I want to start this review off with the following question: Why would you watch a prequel? For some, the answer might be that it fills out quite a few details in a wide universe, even if it leads to a conclusion that is already known. For others, the interest may be in exploring critical backstory that we need to know about a character. When the news broke that Taken would be adapted into a television series, fans of the franchise knew that they would have to consider these questions in order to figure out if the show belongs on their DVR.
Unfortunately, the answer is much more complicated than you might think.
The Cast Has Some Potential.
If you are going to watch Taken, you will have to do it for Clive Standen and Jennifer Beals. These two veterans of the screen give strong performances as a young Bryan Mills and Christina Hart, lending much needed gravitas to a story that works in some ways and not others. The trouble is that they may have to carry this show entirely on their own, mainly because the rest of the cast leaves something to be desired.
None of them are memorable in the slightest. That may be the fault of the writing, but it says something when it becomes next to impossible to say anything about them. Louis Ferreira shows up as a bad guy because Bryan Mills killed his son, but we don’t know enough about what happened.
The Action Scenes Are Well Shot, But…
While they are not up to the standards of Agents of SHIELD, the action scenes in Taken are well done and leave a lot to like. These scenes hinge a bit more on the building of tension than the (admittedly bloodless) gunplay, but that’s because there seems to be bits and pieces of a John Le Carre spy novel in here. It’s a slow burner like the films, but it works quite nicely until you realize that a fundamental flaw is baked right into the story.
There is no tension because of the film trilogy’s existence.
This show is going to be divided between the main story and operations of the week, so how are we going to get emotionally invested if there is no real danger?
What Is The Plot?
It is difficult to figure out if the story will be anything more than a by-the-numbers revenge thriller. While that may be nice for the writers, it doesn’t add much to the audience’s enjoyment of the series when the plot is so simple. Bryan’s sister was murdered because of an operation in Colombia, so he goes after a network of drug and weapons runners with the help of a female boss and some tech officers.
It’s not a bad set-up, but it restricts what the writers can do with the characters in a way that other shows are able to avoid.
So, should you watch it?
Taken is not an atrocious show, but it may be one that is limited in its’ appeal. If you are already a fan of the films, you may be better off watching something else unless you absolutely have to know about the career of Bryan Mills. If you have never heard of this series, this is not the kind of show that will demonstrate the power of the action thriller unless you want some mindless popcorn fun.
NBC could have done better than this.
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