Oy vey. Taken 2, or as I like to call it How I Learned To Locate My Enemies Through Grenades Tossed By My Daughter, is nowhere near the substance of the original. This time, it's a laughable family affair. Bring the kids, daddy-o! This sequel is a prime example of cynical moviemaking; going back to the well for no other reason to suck the last dollar from audience members dying to see Liam Neeson kick ass. Save twenty bones, folks. Go rent The Grey. Watch him punch a wolf instead.
Largely disemboweled, Taken 2 a bloodless disappointment. If you’ll remember, even Taken had to wait for its DVD/Blu-ray debut to get some of its white-knuckled and bloody gusto back but this sequel is a shame to its own namesake. And that seems to be by design. With little sense of the tension-filled atmosphere and energy of the original, Taken 2 opens itself up to 13-year-old appreciation in a largely toothless onslaught of ridiculous action beats and routine chases through foreign cities. The challenge for our hero this time out is to keep the audience from laughing themselves silly.
When Lenore (Famke Janssen) and Kim’s (Grace) vacation is cancelled, retired CIA agent Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) invites them to come join him in Istanbul as he works a security gig. But, revenge will be had. The families of the Albanians Mills punished in the first film want their chance to hurt the Mills family. Led by Murad Hoxha (Rade Serbedzija), Chief of the Albanian Mafia, the group is bashed, thrashed, and endlessly spanked into oblivion by Mills and his daughter, Kim, as they attempt to rescue Lenore. Already, with only one adventure under his belt, Mills has become parody.
Directed by Oliver Megaton (Transporter 3 and known for blowing Colombiana out of safe waters with overkill) Taken 2 handles its compromised action scenes without consequence and, as with Colombiana, the big action-oriented scenes - filled with bloodless battles and even bigger explosions - merely serve as moments for the audience to laugh at because there’s no acknowledgement of reality or consequence at all. Megaton can’t even manage to pull a rote chase scene from the chaos and make it somewhat logical. Nah, it’s all Shaky Cams R Us and choppy cuts. Move along, please, nothing original (or inspired) to see here.
Why would you give the weakest link in Taken a larger part in its grossly unnecessary sequel? Yes, I’m talking about Maggie Grace. Don’t get me wrong, I understand the EVERYTHING MUST BE BIGGER rule of sequels but, at some point, bigger simply becomes stupid and, with the ridiculousness of Taken 2 reaching the alpha and the omega within fifteen minutes, there’s no need to pretend. This film hopes to squeeze whatever it can from the fans of the original. Translucently, it operates on pure greed.
As frustrating as the film is, I imagine its producer, Luc Besson, is a bit more frustrated. This film does little to live up to its enjoyment promise. The idea of an ex-CIA agent as an angry father protecting his family has endless possibilities and, when your hero is Neeson, it’s easy to root, root, root for the home team. But, this is a tame movie that fizzles out without purpose and asks too much of its audience.
Never once do we believe Mills is seriously in danger. Neeson coolly handles the jokey baddies without the desperation of the original. He’s on autopilot and none of the damaged charisma he showed in the aforementioned The Grey makes an appearance. Taken 2 is mere outrageous pantomime and that is not a good thing for fans expecting more of the same from the original film. I’m not saying Taken is a classic by any means, but it operates like From Russia with Love compared to the lows of this one. Remember the chills inspired by the original? It’s all ham-fisted with Taken 2 and, unfortunately, nothing feels legitimate.
Prepare to be disappointed by the particular set of skills on display from this superfluous sequel.
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, and some sensuality.
Runtime: 91 mins.
Director: Olivier Megaton
Writer: Luc Besson, Robert Mark Kamen
Cast: Liam Neeson; Maggie Grace; Famke Janssen; Leland Orser; Luke Grimes
Genre: Action | Crime | Thriller
Tagline: First they took his daughter. Now they're coming for him.
Memorable Movie Quote: "If I kill you, your other sons will come and seek revenge?"
Distributor: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
Official Site: www.facebook.com/TakenMovie
Release Date: October 5, 2012
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date: No details available
Synopsis: The family of former government operative Bryan Mills is targeted once again.