Review: Taken 2

Directed by: Olivier Megaton.

Starring: Liam Neeson, Maggie Grace, Famke Janssen, Rade Serbedzija, Leland Orser.

Rating:   Running Time: 91 mins.

Liam Neeson returns as ex-CIA operative Bryan Mills, who rescued his daughter Kim (Maggie Grace) when she was kidnapped by human traffickers previously on a trip to France. In the town of Tropojë, the men who he killed while searching for Kim are being laid to rest by their families, and Murad Krasniqi (Rade Šerbedžija), the father of one of the men vows that they will have their revenge on Mills. Meanwhile, back in Los Angeles, Bryan has been teaching Kim to drive but on arriving to pick her up, is surprised to learn from his ex-wife Lenore (Famke Jannsen) that Kim has a boyfriend and is currently out with him.

Bryan also learns that Lenore and her husband are having relationship issues, and after her husband cancels their planned vacation to China, suggests she and Kim visit Istanbul with him after he’s finished a security job that he’ll be doing there. After a few days, once his job is finished, Bryan is surprised when Lenore and Kim turn up unannounced, and he heads out to lunch with Lenore while Kim decides to take advantage of the hotel pool. When he notices that they’re being followed, Bryan sends Lenore to the hotel and attempts to lead the men away, but Lenore is captured, forcing Bryan to surrender himself, but not before calling Kim and instructing her that he and Lenore are going to be taken, and what she can do to help them.

Like many, I didn’t see the first Taken movie until it was released on DVD/Blu Ray. Though I had heard good word of mouth about it beforehand, and was not disappointed when I finally did get to see it. Liam Neeson played the driven father extremely well, showing worry but being controlled enough to use the skills that he had to get back that which was most precious to him, and the movie was fairly well written and directed, standing out above the average ‘produced by Luc Besson’ movie.

Unfortunately, the second movie is a let down, with it’s rushed storyline (obviously as a result of the movie being edited down by the production company to get a 12A rating – the first movie was a 15 in the cinema and an 18 on DVD/Blu Ray). While the first movie was directed solidly and paced well by Pierree Morel with a script and story that actually had something to tell, this movie has been put together purely to cash in on the success of the first.

Director Oliver Megaton, who previously directed b-grade action movies such as Transporter 3 and Columbiana (incidentally, both Luc Besson productions), does a competent job of directing this as an action movie, which would be fine except that the first movie isn’t an action movie, it’s more of a thriller with action elements, and that is exactly how Taken 2 should have been handled.

It’s not all bad, Neeson is as threatening and as competent as in the first movie, and Famke Jannsen gets slightly more to do with her role this time around. Maggie Grace gets to do a lot more and appear a much stronger character as a result of the events in the first movie, but unfortunately once she gets some time to shine, the writers have her drop out of the movie because they can’t think of anything better for her to do.

It’s a nice reversal in the circumstances for Neeson’s and Grace’s characters that does manage to stop it feeling like a complete re-hash of the first movie, but it’s not enough to save it from being flippant, repetitive, and at times, boring, as well as increasingly frustrating. There are moments when characters, both good and bad, do things so out of place that you’re literally a hair’s breadth away from screaming at the screen for them to go back or do something else – it’s that bad, at times the characterisation is like watching a big breasted blonde bimbo run up the stairs in a horror movie when you know she should be running out the front door.

Oliver Megaton has said that an uncut version of the movie is planned for the DVD/Blu Ray release of the movie, anyone who is a strong fan of the original and is hoping for something of the same calibre should wait for that, at least you’ll get something closer to the tone of the original. Cash in by committee – rushed writing, quick editing, and a focus on action. Still, it could be worse, it could have been directed by Michael Bay.

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Posted on October 9, 2012, in Reviews and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Your review is pretty much what I expected from this film. I might rent this when it comes to video, but I won’t be seeing it in a theater.

    Side note: Does director Oliver Megaton have the coolest name or what?

  2. This is a pretty obvious example of a sequel that’s only going for the pockets of the audience, but at least there’s still some dumb, idiotic fun to it for the time it’s on-screen. However, I do think that Neeson is getting a bit too old for these roles even though he just started it all up. Nice review.

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