effect of Brian finding his daughter than his goal.
  • Amicably Divorced: Not at the beginning of the film, mind you; but when Bryan single-handedly saved Kimmy's life he certainly reclaimed a measure of love from his ex-wife, not to mention gaining the friendship and respect of her husband.
  • Anti-Hero: Bryan Mills, who is a Type IV.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: Sheik Raman's Dragon is probably the only person in the entire film to be on equal footing with Bryan in a fight... or the only person who lasts more than 30 seconds against him, anyway.
  • Awesome Yet Practical: Bryan's martial arts style obeys the laws of gravity and physics, and involves no somersaults or fancy kicks—he even refuses to use Guns Akimbo when he has two pistols. His style basically consists of ramming hard things into people's heads, and ramming people's heads into hard things, and dammit, it works really well.
    • Even regular kicking is avoided, which is a surprising bit of Shown Their Work for Hollywood. Many martial arts experts agree that kicking is mostly ineffective in a Real Life fight.
  • Badass Boast: The opening quote for this page. Too bad for the Albanians who thought he was bluffing.
    • Also, when talking to his friend in the Parisian police:

Jean-Claude: You can't just go around tearing up Paris-
Bryan: I will tear down the Eiffel Tower if I have to!

  • Badass Grandpa: Well, Badass Dad if you want to get technical. It's never specified how old Bryan is, but Liam Neeson is pushing 60, and Brian's age is mentioned to be a factor, but he can still waste a dozen villains half his age without breaking a sweat, and it's only near the very end of the movie that he starts visibly feeling the strain.
  • Badass Longcoat: In some of the publicity shots and part of Bryan's outfit for much of the film.
  • Bad Cop, Incompetent Cop: Pretty much the whole force seen in the film, though it could be that the "incompetent" cops are merely overshadowed by Bryan's awesome.
    • The "incompetent" part is easily understood if you compare a regular, day-to-day cop and lazy bodyguards to an ex-CIA agent whose life was black-ops.
  • Bald of Evil
  • Based on a Great Big Lie: One William Hillar, who was eventually revealed to be a fraud who never even served in the military, said that this happened to him in Asia. In his version, it was the friend who survived, not his daughter.
  • Black and Gray Morality: The protagonist is an ex-special forces soldier who tortured people in the past (that's where he learned his "technique"), is merciless toward his enemies and threatens an innocent person and then carries through on it by shooting her in the arm as she's serving dinner and while their children have just gone to bed, and threatens to finish the job if her husband doesn't comply on one occasion. His opponents are sex-slavers, a profession not exactly known for being all that sympathetic.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Bryan's friend Sam shows up for a buddy get-together that reveals some of Bryan's past and is clearly still a part of the system. He is later called up to get some information about what happened to Kim and what their best options are.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Bryan is a god of this trope. Let's see: aiming for the nuts 90% of the time, playing dead in a shoot-out, shooting someone in the back, shooting someone who let their guard down for one microsecond just to talk, aiming for the head in a hostage standoff, the list goes on...
  • Compensating for Something: When Bryan and Stewart are arguing, before Brian has revealed Kim has been kidnapped, and is asking Stewart questions about his business to determine if it had anything to do with Kim being kidnapped, Stewart starts playing the rich guy card, and Brian yells, "This is no time for dick measuring!"
  • Completely Different Title: In Germany, the movie is known as 96 Hours...complete without translation in English, making finding this article exceptionally hard without the help of IMDB.
    • And in Russia it's called "The Hostage" (Заложница).
    • In Italy, it became "Io vi troverò" ("I will find you").
    • In Brazil, it's "Busca Implacável" ("Relentless Search").
  • Curb Stomp Battle: Bryan cleans house with the mooks (barring The Dragon). Considering who he is, it makes sense.
  • Damsel in Distress: Poor Kim. After her ordeal, she'll never disobey her father again.
