7 best movies like Taken on Max, Prime Video and Peacock

Best movies on Hulu: Taken
(Image credit: 20th Century Fox)

2009 was a massive year for films. Avatar and Harry Potter cleaned up at the box office, while The Reader, Frost/Nixon and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button earned acclaim. Marvel movies weren’t a thing yet. So, it was possible for an action movie to come out of nowhere to become a worldwide phenomenon. And that’s where Taken comes into play. 

In Taken, former CIA agent Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) learns his daughter Kim (Maggie Grace) has been taken hostage in Europe. Upon receiving the ransom request, Mills tells the kidnappers in no uncertain terms that he will find and kill them unless they release his daughter. What follows is a violent, globetrotting adventure as Mills puts his particular set of skills to use in tracking down his daughter’s abductors. 

Taken was a surprise hit that spawned two sequels and a prequel TV series. It also redefined Liam Neeson’s career, turning an actor previously best known for thoughtful roles like Oskar Schindler into an action star. The Taken franchise appears to be done for now, but there are plenty of excellent movies that both inspired and take inspiration from Taken that you can enjoy across the many available streaming services. 

Die Hard  

Bruce Willis (as John McClane) crawls in a vent in Die Hard, which is arguably a Christmas movie

(Image credit: TCD/Prod.DB / Alamy Stock Photo)

An argument could be made that without Die Hard, there would be no space for films like Taken. A genre-defining classic and star-making role for then-TV star Bruce Willis, Die Hard sees everyman cop John McClane squaring off against an army of German terrorists led by the charismatic Hans Gruber, portrayed by the legendary Alan Rickman in his debut role. Set in the iconic Nakatomi Plaza, McClane is a victim of circumstance but never a superhuman, creating a sense of tension that carries through the film.

Die Hard set a standard for action films, spawning the lucrative “Die-Hard-on-a-X” genre in the ‘90s. It also turned Willis and Rickman into household names. Die Hard spawned a handful of sequels of varying quality, but the original remains easily the best and a must-watch, especially for fans of the tense action of Taken.

Watch on Hulu

John Wick 

Keanu Reeves in John Wick (2014)

(Image credit: Summit Entertainment)

John Wick took the world by storm in 2014 and went on to become a cultural phenomenon. Starring Keanu Reeves, the titular Wick is a hitman who retired to be with his wife. Her passing, a late-night robbery and the death of his dog bring Wick back into the seedy criminal underworld and reignite the assassin’s more violent side. 

On the surface, John Wick may not seem much like Taken, given Wick’s much more direct story about revenge and the past. Still, the character of John Wick has a surprisingly everyman quality with a simmering sinister side that echoes Bryan Mills. Much like Taken, the success of the original John Wick spawned a franchise including a number of sequels. It also is the basis for an upcoming spin-off film, Ballerina, and TV show, The Continental, though Wick himself appears to be done for now following the last entry, John Wick: Chapter 4. 

Rent/buy on Amazon or Apple

The Equalizer

Denzel Washington in The Equalizer

(Image credit: Mary Evans Picture Library Ltd / Alamy Stock Photo)

Denzel Washington stars as Robert McCall, a former Marine now working as a hardware store employee. McCall befriends a teenage prostitute who is kidnapped. McCall puts his military training to work to find and save her. In the process, McCall finds a calling using his skills as a hired protector known as The Equalizer. The film, which reunited Washington with Training Day director Antoine Fuqua, was a surprise hit and reinvigorated the Equalizer franchise, which had been dormant since the ‘80s.

In many ways, The Equalizer feels like a direct response to Taken. The similarities, with both Liam Neeson’s Mills and Washington’s McCall cutting a bloody swath of revenge to protect those closest to them, reflect their cold, tactical nature. The worldwide response to The Equalizer was strong, netting just shy of $200 million worldwide and was generally well-received by fans and critics alike. The film’s success also led to a return for Washington in 2018’s The Equalizer II, the first time in his career he had ever done a sequel to one of his films.

