Resurrecting the vigilante: paternal sovereignty, exceptionality and familial security in Taken (2008) and Taken 2 (2013)

Klaus Dodds, Philip Kirby

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The films, Taken (2008) and Taken 2 (2013), are considered to reflect upon how the vigilante has enjoyed a return to popular cultural prevalence within the post-9/11 geopolitical context. While a great deal of popular geopolitics and popular culture literature addresses war, science fiction and the superhero genre, the vigilante genre deserves further consideration precisely because the stories associated with it so often involve ordinary characters in extraordinary situations, making them perhaps espe- cially accessible to audiences. Vigilante movies, as we explain, were popular in the early to mid-1970s and have been regarded as a cultural–political response to the trauma of Vietnam and the conflicted memories of war and loss that this precipitated. Strikingly, in the aftermath of another trauma, the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington, DC, we have witnessed a resurgence of vigilante movies involving ordinary citizens (e.g. The Brave One in 2007), many of whom are retired soldiers (e.g. Harry Brown in 2009 and Gran Torino in 2008). It is just such a character, Bryan Mills, an ex-CIA operative, who is the hero of the Taken films, and Mills is used here as a point of departure for exploring paternal sovereignty, exceptionality and familial security in the post-9/11 world.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)245-261
Number of pages19
JournalCritical Studies on Security
Early online date18 Jun 2014
Publication statusPublished - 18 Jun 2014


  • Geopolitics
  • Security
  • Vigilante
  • Film
  • Popular culture

Cite this