  • Death by Sex: Kim is a virgin, as the plot goes out of its way to note. Amanda apparently isn't, and was looking forward to having fun abroad. Guess who dies? Amanda not being a virgin and also being the one who dies is a case of Truth in Television for this movie; the way they treated Kim and Amanda depending on their virginity is something that happens with most sex-slavers in real life.
  • Determinator: By the end of the movie, Bryan has a bullet wound, multiple knife wounds, been beaten in fisticuffs pretty badly by the sheik's Dragon, and most likely has a broken ankle, and still manages to massacre every Mook on the yacht. And that's just the last action sequence. Adrenaline's a hell of a drug.
  • Dirty Coward: The young "recruiter" guy, Peter.
  • Disposable Woman: The whole plot revolves around this; the reason Kim exists is so that she can be kidnapped, giving her father an excuse to show what a Badass he is.
  • Downer Ending: Subverted so you don't feel worried about the victims of the Albanian's trafficking of women. Bryan took out major figureheads along the way of finding Kim so it's fair to say the entire operation has suffered a heavy blow by the end of the film.
  • The Dragon: The very last guy Bryan confronts on the boat before the Sheikh gives the former a good fight, inflicting nearly every single wound Bryan has by the time he saves Kim. The guy still dies anyway.
  • Electric Torture: Played terrifyingly straight. Also averts the trope association of there not being any visible wounding, the electric current is being run into the mook by nails shoved directly into his thigh. And this scene was edited and censored for the American theatrical release, so the movie would have a nice comfortable PG-13 rating. There were no ten-penny nails used, instead the jumper cables were attached to the metal of the chair. It was restored for the extended edition DVD and Blu ray release.
  • Enhance Button: One of the clues he follows is a memory card from his daughters broken cell phone. He finds a picture with a reflection of someone following them around. He doesn't zoom in much, but he is able to enhance it using a contrast & sharpen filter at a kiosk to get a good look at his face.
  • Establishing Character Moment: The first half hour makes it very clear several things. 1) Bryan loves his daughter more than anything else. 2) Bryan is a stickler for details and does everything with a precise edge to it. 3) He has a past life of undisclosed international field work that leaves him one of the most lethal people on the planet. The rest of the movie is showing what happens when someone takes away the first point.
  • Experienced Protagonist: Bryan Mills has "a very particular set of skills; skills ... acquired over a very long career." The kidnappers of his daughter laugh off his attempt at getting them to let her go. They don't live to regret doing so.
  • Expy: The movie has been compared with 24; Bryan is Jack Bauer, Kim is Kim Bauer, Lenore is Teri Bauer. When Kim is kidnapped, Bryan's CIA friends say that analysts give them ninety-six hours (four days) before Kim disappears completely. Jean-Claude resembles Christopher Henderson, considering that both went from agents to desk jobs, both had their wives shot by the Bryan/Jack to force Jean-Claude/Christopher to give up information, and both tried to shoot Bryan/Jack with a gun that the Bryan/Jack had already taken the bullets out of. Oh, and Xander Berkeley, who plays George Mason, plays Stuart, Kim's stepfather. Oh and Amanda's Janet York.
    • Bryan comes off very similar to Sam Fisher in Splinter Cell: Conviction, and the film was released in Ubisoft's native France in 2008, and the US in 2009. SCC came out the next year, and shares elements such as parts of the fighting style, and the plot of a Papa Wolf seeking his daughter and happening upon a major criminal plot on the way.
  • Foe-Tossing Charge: Essentially the entire movie.
  • Generic Ethnic Crime Gang: The primary antagonists are from an Albanian organized crime ring.
  • Genre Blind: If the antagonists of this film had so much as a shred of savvy, they would've let Kim and Amanda go and got the hell out of the apartment while Papa Wolf was in a charitable mood.
  • Go-Go Enslavement: With an unpleasantly appropriate justification.
  • Grievous Bottley Harm: Used in the final fight on the Sheikh's boat, where both Bryan and one of the Sheikh's men resort to using wine bottles.
