BLU-RAY REVIEW: Taken Season One


THE SET-UP
Former Green Beret Bryan Mills (Clive Standen) joins the CIA after suffering a devastating loss, mixing international intrigue with his quest for vengeance. Also stars Jennifer Beals and Brooklyn Sudano.
Executive Producer: Luc Besson

Episodes on the two-disc set include: 1.1 “Pilot,” 1.2 “Ready,” 1.3 “Off Side,” 1.4 “Mattie G.,” 1.5 “A Clockwork Swiss,” 1.6 “Hail Mary,” 1.7 “Solo,” 1.8 “Leah,” 1.9 “Gone,” and 1.10 “I Surrender.”

Warning: This trailer contains spoilers to the pivotal first episode.


THE DELIVERY
If you didn’t catch the television version of Taken on NBC earlier this year, there are a few things you should know before catching up on Blu-ray. First, this isn’t a sequel or prequel to the Liam Neeson version. Producer Luc Besson,who brought us the films, does serve as executive producer of this reboot, set in the modern day and featuring a younger Bryan Mills (the character played iconically in the films by Neeson, of course).

The series delivers on a premise only hinted at in the film: Bryan Mills as the leader of an elite team that went on secret missions worldwide. In the film, they were a military unit, but for the series, they take a more practical route and make it a covert CIA team.

Mills is played by Clive Standen (“Vikings”) in the series, and while he bears only a slight resemblance to Neeson, he does manage to capture the persona of the character. After he suffers a tragic personal loss (we won’t spoil it for you), Mills is recruited by Christina Hart (Jennifer Beals), who leads an elite CIA team that handles high-risk situations around the world. He joins the CIA and quickly becomes a trusted member of the team. He is, however, hiding a secret.

Mills is using his position in the CIA to keep tabs on Carlos Mejia (Romano Orzari), a Mexican drug lord. Mejia is responsible for the tragedy in Mills’ life, and he is hoping for a chance at revenge.


That plot point runs throughout the season, but it doesn’t drive every episode. Instead, Taken has a very episodic feel, with a “mission of the week” format that takes the team to various places around the world. It can give the series a very familiar feel, and not necessarily in a good way. It borrows a bit from the police procedurals that dominate television now, but it mixes nice doses of political intrigue and action to give each episode a more original bend.

Clive Standen is outstanding in the lead, giving Mills the relentless drive and determination that Neeson brought to the character. The supporting cast is outstanding, with Beals a particular surprise. Hart is a loner and just as rigid and driven as Mills, and Beals pulls the character off well. They have great chemistry with the supporting cast, which includes Michael Irby, Jose Pablo Cantillo, Jennifer Marsala, and Brooklyn Sudano as Mills’ love interest.

It’s important to dismiss any expectations about the series that may be crafted from the film, as it serves only as an inspiration. This series has more depth and character development, and in the end, it is much more fulfilling. Sorry, Liam Neeson.

VIDEO AND AUDIO
The video transfer is solid, with a razor-sharp image and realistic, if somewhat muted colors. The cinematic look of the series translates well in high definition, providing an overall impressive image that even looked good upconverted on the 4K television we viewed it on. Audio is a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix, and it is rich, but not overly bombastic. It isn’t particularly active throughout the channels, but the proper balance is there, and you’ll have no complaints about with the clarity.


SPECIAL FEATURES
The two-disc set is surprisingly light on special features. Just a featurette and a digital copy. That is a real minus here, as a deeper look into the show would have served fans well.

“On-Set” Featurette. This primer to the series introduces the characters and the premise of the first season. Most of the actors participate in the featurette. Running Time: 4:33.

Digital Copy. A code for a digital version of the episodes, compatible with the Ultraviolet service, is included.

THE BOTTOM LINE: Taken rewrites the character, and creates a fantastic new mythology
Forget Liam Neeson - at least a little - Clive Standen is more than able to fill Bryan Mills’ shoes. That may sound sacrilege to action fans, but Taken: The Series expands on the character and the story in a way the films could not. Although a bit too episodic at times, the show is highly entertaining and sports a great cast. There’s only ten episodes in the first season, so it won’t take long for you to experience what it has to offer.


BLU-RAY SPECS
Release Date:September 26, 2017
Rating: Not Rated 
Running Time: 440 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Audio: English 5.1 Dolby Digital
Subtitles: English for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing
Special Features: “Taken: On-Set” featurette; Digital Copy.
Label: Lionsgate

Click here to order Taken: Season One on Blu-ray from Amazon!



Victor Medina is a freelance writer based in Dallas. He is the editor of several websites, and his writing credits include The Dallas Morning News, Yahoo News, Cinelinx.com and SportsIllustrated.com. He has served as a Dallas County election judge and on the Board of Directors of The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza in Dallas. You can follow him on his blog, VictorMedina.com or on Twitter at @mrvictormedina. He can be reached by email at vic@victormedina.com.

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