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Film ● Mini-Reviews: Taken Clones and Derivatives

Ever since the release of Taken in 2008 starring Liam Neeson, there have been quite a few clones and derivatives; basically a “lone operative shoot ’em up” with an older lead. The Taken trilogy is written by Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen, and directed by Pierre Morel.


This template isn’t entirely new. Besson’s La Femme Nikita (1990) starring Anne Parillaud and its American remake The Assassin (1993) starring Bridget Fonda are contemporary titles which come to mind. Whilst these, of course, involve a relatively younger lead with a little femme fatale feel to them and are not quite shoot ’em ups, there is that “lone operative” aspect.


Go back a couple of years and we have Die Hard (1988) with an early-30s male lead. Although forced to deal with the problem alone, it doesn’t have that “lone operative” feel to it because John McClane is a detective—granted, outside his jurisdiction—and not some black ops agent, former or otherwise, operating mostly or entirely outside the system.


As for the action, there is no lack of it but it’s not a mere shoot ’em up either because Die Hard tries to be innovative, whether it is the filming and/or the clever tricks that the characters use. The series 24 is obviously inspired by Die Hard with Jack Bauer pushing the envelope of what it means to operate within the system.


But Taken is not the first contemporary “lone operative shoot ’em up” with an older lead. This honor, or at least one candidate, belongs to The Long Kiss Goodnight (1996) starring Geena Davis who was about 40 years old at the time. Although 40 isn’t that old, it is common for these roles to go to someone no older than early 30s.


Another obvious inspiration for Taken is the Bourne trilogy and although the latter has cool set pieces, its focus is on evasion rather than blowing people away.


So, if I have to provide a description of a Taken clone, it has (a) an older lead who (b) acts alone and somewhat outside of the established system with (c) consistent action that includes at least some use of firearms and (d) at least mildly dark in tone.


It is the last reason that excludes the likes of The Transporter trilogy because those films are clearly intended to be stupid, fast-paced fun, and the first two films were made prior to Taken anyway.


With that introduction out of the way, below is a short list of rapid-fire reviews (pun not intended) of so-called Taken clones as well as others which deviate somewhat but are nonetheless similar to or inspired by it in some respects.


No doubt there are plenty of other films that can be included. Perhaps more will be added over time. If interested, then please check this page once in a while. (The order is the approximate order of release. To avoid having all these mini-reviews bunched up together here at Opinyuns, the posting date is the approximate date of their original release.)



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