  • Groin Attack
  • Guyliner: One of the Sheikh's men on the boat has this, and he proves to be the most Badass of them during his fight with Bryan before he finally goes down.
  • Hilarity Ensues: Marko twitching like a cockroach hit by a slipper when Bryan turns on the power. What did that dumb rapist expect to happen when he spat at a man who has just slammed two long and rusty nails into his thighs attached to a fuse box?
  • I'll Kill You!
  • Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: Considering the type of movie this is, this trope is unavoidable, but there is one particularly bad case of it at the movie's climax: The Dragon unloads countless of rounds point blank at Bryan Mills, and all but one bullet miss.
  • Invincible Hero: Throughout the whole entire movie, it seems Bryan's a badass who never gets hit once and everything's going in his favor. However, he does get attacked from behind, gets knocked out, and gets stuck in a trap. However, he quickly escapes and kills everyone there.
  • Ironic Echo: The phrase "Good luck." Not in the usual way but perhaps even more Badass. Bryan tricks the Mook who said it to him over the phone into repeating it to him in person right before he reveals who he is.
  • ISO Standard Urban Groceries: Bryan uses a bag as camouflage to get into the Paris apartment. Jean-Claude also carries home a baguette for dinner.
  • It's Personal: "It was just business, Nothing Personal!" "It was all personal to me." * BANG* *BANG* *BANG* *BANG* *BANG* *BANG* *BANG* *BANG*
  • It Works Better with Bullets: In one of the trope's finest-ever uses.
  • I Will Find You: Bryan never says this to his daughter, and the search is on fast forward, but Bryan still tears Paris a new asshole in service of this trope.
  • Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: Oh, the Electric Torture.

Bryan: "I need you to be focused!" (slams nails into man's thighs) ARE YOU FOCUSED YET?!

  • Jittercam: Thankfully not to the extent of the Bourne movies, but yeah.
  • Karmic Death: Possibly good luck for the Dirty Coward, since as we see later, it prevented him from being 'interrogated'.
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch: Or Torture the Son of a Bitch though. Normally, having the protagonist torture someone for information is a major Kick the Dog. But then this movie presents us with someone who totally deserves to have Electric Torture done to him through rusty nails jammed into his legs. The whole movie is basically "Kick The Sons of Bitches: The Film".
  • Killed Mid-Sentence: "We can negoti--" *BANG*
  • Knight Templar Parent: Even better when you consider that Liam Neeson's last major role before this film was as a Crusader knight.
  • Le Cops Sportif
  • The Man Behind the Curtain
  • Mooks: And more mooks, and more mooks, and, just for a change of pace, even more mooks...
  • Murder Is the Best Solution: There's 50 mooks between you and your daughter, better get started.
  • My Girl Is Not a Slut: Kim's virginity is friggin' plot armor.
    • Justified: Virgins carry a much better fetching price in human trafficking markets. Bryan saved Kim just in the nick of time.
  • Nebulous Criminal Conspiracy: The actual abductors are lowlife thugs from the Albanian mafia, but as Bryan carves his way through Paris to find his daughter he discovers they are just part of a much wider and more sinister network existing at all levels of society, including the police and high-placed city officials, with clients including a wealthy Arab oil sheik.
  • Never Bring a Knife to A Fist Fight: The guy who attempted to attack pop star Sheerah. Subverted when The Dragon, after bringing out a knife, is only defeated subsequent to wounding Bryan some.
    • Then again, the former was just an average crazy stalker. The latter used special knives with tremendous skills.
  • Not Even Bothering with the Accent: When Bryan impersonates Jean-Claude, no one questions why a French policeman has an Irish accent, let alone why one is speaking English.
  • Oh Crap: The look on the man's face when Bryan says to him "I told you I would find you."
    • Also, Saint-Clair when Bryan gets out of the trap in the mansion. As soon as they exchange looks, Saint-Clair runs for his life. He dies.
  • One-Man Army: The main character goes through an underground sex-trafficking crime ring the same way Leon Kennedy goes through a Spanish peasant village.