Watch on Starz

Man on Fire

Denzel Washington in Man on Fire

(Image credit: AJ Pics / Alamy Stock Photo)

A decade before he was Robert McCall, Denzel Washington was redefining action thrillers as John Creasy in Man on Fire. A former CIA operative turned bodyguard, Creasy is responsible for protecting a young girl, Pita, who is kidnapped. Creasy must rely on his training and calculated ruthlessness to save her.

Man on Fire, which was directed by Top Gun and Beverly Hills Cop II director Tony Scott, was a sensation when it was released in 2004. Fans praised Washington’s turn in the film and loved the gritty, visceral action throughout the movie. The film caught the eye of many for its use of violence; some critics noted the violence bordered on excessive, although A. J. Quinnell, the author of the novel the film was based on, praised how Washington handled the depiction of Creasy’s more violent moments.

Watch on Max

The Punisher 

Thomas Jane in The Punisher (2003)

(Image credit: PictureLux / The Hollywood Archive / Alamy Stock Photo)

Long before the MCU, Fox and Sony were quietly chipping away at films starring Marvel characters. One such film, The Punisher, was a second attempt at bringing the Marvel anti-hero to the big screen. After a vengeful mobster murders Frank Castle’s family, he dismantles their entire organization in a long, calculated plan for revenge.

The 2004 film wasn’t an immediate hit with fans. While the comics version of the Punisher was known for being quick to kill his foes, Thomas Jane’s take on the character was much more methodical. The film is instead a slow build to a final confrontation, with this iteration of The Punisher instead manipulating nemesis Howard Saint (played by a masterfully scene-chewing John Travolta) into killing his closest allies and dismantling his own organization. Despite the reservations of die-hard fans, the film was a moderate success upon its release, and many still remember it fondly today.

Watch on Peacock

The Transporter

Jason Statham carries Shu Qi on his shoulders in The Transporter

(Image credit: AJ Pics / Alamy Stock Photo)

Frank Martin, better known by his call sign The Transporter, is a mercenary renowned for his work transporting packages for criminals. Martin, a former special ops soldier, breaks one of his own rules when he learns he’s been asked to transport a woman for a human trafficker. Though Frank completes the job, he’s nearly killed by a bomb that was planted with the payment, leading to a tense series of confrontations where Frank puts his special forces training to the test. 

The 2003 action film was a landmark release for Jason Statham, best known then for his appearances in Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch. Despite a middling response, it’s become the foundation of a remarkable franchise thanks to a stellar performance by Statham and gritty action sequences. Though the follow-up sequels and TV show never hit the same heights as the original, The Transporter remains an exciting series for fans of white-knuckle action.

Watch on Prime Video

Air Force One

Best Presidents Day Movies: Air Force One

(Image credit: Sony)

Perhaps the ultimate culmination of the “Die Hard on a ___” trope, Air Force One features the President of the United States aboard an Air Force One that terrorists have hijacked. Marshall, a war veteran, fights back against the terrorists to retake the plane and save his family.

Harrison Ford’s turn as President Marshall feels like a promotional spectacle, but it’s undeniable just how well he meshes with the role. The film’s action, pithy one-liners and the chemistry between Ford and Gary Oldman as terrorist Egor Korshunov resulted in a sensation upon its release in 1997. Even by today’s standards, the film still holds up as an incredible action thriller with some truly spectacular effects for the time. The film was a milestone for 1997 action films, beating out heavy hitters like Men in Black and The Lost World, but its legacy is still somewhat muted by the success of Titanic later that same year.

Watch on Peacock

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Christopher Baggett
Writer (freelance)

Christopher Baggett is a freelance news writer contributing to Tom’s Guide's coverage of the biggest shows on the market today. His work has previously appeared in Comic Book Resources and The Geeked Gods. When he’s not writing, he’s probably playing the latest fighting games on Twitch or spending too much money on comics.