After a bit of back and forth where it briefly looked as if he'd withdraw and be replaced, Liam Neeson has all but signed on the line for Taken 2.
The sequel has been in the works ever since Taken's jingoistic ass-whippings became a surprise mega-hit, ultimately raking in north of $200m from a budget of $25m.
Neeson, who's been working flat-out recently, had planned to take the rest of 2011 off after completing Wrath of the Titans, which didn't chime with producer Luc Besson's desire to get Taken 2 underway as soon as possible. Names in Besson's hat as possible Neeson replacements apparently included Sean Bean, Mickey Rourke, Ralph Fiennes, Ray Winstone and Jason Isaacs. But it's academic now, since Besson and Neeson have thrashed out a deal that should see production start at the end of the year or in early 2012.
Besson has once again written the screenplay in cahoots with Robert Mark Kamen, and Deadline reports that Olivier Megaton, who directed Transporter 3 for Besson, is in line for megaphone duties, replacing the original's Pierre Morel.
There's no word yet on the reason for the mayhem this time around, but feel free to speculate in the comments below...