Blu-ray Review: Taken: Season One

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All ten episodes of Taken: Season One are collected throughout two discs on the NBC series' Blu-ray release. Produced by the creator of the Taken franchise Luc Besson, the series is ostensibly a prequel to the 2008 Liam Neeson-starring film. Clive Standen (Vikings) takes over Neeson's duties as a young Bryan Mills. Early on, Mills witnesses the murder of his sister during an attempt to thwart terrorists on a train. The event haunts (and drives) him, initially hampering his training after being recruited as a government operative by Christina Hart (Jennifer Beals).

Much of the success of the Taken feature-film trilogy, more specifically the first one (the sequels rapidly demonstrated the limits of the concept), was due to its sheer simplicity. Someone close to Bryan Mills is abducted, so Mills must the utilize his "very particular set of skills" to make a rescue. In order to expand this to an on-going series with a story arc, Taken itself is in fact "taken" from its roots. The series plays out much like any contemporary political action thriller, a la Homeland or Strike Back or any number of other series that have covered similar territory more effectively.

As Mills becomes embroiled in drug cartels and international terrorist activities, Standen does what he can to distinguish himself Neeson's formidable shadow. No matter how silly the Taken sequels became (and that's pretty silly), Neeson's intensity always managed to help make the movies stick. Standen's Mills never really evokes an earlier version of the same character (the contemporary setting, as opposed to a 20-plus-years-ago setting that would've actually made a more appropriate timeline, doesn't help).

Lionsgate's Taken: Season One Blu-ray boasts a superb 1080p transfer, right in line with any recent network television series. For some strange reason, there is no lossless audio track—just a Dolby Digital 5.1 surround mix. Not the end of the world or even a deal-breaker for anyone interested in the series, but a strange choice nonetheless. Also contributing to a seemingly disincentive to actually purchase the physical media, the only "bonus" feature is a five-minute promo featurette ("Taken: On Set").

Taken returns for a 16-episode second season on NBC, premiere details yet to be revealed. Clive Standen and Jennifer Beals are set to return, while most of the season one cast has been replaced.

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Chaz Lipp writes for The Morton Report.

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