This is how Bryan Mills knew his location in Taken 2, so lets not discuss that as it's discussed in a previous question.

I want to know if he used exact sciences, did the director hire some scientists, is it a scientific way or is it a Hollywood way?

It seems real, so I want to know if real people/agents can do what Bryan did, can they use time and sound to know their location or is it impossible for real people to do in real life, what Bryan did in the movie.

  • I don't know what the writer/director used in the way of scientists to flesh this portion of the movie out, but will say it is highly plausible that it could happen the way it was portrayed. JMHO, though. Sep 16, 2013 at 10:43
  • @Paulster2 yes because for example, if you have the DVD of Law Abiding Citizen, you can watch the extras where the director explains that they chose Philadelphia because the law there has similar issues like the ones described in the movie, and the director studied many things, for example they used a real robot to kill someone, they got it from the military, so the director in that movie did many research to make it as real and as exciting as it could be
    – Lynob
    Sep 16, 2013 at 13:32
  • 1
    @Fischer Yet I don't see how Law Abiding Citizen is related to Taken 2 in any way.
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Sep 16, 2013 at 15:02
  • @ChristianRau not related, i'm just saying that a director may do research and hire scientists or specialists in some domain to make his movie seem real, i was agreeing with Paulster2 comment
    – Lynob
    Sep 16, 2013 at 16:21

1 Answer 1


I dare say that the director did not actively use a scientist to formulate this trick. I base this on the presence of goofs in the script that a scientist would not have made. However, it is certainly scientific and possible. I expect that the scriptwriters pieced this together based on three things:

  1. Triangulation: This is a pretty common trope used to determine the position of a transmitter, often a mobile phone. However, this is not what Neeson actually uses.

  2. Lightning strikes: There is a rule of thumb which can be used to calculate the distance of lightning strikes from your position based on the delay in the sound of thunder. Neeson's use of grenades is pretty similar although we have to presume that cellphone signals are instantaneous.

  3. Trilateration is the slightly more sophisticated cousin of triangulation and involves intersecting circles (or spheres). It is how GPS works. This is what Neeson uses in combination with the lightning strike trick to approximate distances.

    enter image description here

While the image above show three circles, two are sufficient to get a rough approximation.

For the purposes of a script in an action film, the technique holds water. As to whether it is possible for "real people" to use such techniques, I'd say yes. But it's not a trivial calculation. Given Neeson's military background and the technique's potential for use in the field, it is possible that he would be aware a familiar with it.

How Stuff Works has a page which explains 2-D trilateration in easily digestible form.


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