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You guys remember the 1992 Steven Seagal action-on-a-boat flick Under Siege, right? It came right at the tail end of the action hero renaissance popularized by the Die Hard films, among many others. It wasn’t a fantastic movie or anything, but it was goofy and enjoyable, and wasn’t a waste of anyone’s time. Then a few years later, they moved the action to a train, and it became one of the many forgettable action sequels that fail to live up to the original. It’s been 18 years since Under Siege 2, and just the other day, Seagal was talking about making another sequel. And you know what? I would probably watch it, because even if it still ended up being ridiculously similar to the original with minimal changes, it’s still been 18 years.
It has only been eight months since Olivier Megaton’s Taken 2 hit theaters, however, but you can now start getting used to us talking about a third Taken film with regularity, as Deadline reports Liam Neeson is in negotiations to net the biggest paycheck of his career to reprise his role as the ass-kicking, name-taking retired CIA agent Bryan Mills. Despite previously saying he thought the character’s story was over, his tune apparently changed once Luc Besson and his company EuropaCorp agreed to pay him $20 million to come back for another round. I understand that the timeliness of Neeson’s prominence as an action star is directly tied to his age – he turned 61 this month – but they might as well call it Taken: Cashgrab. The second film’s vague rehashing of Taken’s plot didn’t really expand the movie universe enough to allow for a third film, but its $376 million worldwide gross made that a moot point.
A script is already well into development and is being written by the first two films’ screenwriters, Besson and Robert Mark Kamen, who will undoubtedly be using some sort of Mad Libs script-writing program to figure out all of the big details details while keeping the action-centric kidnapping/revenge plots intact (though wouldn’t it be funny if it turned into a romantic comedy about infidelity, wherein the wife played by Famke Janssen was “taken” in the marital sense? No good?). There’s no word yet on who will be directing, but I’ve no doubt a bigger pay day would bring back Megaton, who also agreed a few months ago that Mills' life didn’t need to be revisited.
The second movie only cost $20 million more than the first and grossed $150 million more, so I’m sure handing out raises is the plan for everyone involved. Next on the agenda would be re-signing Janssen and Maggie Grace, whose character’s surprising emergence was the only real improvement the sequel could boast.
Neeson is one of the busiest headliners in Hollywood these days, working in films of all genres, like the action flick Non-Stop, the western comedy A Million Ways to Die in the West, the romantic dramaThe Third Person and the thriller A Walking Among the Tombstones coming out in the next year or so (not to mention a handful of animated films as well). It isn’t like Neeson would be watering down his talent by doing Taken 3, but I just hope the script is also worth the $20 million they're paying to get him to come back.