Taken Premiere NBC Review

NBC's Taken: Is Young Bryan Mills' Set of Skills Particularly Interesting?

NBC this Monday served up Taken, it’s prequel, set in 2017, to the film franchise that started up in 2008. Will you stick around to follow the evolution of Bryan Mills’ certain grouping of abilities?

Whereas Mills when we met him in the first Taken film was a retired CIA operative, here (with Vikings‘ Clive Standen succeeding/preceding? Liam Neeson) he only has his Green Beret past behind him, having served three tours in Afghanistan. He is making a trip home, via train, with his younger sister Cali, when he senses something isn’t quite kosher. Bryan gruffly whispers directions for Cali to follow, to keep her safe as he sizes things up, but once all the fighting and shooting is done, all of the passengers are alive and well… except her.

Bryan’s bittersweet heroics catch the attention of a super-secret somethingoranother group led by Jennifer Beals, who speculate that he had been targeted by cartel boss Carlos Meija, seeking revenge for Bryan’s killing of his son (who had a DEA agent at gunpoint during an undercover op). Bryan meanwhile  about laying his sister to rest back home — looking over his shoulder at all times, especially when black paneled vans lurk down the street. After a skirmish with one such van, Bryan brushes off his father’s plea to sit still and instead holes up at his own, remote house, where he quite ably fends off three would-be assassins and kills a fourth. “Dudes got some skills,” says one of Beals’ charges, surveying Mills’ handiwork.

Mills reaches out to the DEA agent whose life he saved years ago, warning that he will be targeted as well. But after hanging up, Bryan sees a text message arrive on the phone of the assassin he killed — from his DEA agent pal. Bryan leads his friend to believe he got taken out, then gets the jump on him in a parking garage. After eluding another killer during a parking garage car chase, Mills and the DEA dude retreat to some metro tunnels, where the latter explains that his own family was being threatened. “Don’t ever have kids — especially not a daughter,” he advises Mills, wink-wink.

After sparing the snitch’s life, Mills allows himself to be captured by Meija‘s men, who then string him up in a remote barn. There, Meija himself arrives to confront his son’s killer — and exact more revenge, while Mills realizes that the cartel boss was the actual triggerman on the train. That is when Beals’ team swoops in on the scene, teeing up a massive shootout. Mills gets free and trains a gun on his sister’s killer, but gets shot by Beals’ men before he can kill Meija.

When Mills wakes up in a Buffalo hospital, Beals introduces herself as Christina Hart, the deputy director of a special portfolio (“emergency covert action team”) of the Office of National Intelligence, where she answers to the president. She says that she sees in Mills a man who is “wired to protect others,” and explains that in keeping Meija alive, they can do much good working off of the valuable intel he can provide. Will Bryan be a part of Hart’s team? Or will he let Cali’s death be for nothing?

Will you keep tabs on NBC’s Taken?

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29 Comments
  1. the sister’s name is cali/callie
    it was good but calling it a prequel but setting it in the present day is stupid

    • Matt Webb Mitovich says:

      All fixed, thanks for the catch.

    • PatriciaLee says:

      The husband is really into Roy Rogers reruns, lately. They mixed some 1880’s type western stuff with 1950’s life stuff, and in retrospect it’s amazing it really worked at the time of original broadcast. It doesn’t even jar in the 2010’s. The human mind has great capacity for rearrangement, I guess.

    • Jacob says:

      The prequel premise threw me off at first, but if you think about it, A&E did the same thing with Bates Motel. It’s a prequel to Psycho set in the present, and it worked out very well. I think this just feels weirder because of how relatively recent the Taken movies are.

  2. Louis E. says:

    In DC Comics terms,Liam Neeson is the “Earth-Two” Bryan Mills,and the television version is his “Earth-One” counterpart.If they were the same one this would have to be set in the 1980s.

  3. RichieS says:

    So does Cali’s flirty friend end up being Brian’s baby mama?

  4. Fran says:

    It was actually a really good action show. Just wish it had a different name. Calling it Taken brings a certain set of expectations. This show is solid: just ignore the name.

    • Otis says:

      That is pretty much the same thing I told my wife after watching it last night.

    • Camellia says:

      I thought it was way too cliche. It seems Hollywood doesn’t have an original thought anymore.

    • grys03 says:

      Agreed. It’s biggest failings are the name of the show & the fact that it’s all been done before. Super-duper ex military guy gets recruited by high-level covert ops team.
      .
      But, it was a solid start & enjoyable to watch.

  5. Rick Katze says:

    Definitely worth a second look.

    • Camellia says:

      What for? So NBC can scare the crap out of already frightened right-wingers by making them believe there is a terrorist around every corner? Ridiculous show. I’ll be skipping it.

  6. Sarah D says:

    Loved it! There was a time or two, that I thgt that Clive Standen actually looked liked Liam Neeson. Looking forward to the next episode.

  7. Max says:

    Loved it. Had me hooked from beginning to end. Didn’t look at my phone once, unlike Timeless which had me only half interested every time the name Rittenhouse came up.

    • CJ Lane says:

      Well I guess that’s the difference between people who love “shoot-em-up” shows and people who love shows that are thought provoking and intelligent. Timeless is ten times better than Taken. Taken is a cheap cliche trying to scare the crap out of already frightened and anxious right-wingers who believe there is a terrorist waiting around every corner.

      • Annie says:

        Whoa, so if we like Taken we are either stupid or right-wingers or both? I’m neither stupid or a right-wing and you are ruuuuude.
        By the way. I like Timless, but ten times better is stretching it.

  8. justsomeguy says:

    Very good. But I know the ratings will be rather low, but for a pilot episode, it was really good.

  9. drb999 says:

    Sure the action beats have all been done before but they did a good job with it

  10. Honest says:

    Dude is sexy, so at least there’s that?

  11. MMD says:

    I found it too distracting with the Toronto GoTrain, the subway tunnels, and so many other familiar sights. Too many shows are shooting in the same places like Toronto, Calgary, Vancouver (basically the entire BC coast) and the show runners aren’t even trying to make it look like somewhere else.

  12. jj says:

    Better than I expected. I hope this one sticks because I want to keep seeing Beal on the small screen.

  13. Fido says:

    Sold on the premise, but felt the action left a little to be desired – didn’t capture the Taken-ness. Will be tuning in for more though.

  14. michaelA says:

    Well I certainly looked forward to this. But I was thrown by the plot in general. I guess I thought that we were going to see some “taken” style rescues. Never the less, I will continue to watch and see where it goes.

  15. sedgewren says:

    I am definitely looking forward to the next episode. The union of the emotional ex-military guy with the crack intelligence team looks like a winner, assuming that union happens. Standen and Beals are well cast and I’m predicting it will be fun to see them work together. They’re both nice to look at which is always a plus! I’m not sure NBC had to base it on Taken, but maybe they thought it would help them get over that new show entrance barrier. The show stands on its own, so I’m not looking for loyalty to the movies.

  16. CJ Lane says:

    WORSE than I expected. ‘Taken’ is a typical predictable show trying to capitalize on terrorism. BORING and not unique in the least.