- Title: Taken 2
- IMDB: link
Directed by Pierre Morel and written by Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen, 2008’s Taken starred Liam Neeson as retired CIA Agent Bryan Mills – a man forced to use his “particular set of skills” to rescue his daughter Kim (Maggie Grace) who was abducted by an Albanian human trafficking ring while vacationing in Paris. Over the course of the film Mills racked up an impressive amount of property damage while assaulting, torturing, and killing dozens of people including shooting the wife of a French police officer (Olivier Rabourdin), and close friend, in front of him.
Taken 2 returns Neeson, Grace, and Famke Janssen (as Mills’ ex-wife), who take a family vacation in Istanbul only to find their past finally catch up with them. Mills and his family are hunted by members (who may, or may not, have ties to the trafficking ring) of the families of the men he killed in the first movie. When Mills and his ex-wife are taken the super bad-ass senior citizen will have to rely on the help of his daughter to wreck another city, rack up a hefty body count, and save both himself and her mother.
Taken a was ridiculous but well-paced action thriller with sloppy quick-cut shaky-cam action sequences and a complete disregard consequences of a character’s increasingly brutal behavior. The sequel is much the same, but less focused and (if possible) even dumber that the first film. Although Mills is forced to face the fallout of his actions from the first movie, once again none of his, or his daughter’s, actions over the course of this film (which include throwing grenades all over Istanbul and barreling through a U.S. Embassy checkpoint after wrecking half the city in a stolen taxi cab) have any consequences whatsoever.
Far more uneven than the first film, Taken 2 is a mess that tries to mix insipid family comedy and drama with tense action scenes and, in one scene, with what borders on torture porn. It doesn’t help that we’re forced to suffer through a prolonged (not to mentioned incredibly awkward) family prologue, involving Kim hiding her new boyfriend (Luke Grimes) from her father and struggling to pass her driving test, that may very well put most of the audience to sleep long before the action starts. The story doesn’t really get any better once the bodies start hitting the floor, but at least the film makes an attempt to engage the audience through the suspense of Mills’ actions.
The film has two things going for it. First, it does a good job, even in the film’s most ridiculous scenes, in creating a constant tension and pace once the action kicks in. And secondly, in the only way it is an improvement over the original, Taken 2 allows the first film’s victim (Grace) to do more than simply cower under a bed, get kidnapped, and wait to be rescued. As ridiculous as Grace’s scenes are, and they are absurdly implausible, at least this time around Kim is actively helping to save herself and her family.
Much like the original, the movie’s villains are various nameless thugs who are nothing more than fodder and challenges for Neeson to work his way through. This time around they are led by Rade Serbedzija who you’ve seen in several films doing different variations of this same thankless role. The first film might not have been great, but at least it was somewhat entertaining (in a dumb late 80’s action movie kind of way). If Taken belonged in a double-feature with something like Hard to Kill, Double Impact, or Road House, the sequel belongs near the bottom of the barrel with those same action stars’ later direct-to-DVD projects.