Whenever the new year roles around, you can expect three kinds of movies like clockwork - lousy horror flick, romantic comedies and an action movie where Liam Neeson plays a gruff, middle-aged hero with a heart of gold. "Taken" started that particular trend, and here's how we rank every single "Taken" clone that's followed.
8. 'Taken 3' (2015)
How many times can European gangsters kidnap a guys family before we just stop caring? Apparently the answer is three. This sequel accomplished little beyond Neeson's Bryan Mills needed to retire for good. The PG-13 rating certainly didn't help matters.
7. 'Taken 2' (2012)
The original 'Taken" had a real novelty to it that's completely absent in its sequels. "Taken 2" replicates the formula of the first well enough; it simply does nothing to improve upon that formula.
6. 'The A-Team' (2010)
Neeson's first big action movie role post-"Taken" was starring as Hannibal Smith in this big-budget remake of the classic '80s TV series. The result wasn't exactly high art, but "The A-Team" did offer plenty of good, dumb fun. Which, honestly, makes it pretty faithful to the source material.
5. 'Run All Night' (2015)
We can get behind any movie where Neeson plays an Irish mob enforcer nicknamed "The Gravedigger." Neeson stars opposite Joel Kinnaman as an estranged father/son duo on the run from vengeful mobsters. The film sticks very closely to that "Taken" formula, but uses it to good effect.
4. 'The Commuter' (2018)
"The Commuter" may as well be considered a spiritual sequel to 2014's "Non-Stop." Swap out the airplane setting for a commuter train instead and you basically know what to expect here. Neeson is his usual endearing self as a random insurance salesman dragged into a massive conspiracy and forced to hunt down a train passenger while the clock ticks.
3. 'Non-Stop' (2014)
Not since "Air Force One" have we had so much fun watching a middle-aged action star battle foes inside a plane. "Non-Stop" gets increasingly ridiculous as it goes along, which makes the cool, steady presence of its star all the more critical.
2. 'A Walk Among the Tombstones' (2014)
This crime thriller casts Neeson as an ex-NYPD detective who decides to help a drug trafficker (Dan Stevens) hunt down the people who murdered his wife. This is another case where a Neeson action movie doesn't stray far from the "Taken" formula. But in this case, the unusually smart script helps it rise above those familiar trappings.
1. 'The Grey' (2012)
"Taken" is great and all, but only one action movie features Liam Neeson crafting a makeshift set of brass knuckles so he can punch a wolf to death. "The Grey" is a gripping survival drama with just enough over-the-top Neeson elements to give it some added flavor. And Neeson himself has rarely been more compelling than playing a man with nothing to lose and everything to prove against the unforgiving wilderness.