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Welcome back to Tune In: our weekly newsletter, offering a guide to the best of the week’s TV.
Each week, Variety’s TV team combs through the week’s TV schedule, selecting our picks of what to watch and when/how to watch it. This week, midseason premieres take over the broadcast networks with a slew of new series, plus E!’s second scripted show and Ryan Murphy’s latest FX project debut.
“When We Rise,” ABC, Monday, 9 p.m.
Kudos to ABC for bringing this long-overdue story to broadcast television — the four-part, eight-hour series from “Milk” Oscar winner Dustin Lance Black is about the gay rights movement. But, Variety‘s critic Sonia Soraiya has mixed feelings, writing, “The mere existence of ‘When We Rise’ is almost virtue enough. But in terms of tone and execution, the four-part event series from ABC is wildly uneven…” (Read Soraiya’s full review here.)
- Elizabeth Wagmeister
Bryan Mills might be one of the world’s most (in)famous dads — in the 2008 action movie Taken, Liam Neeson played the covert operative who embarks on a skull-cracking spree across Paris to reclaim his teen daughter from Albanian sex traffickers. Now Clive Standen, who’s best-known for fives seasons as Vikings‘ Rollo, is stepping into Neeson’s shoes as a younger version of Mills.
Fans of Taken will recall Neeson kick-starting his three-movie European killing spree with a growled monologue declaring his “very particular set of skills,” and Standen points how the singular motivation of that moment will drive »
- Lanford Beard
Four episodes were provided prior to broadcast.
In 2008’s minor classic Taken, Liam Neeson’s former covert operative Bryan Mills famously informs his daughter’s kidnappers “I don’t have money, but what I do have are a very particular set of skills. Skills I have acquired over a very long career.” Enter NBC’s Taken, in which we find out how Mills acquired said skills and what his mysterious career involved.
There’s just one glaring problem with all this. Taken (the movie) takes place in the late 2000s. Taken (the TV show) should take place in the late 70s then, but in fact takes place now. It doesn’t try to fuzz the setting, either, this is a tech thriller about hacked iPhones and stolen laptops.
About five minutes into the first episode I paused it to double-check I’d understood what this was about. But nope, the official series description says, »
- David James
NBC's new take on Taken is finally here.
Vikings' Clive Standen stars as Bryan Mills - aka young Liam Neeson - a former Green Beret who must cope with a great personal tragedy while simultaneously adjusting to his new job as a CIA operative. But that's only the half of it! Whether you're a fan of the
Read More > »
- Sadie Gennis
The movie-adaptation train rolls on.
When it rolls to a stop this time, Taken takes off. That's right, this prequel starring Clive Standen looks at young Bryan Mills, a handsome Green Beret whose life takes a tragic turn when his sister is killed because of his past military activities.
Bryan will, in roughly 30 years, become the tired CIA agent played by Liam Neeson in three well-received action thrillers.
For now, the idea behind the series is how Bryan gained the skills displayed in the films as a recruit in a secret covert-ops squad headed by Jennifer Beals' Christina.
Taken premieres Monday, February 27 at 10/9c on NBC.
1. Silbings on a Train - Taken Season 1 Episode 1 Bryan Mills and his sister Cali are taking a train ride home to surprise their parents. But this happy moment won't last. 2. Overcome With Grief - Taken Season 1 Episode 1 Bryan pauses by his sister Cali's coffin, »
- Dale McGarrigle
“Taken” star Clive Standen says there’s only one thing that separates his character from the one Liam Neeson originated in the film series — competence. “It’s really a modern-day origin story,” Standen said in an interview with TheWrap’s Stuart Brazell. “He doesn’t have yet, so he’s tripping and falling. But he has this forward momentum. He has something you can’t train.” The protective streak shown in Neeson’s character throughout Luc Besson’s film trilogy will be brought to the NBC series when it premieres on Feb. 27, Standen says. “This guy has this one thing, »
- Reid Nakamura
From the moment Pierre Morel’s Taken unlocked a very particular set of skills in Liam Neeson, the actor’s résumé has been a roller-coaster ride of triumphant highs (The Grey) and disappointing lows (Takens 2 and 3). But a patchy record has in no way cooled Neeson’s interest in the action genre, as he’ll soon be back, back, back, as an unassuming insurance salesman for The Commuter.
