Back in 2007 when composer Nathaniel Méchaly and I first read the script of the then-upcoming Liam Neeson action film TAKEN, I don't think any of us realised at the time the adventure that lay ahead. I had already been working with Nathaniel for a number of years by that point, including on several earlier productions by Luc Besson. So I was thrilled to come on board for this exciting dark horse of an action movie as Nathaniel's assistant composer and synth programmer.
With its now-infamous phone call scene and Liam's speech about his "special set of skills", the original TAKEN film (directed by PIERRE MOREL) went on to become an enormous popular success worldwide, batting far out of its league at the box office. It also singlehandedly re-baptised Liam Neeson, launching an impressive second act career, while simultaneously creating a new, mature father-figure action hero archetype never seen before in films of this genre.
The score of TAKEN was widely praised and earned Nathaniel a BMI award in both the USA & the UK. I was very proud to have contributed in a small way to this success, but was even more appreciative of the massive learning curve it vectored me through in a short but intense space of time. In comparison to the scale of films I'd worked on up till then, doing TAKEN was like being punched through the sound barrier.
Given the unexpected runaway hit this film became and the box office records it broke for its category, we knew pretty quickly that this adventure was only just beginning.
Over the subsequent two sequels to the franchise, both directed by OLIVIER MEGATON, my role in collaboration with Nathaniel on the music evolved and expanded. By TAKEN 3, which we completed at the end of 2014, I became score co-producer with Nathaniel in addition to my previous role as synth programmer. I was also delighted to develop new arrangements of signature themes from the original TAKEN score, along with co-writing the music for certain scenes in the film. You can hear some of this work here.
To date, the TAKEN franchise has been one of the most commercially successful international releases from Luc Besson's partnership between EUROPACORP & FOX. Each film in the franchise has reached number one in the US box office, likewise in the box offices in a host of other countries around the world. Nathaniel went on to receive BMI awards again for TAKEN 2, and the score of TAKEN 3 has been popular with critics, with some reviewers generously humbling us by drawing comparisons to the work of one of my favourite film composers of all time, Jerry Goldsmith.
For me, I look back on my involvement in the TAKEN franchise as a rare and lucky opportunity to experience ambitious Hollywood action score-making on a large scale, replete with invaluable lessons you can't get anywhere else. It also represents a satisfying consolidation of the years of collaboration between Nathaniel and myself, and I'm proud to have played my part in helping him realise this "triptych" in the canon of modern action cinema score.