Over the run of the franchise, Taken has single-handedly cemented Liam Neeson’s role as an action star. The early stages of his career couldn’t have been further from this, with his most-known performance in Schindler’s List. Well into his 50s and 60s, though, he saw a decided shift in his casting. In 2005, he appeared as Gotham’s greatest enemy in Batman Begins, and then followed that up three years later with the very first Taken movie. Since then, he’s taken on action and fighting roles in The A Team, The Grey, and Clash of the Titans. Two more Taken movies later, and the 62-year-old Irishman has officially made the transition into full-on action hero.
Taken 3 is now out in the world as the alleged final installment in the franchise, leaving the newly minted action star free to pursue his next project: A movie that’s exactly like Taken minus the kidnapping. Run All Night stars Neeson alongside Ed Harris in a thriller focused on the main character as a man with “certain skills,” trying to protect his child at any cost. We once again get a look at Neeson sporting what we think is his attempt at an American accent, battling nondescript bad guys and shooting anyone who gets in his way.
This continues a long stream of Liam Neeson movies that Time notes are strikingly similar in just about every way:
We got Unknown (Taken with identity theft), The Grey (Taken with wolves), Taken 2 (Taken, but Taken-ier) and Non-Stop (Taken on a plane). Sure, that’s oversimplifying things a bit, but not by much. In each one (all released in the last five years), Neeson plays a gruff protagonist who must save someone — or someones — with his hidden and unparalleled set of “skills.”
Run All Night fits this profile to a tee, as we see Hollywood going to the well to capitalize on the success of the first Taken that netted $145 million at the box office, according to Box Office Mojo. But with each movie in the series, audiences have been less and less interested: Taken 2 made a little less at $139 million, while the third and supposed final installment has brought in just $44 million so far. Naturally, this begs the question of whether or not Run All Night will manage to set itself apart in any way from the latter years of Neeson’s action movie career.
At this point, we imagine a world where a script crosses the desk of Neeson’s agent, and a phone call later we have another Taken-esque adventure just like the last one. Incidentally, Run All Night is directed by Jaume Collet-Serra, the same guy behind Non-Stop and Unknown, so from the sound of it, Neeson isn’t the only one involved with making virtually the same movie again and again.
We hope for Run All Night to expand on Taken rather than repeating it, but expectations aren’t particularly high for a movie that looks like more of the same based on the elements the initial trailer is showing us. What it really represents is the next installment in a long line of films that could conceivably be their own singular franchise. The Liam Neeson in The Grey is nigh indiscernible from the Liam Neeson of Run All Night, making it hard to keep getting excited for what amounts to the same movie again and again. Sorry Liam, those “skills” just aren’t enough anymore.