Pitched as North by Northwest meets Strangers on a Train, Jaume Collet-Serra’s high-speed thriller was originally slated for a release in October, but we now have confirmation that The Commuter‘s journey won’t begin in earnest until January 12th, 2018. That’s a date it currently shares with Paramount’s animated flick Sherlock Gnomes, White Boy Rick and The Maze Runner: The Death Cure, which was hit with a delay of its own following Dylan O’Brien’s serious set accident. »
- Michael Briers
The most relevant question to ask of the TV reboot of “Taken” just might be: Will the valet guys like it?
In the cult of Liam Neeson, no film has higher standing than “Taken,” in which a good deal of the plot is described by the title of the film. In one of the most famous sketches from “Key & Peele,” two employees at a valet stand compete to determine which of them has a more fanatical loyalty to all things Neeson. Anyone who’s ever found themselves relishing the actor’s recent action pics (despite plot holes and other slapdash elements) can likely understand their devotion.
In NBC’s “Taken,” Clive Standen (“Vikings”) stars as the lead character from the film — but his version of Bryan Mills is 30 years younger than the grizzled operative played by Neeson. Still, there are a great many kidnappings in this take on the movie, and »
- Maureen Ryan
The pointlessness of TV shows mining brand names reaches something of a nadir with NBC's Taken, which manages simultaneously to deliver nothing relating to the hit Liam Neeson movie franchise, while also becoming a completely different show after its Feb. 27 premiere episode. It's a rare double bait-and-switch that certainly doesn't benefit the average and forgettable show that Taken subsequently becomes
To get this out of the way up front: Taken is not a very good movie. It's a brutally efficient delivery mechanism for Neeson to growl and kill an astounding number of foreign nationals in only 90 minutes. The »
- Daniel Fienberg
Stars: Keanu Reeves, Riccardo Scamarcio, Ian McShane, Ruby Rose, Common, Claudia Gerini, Lance Reddick, Laurence Fishburne, Tobias Segal, John Leguizamo | Written by Derek Kolstad | Directed by Chad Stahelski
2014′s John Wick took pretty much everyone by surprise. The third in a trilogy of action movies Keanu Reeves made in 2013/4, John Wick succeeded where 47 Ronin and The Man of Tai Chi (in which Reeves played the villain) didn’t. And that’s not to say that either of those films were sub-par, far from it. However there was something about the stoic, unstoppable hitman John Wick that resonated with audiences across the globe. And so three years later we finally get a sequel.
From the same writer/director team as the first film, Derek Kolstad and Chad Stahelski respectively, John Wick Chapter 2 picks up where the first film left off. Literally. John heads back to the gang who stole his car »
- Phil Wheat
The former Lost actress took to Instagram to post a loving photo of herself and her fiancé in a canoe, writing, “The strongest and sweetest songs yet remain to be sung (Whitman).”
Grace, 33, also posted a photo of Bushnell in January at the Women’s March in Los Angeles with the caption, “What A Man #StrongMenSupportStrong.”
Bushnell is the founder of an engineering entertainment company called Two Bit Circus.
- Alexia Fernandez
John Wick: Chapter 2 turns a familiar page in Keanu Reeves’ cartoonish assassin franchise. Back are the stylized “Gun Fu” battles, lavish locales and adorable dogs (who are safe this time), like some Mmo violence-fetish video game. Pacifists be warned – infinite henchmen feed John Wick’s cold, calculated bodycount. Those of you growing tired of head-exploding finishers will find little value in this savage, blood-soaked sequel. Thugs simply line-up to be blasted by Wick’s deadshot aim. The titular hitman appears invincible as he endures stab wounds and gunshot impacts, displaying little vested interest in portraying death for what it is – but goddamn if Chapter 2 isn’t more gorgeous body-snapping brutality.
Did you really think I was about to go soft, there? Not today, people. John Wick: Chapter 2 revs a supercharged engine that runs on gunpowder and Reeves’ marble-etched intensity. Showmanship overplays the lack of honor among killers, with »
- Matt Donato
Ever since Liam Neeson fought through a long line of bad guys to get his daughter back in Taken, he’s starred in more than enough action thrillers where he’s out for revenge or trying to save someone he loves. We thought we may have finally seen the last of them with Taken 3 in 2014 […]
The post Liam Neeson Will Be Out for Revenge in the Rockies in ‘Hard Powder’ appeared first on /Film. »
- Ethan Anderton
Last month, just before the holiday season, it was reported that director Denis Villeneuve, who is coming off the critically-acclaimed Arrival and is in post-production on Blade Runner 2049, is in talks to direct the Dune remake for Legendary Pictures. Today we have confirmation from Brian Herbert, author and the son of late Dune author Frank Herbert, that the filmmaker has officially signed on to direct this remake. Here's what Brian Herbert had to say on social media.
