Having not learned to not anger Liam Neeson the last time he went medieval on them, some evil foreigners are at it again, with predictable results, in Taken 2. Like how Die Hard 2 just capably did Die Hard in an airport, Taken 2 is essentially Taken in Turkey; and not capably done.
In Istanbul, Ex-CIA operative Bryan Mills (Neeson) receives a visit from his daughter, Kim (Maggie Grace), and ex-wife, Lenore (Famke Janssen). Relatives of the men Bryan killed, rescuing Kim a year ago, seek revenge and abduct Bryan and Lenore.
Little is new or different with Taken 2’s story. The beginning’s character reintroductions are overly long, so these badly written scenes take up way too much time in quite a short film, leaving you impatient for someone to get taken already. In action films, you don’t tend to see the effect of the numerous killings, whereas Bryan’s slaughter-fest in Taken is actually the reason the new villains are after him. Also it does reverse the whole kidnapped daughter aspect of Taken by having her escape, and help her dad. Though not for long and soon he’s back to doing what he does best. The ending is another problem. It doesn’t find a way to satisfyingly bring closure to the matter, and then reverts to more terrible dialogue that would fit in the beginning.
Taken was silly but it is a decent nuts and bolts thriller, that got surprisingly popular. Taken 2 just cynically retreads familiar ground, without replicating what was good about Taken. It still has plenty of violence, with gun and fistfights galore, unfortunately it’s not as visceral as before. There were cuts made to get a 12A rating (lower than Taken), probably so more people would pay to see it, in Taken people were tortured to death, in Taken 2 people slowly bleed with there faces covered, then survive. Action films don’t have to be explicit, however this sequel’s brawls never seem painful enough and merely get tiresome after a while. The action sequences overdo the cutting fast and shaky cam thing, making them hard to follow. It’s still enjoyable to behold Neeson’s superspy powers, even if that’s because they lead to unintentional comedy. The undoubted high/lowlight being when, from down the phone, he works out where he is by making his daughter carefully use a shoestring whilst throwing grenades out a window, without any repercussions.
Seeing Neeson do the badass retired CIA operative routine, through a picturesque Istanbul, has its moments; but Taken 2 was made too lazily and cynically to have the tension and excitement it sorely needs. It’d be preferable, cheaper and a whole lot more fun to simply get Taken on DVD.
- Jon Bartholomew