'Taken' by Dubai, Liam Neeson eager to film 'thriller' here
There's something to be said about watching a 62-year-old man leapfrog his way up cliffs, sewage ducts and elevator shafts, right after he's indulged in a bout of fisticuffs with an army of henchmen without breaking into a sweat.
Hollywood's eternal action men, namely Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis and even Arnold Schwarzenegger, have transformed their exploits into a multimillion-dollar box office enterprise.
Perhaps the only other contender to match their skillset, and their flailing wrists, is Liam Neeson.
The actor, who was in Dubai for the Middle East premiere of third instalment of the 'Taken' franchise, also showed eagerness to bring the Hollywood action to these shores for a film shoot.
Speaking at a media event at the One&Only Royal Mirage, the Irish actor, said: "'Taken 3' is about the fans. For their continued support of the film franchise, which also instigated us to host a Middle East premiere in Dubai, open to the public."
This being Neeson's first visit to the city, the actor was all praises for his visit, saying: "Flying over Dubai, the detailing is amazing. It says a lot about human development and what heights it can reach."
Talking about Dubai's efforts to ground itself as a Hollywood hotspot for filming in the region, Neeson added: "I may not have heard Dubai is the new Hollywood, but I have heard such wonderful things about people who have visited here in the past for shooting, or even attending the film festival here.
"In fact, I would love to get an invite for the film festival. I think city makes for a cool thriller to be filmed here."
Does that mean a 'Taken 4' could very find the Burj Khalifa taking centre stage?
Laughing, Neeson revealed: "I feel we have reached the end of the series. But you can never say never. Maybe not a 'Taken 4' but perhaps a five or six."
He continued: "I was never very keen on shooting a second 'Taken'. But I’m not a writer. But when Luc Besson got a good solid storyline, I said yes. And now here we are with a third; I think Besson has finished the series with a good storyline."
Neeson, who shot extensively for ‘Taken 2’ in Istanbul, was quoted in the international press as saying the daily call to prayer while filming there would 'lift his spirits' and even had him consider converting to Islam.
Probing further the actor stated: "I am not converting to Islam. But I must say this, after the first few days of shooting in Istanbul, I looked forward to hearing the call to prayer. It was so soothing for the soul."
For fans of the series, his on-screen daughter is not taken this time around, which Neeson earlier stated would be just plain bad parenting on his part.
After being wrongfully framed for murder, the 62-year-old former CIA agent burns his way through car parks, planes and automobiles while doing what he does best – protect his daughter Kim (Maggie Grace).
Talking further about reprising his role as Bryan Mills, Neeson talked about the transition of his character across the three films, saying: "I don’t think Bryan has evolved. He’s there to protect his daughter. Because I love Maggie Grace, it’s not a big leap of fantasy to see myself fight for her.
"I remember seeing her screen test before we shot the first film and I said to myself, I want to be her father."
Asked what he hopes his fans will take from his latest action venture, Neeson said: "At the end of the day, all you want is your fans to sit back and enjoy the ride."
(All pics: Bindu Rai)
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