We reported in November that Legendary Pictures has picked up the film and TV rights for Dune, and with Brian Herbert describing this as the "Dune series film project", it seems that Denis Villeneuve is developing both the movie and TV series as well. Brian Herbert wouldn't elaborate further in his Twitter statement, »
Author: Jon Lyus
Founder of the modern Mature Assassins Guild (or the Old Age Punishers) Liam Neeson is taking on another hard-edged action film. Hard Powder is directed by Hans Petter Moland and written by Frank Baldwin and will go into production in March, according to the report from Variety.
The go on to report the synopsis, which sounds a touch familiar.
Neeson plays ‘ Nels, an upright snowplow driver, awarded a Citizen of the Year prize by his glitzy Colorado ski town, whose life is turned upside down when his son is murdered by a powerful local drug kingpin.
Fueled by an unwavering drive for vengeance and armed with heavy machinery, this unlikely hero sets out to dismantle the cartel with extreme prejudice, and he’s not stopping until he gets to the top of the food chain,” “Hard Powder’s” synopsis reads.
Nels’ vengeance sparks a turf war between »
- Jon Lyus
It has been revealed that Liam Neeson will be getting his ass kicking shoes back on as he is set to star in action revenge thriller Hard Powder.
Set in the Rocky Mountains, Hard Powder will see Neeson playing a father whose son is murdered by a Colorado drug kingpin.
It sounds like pretty familiar territory for the Taken star but these details, and seeing Neeson in his element, will be sure to excite his many fans.
Directed by Hans Petter Moland, Hard Powder will go into production this March.
As revealed by Variety, the synopsis for the flick is detailed below.
Fueled by an unwavering drive for vengeance and armed with heavy machinery, this unlikely hero sets out to dismantle the cartel with extreme prejudice, and he’s not stopping until he gets to the top of the food chain.
Keep an eye on Flickering Myth for more details regarding Hard Powder. »
- Samuel Brace
Simon Brew Feb 1, 2017
Another bad guy has got on the wrong side of Liam Neeson. We all know what happens next...
The last time we saw Liam Neeson in a remote, frosty climate, the end result was the underrated The Grey. Now, the king of the modern revenge thriller is heading back into snowy climes for his next project, Hard Powder.
This one is set in the Rocky Mountains, and sees Neeson playing a snow plough driver in a skiing time. One day, though, a local drug kingpin murders his son, clearly having not watched the Taken trilogy. You don’t need us to tell you that violence and revenge will follow, involving in this case a mafia boss, and a vegan gangster. We don’t make this stuff up.
There was a time when you could count on action movies to have cheeky, playfully-on-the-nose titles. Jean-Claude Van Damme, in particular, was the king in this arena, with classics - yes, classics! - like Sudden Death (terrorists take over a hockey rink during the Stanley Cup finals), Double Impact (where Jcvd plays his own twin brother), and Timecop (about a time traveling police officer). But these days action movies have forgotten how to have fun with their titles. Everything is either a character's name (John Wick, Jack Reacher, Jason Bourne) or a generic noun (The Accountant, Criminal, The Gunman). But one actor is still keeping their self-aware action movie title game strong. We are of course talking about Liam Neeson. Sure, Taken 1-3 may be generic, but...
- Peter Hall
Liam Neeson continues to star in movies that would normally be direct-to-dvd trash if it weren't for his charisma and commitment to finding a soul and dimensionality within stock, one-dimensional archetypes. It's why Taken and so many of his other projects work, when they by all accounts shouldn't. His next one is called Hard Powder, and instead of being a reference to cocaine... Read More »
- Damion Damaske
Paris – Liam Neeson, European group Studiocanal and producer Michael Shamberg are teaming for “Hard Powder,” a Rocky Mountains-set action revenge thriller that is likely to prove a hot ticket at next month’s Berlin Film Festival market.
It stars Neeson as Nels, an upright snowplow driver, awarded a Citizen of the Year prize by his glitzy Colorado ski town, whose life is turned upside down when his son is murdered by a powerful local drug kingpin.
“Fueled by an unwavering drive for vengeance and armed with heavy machinery, this unlikely hero sets out to dismantle the cartel with extreme prejudice, and he’s not stopping until he gets to the top of the food chain,” “Hard Powder’s” synopsis reads.
Nels’ vengeance »
- John Hopewell and Elsa Keslassy
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