Starring: Liam Neeson, Maggie Grace, Famke Janssen
Run-time: 92 minutes
IN SHORT: Taken 2 is a more family-friendly, simplified version of the original that's only worth seeing for Neeson's performance.
Taken 2 has received a lot of criticism and vitriol in the lead-up to its cinema release, mostly from professional critics. On popular film review site, Rotten Tomatoes, it was ranked as low as 8% at one stage. To add perspective, that's lower than Piranha 3DD, which is unarguably the worst 'film' of the year. So anyway, I thought I'd give Taken 2 a fair chance, see if I can put the record straight. Turns out the critics were mostly right...
Taken 2 gets a lot of grief because of its bare-bones script and to be honest, I can't offer any defence. The plot is insultingly stupid. If there was a script, I doubt the actors even needed to read it as the majority of the film is chase scenes, gun-fire and hiding. Neeson returns as Bryan Mills, and whilst vacationing in Istanbul, his wife gets taken. But wait, there's more! In a Shymalan-style twist, he also gets taken and the two find themselves tied up in a dark, decrepit cellar. It's fine though because Bryan has a tiny phone hidden in his sock so he can direct his daughter to their whereabouts, thus saving the day and gaining some valuable driving experience for her upcoming driving test (not kidding).
|It's up to a spoilt, petite airhead to save her father's life... *gulp*.|
In the first film it was hard buying Maggie Grace as a teenager and four years on, it's still not getting any easier. No offense to her, but I can't stand her acting. She's easily the worst part of the franchise and obviously only kept around for her looks. Anyway, whilst tied up and disorientated, Bryan attempts to work out where he is. He does so by remembering his journey in the car - the noises, the smells, the turns in the road. Bryan's psychic abilities are at full capacity in this film as he manages to direct his daughter to him and his wife within half an hour. It's obviously another part of his 'set of skills' he loves to waffle on about.
In Taken, the sex-trafficking underworld, although a very simplistic representation, added some meat to the shallow script. The double-crossing, untrustworthy nature of the French politicians made for an interesting threat for Bryan. In the sequel, the father of one of Bryan's victims is out for revenge so he snatches both Bryan and his wife. When Bryan escapes from his restraints in the cellar, the nameless baddies run off with his wife and he chases after them. That's all there is to the film. Chase scene after chase scene. It starts to grow tiresome, especially with the frenetic shaky camerawork and lack of tension. We all know Bryan is going to save the day, how else would the producer's fund a third installment?
|Neeson's still got what it takes as an action star, he just needs a better script.|
Despite turning 60 this year, Neeson doesn't look awkward kicking ass or squaring up to the hundreds of Albanian villains that pursue him. It's still enjoyable seeing this kind-hearted gentleman take out the trash with a few well-placed bullets and the odd explosive. However, the film shoots itself in the foot by downgrading from a 15 certificate to a 12A. In the original, Bryan did anything that was possible to find his daughter. In one memorable scene, he electrocutes a man to death. Taken 2 doesn't feature this mean streak, it's a straight-up action film where bullets do most of the punishment.
So is there any reason to see Taken 2? I didn't hate it, I just thought it was lazily made and lacking in creativity. Liam Neeson is still a badass but aside from an intense fist-fight at the end, there are no action scenes that stand-out. The sequel is a tame rehash of the first film with a skeletal storyline and one-dimensional bad-guys. Wait for Taken 2 to come out on DVD, it's not worth the expensive cinema ticket.