    • It's practically a meme these days to call this film "that movie where Liam Neeson kills half of Europe".
  • One-Scene Wonder: The pop star Bryan saves in the beginning has a handful of lines in the beginning and a brief scene at the end, but her character is incredibly well developed in that short amount of time.
  • One Riot, One Ranger: Justified due to the very narrow window of opportunity to rescue his daughter, and the particular set of skills that he possesses. That said, he does get specialized assistance from time to time, such as the Albanian translator, or Stuart hiring the jet to get him to Paris.
  • Overprotective Dad: Heavily justified.
  • Papa Wolf: All those other tropes on this page having "Trope Name: The Movie"? They're not. This movie is Papa Wolf: The Movie.
  • Parental Neglect: It's revealed that Brian is guilty of this due to his career in the CIA and is why Lenore divorced him, though it's clear that he does feel guilty about it.
  • Pay Evil Unto Evil: Bryan does this a lot. In fact, the film's general message is that sometimes it's necessary for The Hero to do bad things.
  • Pop Cultural Osmosis Failure: Subverted.

Bryan Mills: Who's Beyonce? Beat. Just kidding.

  • Properly Paranoid: The Overprotective Dad is proven absolutely right in every way to have tried forbidding his daughter from traveling overseas. As well, the conditions he sets when he finally allows her to go (regular phone calls and such) are the only reason they had any sort of chance of rescuing her.
    • Liam Neeson has stated that the movie caused some cases of this in real life. People have come up to him and told him they will never send their kids to Europe, which he's not too happy about.
  • Protagonist-Centered Morality: Bryan comes off this way as he initially appears to care only about his daughter and doesn't help any of the other victims.
    • Somewhat justified, as he only has a 96 hour window to find his daughter and stopping to help the other girls would only cost him valuable time. It's also undermined by the fact during the course of the search, Bryan managed to kill off most of the figureheads behind the slaving ring, likely destroying the entire setup.
  • Proof I Am Not Bluffing: Bryan demonstrates that he is willing to do anything to get his daughter back by shooting the wife of his French police contact and threatening to kill her if he won't co-operate.
  • Punch Clock Villain: Patrice tries to paint himself this way, but fails to convince Bryan.
  • Reassigned to Antarctica: In the past, Bryan left a mission to attend Kim's birthday party and got reassigned to Alaska for his actions.
  • Retired Badass: Bryan.
  • Rich Bitch: Lenore, Bryan's ex-wife. She has good reason for not liking Bryan, mainly that he wasn't around due to his career taking out very bad people in the CIA, but she winds up looking spiteful and manipulative instead. She repeatedly tries to distance her daughter from Bryan (thankfully unsuccessful) and flaunt the fact that her new husband is richer and can afford nicer things for Kim. This invokes Disproportionate Retribution when you consider the fact that the woman yells at Bryan for trying to give his daughter a gift on her birthday (an Abusive Parent might deserve that treatment, not a guy who simply worked odd hours). And then children of divorce often play one against the other, so their daughter likely played off the tension to get more out of both of them.
    • Pop star Sheerah initially seems like this when, upon being asked by Bryan if she can give his aspiring-to-be-singer daughter any tips, she responds, "Tell her to pick another career." It's later revealed after Bryan saves Sheerah from an attacker that she meant it as a warning, as a lucrative career in the music industry is "not what everyone thinks it is". She ends up giving the number of her vocal coach and her manager to Bryan when he simply responds, "That's what she wants."
  • Roaring Rampage of Rescue: The Movie.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge
  • Ruthless Foreign Gangsters: The Albanian gangsters.
  • Scary Black Man: He appears just long enough to get his ass completely whupped by Bryan.
  • Serious Business: Apparently, sex slaver Marko values keeping the location of our protagonist's daughter secret more than his own life. He's probably worried that his colleagues would do worse if they found out. Oooooh boy is he wrong.
  • She's All Grown Up: Kim. The film opens with home movies of her as a little girl, and then fast forwards to her as a 17 year old (sort of). Plus, this is no doubt what made her so appealing to the sex trafficking scout.
