20th Century Fox and Luc Besson's EuropaCorp production company, which were partners on 2008's Taken and last year's Taken 2, is ready to make the Ballymena-born actor a member of the select $20m-a-movie club. Neeson, 61, plays an ex-CIA operative in the series, which sees him taking bloody revenge a variety of thugs keen to mess with his family.
Having secured Neeson's services – the actor was reportedly wary of returning for a second Taken – Fox and EuropaCorp will now turn their attentions to his co-stars Maggie Grace and Famke Janssen. Grace plays Mills's daughter, while Janssen is his ex-wife – the pair having reconciled in part two. Olivier Megaton, who directed Taken 2, is unlikely to be back, according to Deadline. However, a screenplay by Besson and Robert Mark Kamen, who wrote the first two films, is complete for part three and production is expected to begin in February 2014.
The first Taken movie made Neeson a surprise action hero in his mid-50s, and the $20m (£13m) payday for part three suggests he has lost none of his currency in Hollywood. To date, the Taken movies have cost a total of $60m, yet returned more than 10 times that amount at the box office globally. Taken received a one star review from the Guardian's Xan Brooks, who called it a "dubious, morally bankrupt movie". Taken 2 fared better with Peter Bradshaw. He described the sequel as "tamer, [but] just as ridiculous" in his two star review.
This article originally appeared on guardian.co.uk