  • Shoot the Dog: Shooting Jean Claude's innocent wife.
  • So Beautiful It's a Curse: Literally for Kimmy and Amanda, who get targeted by the Albanians because they're hot and can fetch a lot of money as Sex Slaves.
  • Spiritual Successor: ABC's Missing, starring Ashley Judd, is about a former CIA agent Mama Bear looking for her abducted son and stumbling onto some sort of larger plot. However, Becca Winstone has more backup and friends than Mills.
  • Spoiled Sweet: Kimmy is certainly spoiled by her multi-millionare step-dad, but she doesn't short her real dad on some love and hugs at her birthday party (Her scream of joy at the step-dad's pony gift was louder, but she wasn't faking with the karaoke machine from Bryan). This is also in contrast to her Mom trying to trivialize his presence.
  • Talk to the Fist: Or 'bullet' as the case may be.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Kim and Amanda, but mostly Amanda as Kim had reservations about all the information Amanda was sharing. Two young, pretty American women who don't speak much French go to Paris alone, they accept a car ride with a stranger, they let the stranger see the exact address where they are staying, they tell the stranger where in the building they will be staying and that they will be alone in the apartment. It's as though they went down a checklist of things not to do when traveling.
    • The human traffickers organization runs on the premise that the best women are young girls with rich families that can send them on vacation who have the diplomatic clout to demand investigations. Better yet, they operate at a post 9/11 airport so that they can be recorded by security cameras talking to the girls at their last known location. Even if Bryan hadn't made his roaring rampage of rescue, the families would be demanding answers, the news media would be having a field day, and the French government would have shut the whole thing down within a week (maybe). Human trafficking only works when nobody cares enough about the victims.
    • Let's not forget the fact that they totally took Bryan's threat lightly...
    • Special mention goes to the guy on the receiving end of the Electric Torture. When someone has jammed three-inch nails into your legs, what you don't want to do is spit in their face. Twice.
  • Tranquil Fury
  • Try and Follow: Done semi-successfully by one of the Mooks Bryan tracks down.
  • The Un-Reveal: It's never fully explained what Bryan used to do, his conversation with his buddies and former co-workers implies any combination of wet work, special forces or intelligence/counter intelligence work. Kimmy admitted she was afraid to ask what he did and all he explained was "a Preventer." A "Preventer" of the type known in the movies to inhabit Langley, Virginia would seem to be a safe assumption.
  • Underestimating Badassery: Bryan explains to a number of people that he wants his daughter back: first to Marko, to whom he issues a simple proposal - "If you let my daughter go now, that'll be the end of it. I will not look for you, I will not pursue you. But if you don't, I will look for you, I will find you, and I will kill you" - doesn't work; then he tells his old colleague Jean-Claude that he won't leave Paris without his daughter; finally he offers trafficker Patrice Saint-Clair a get-out clause if he just gives him Kim. Even by the point that he's proven he's essentially a one-man army, nobody takes his threats seriously.
  • The Unfettered: Bryan is the living embodiment of this. Nothing is going to stop him from finding his daughter and there is no line he will not cross to find her. He even claimed to be willing to kill two old friends if they didn't help him achieve his goal. All of Bryan's actions in the movie indicate that he was not bluffing.
  • Unstoppable Rage
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Covered more in Headscratchers.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: A mutual accusation between Bryan and Lenore regarding Kimmy's Paris trip. Lenore called him out for crushing her dream almost on the spot, while Bryan told her off for making it a double-team ordeal where he was the bad guy by default.
  • Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?: The villains suffer from this. Bryan doesn't.
  • Worf Had the Flu: Bryan starts to run on fumes by the end (in addition to his hurry to finally get to Kim) which results in some tougher fights. Despite getting hurt a bit more, he doesn't stop.
  • Would Hit a Girl: But it was Only a Flesh Wound.
  • Your Princess Is in Another Castle: Practically the movie's entire premise.