"Taken 2" far too derivative of the original
Courtesy | filmofilia.com
You’d think Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson), the ex-CIA op from 2008’s “Taken,” would have learned to steer clear of Europe by now — especially when his family is involved. If you’re familiar with “Taken,” then you probably know exactly what to expect in “Taken 2.” Sequels can be tricky with movies like this, having the potential to either capitalize on the thrilling precedent set by the first film or descend into blandness. If you’ve seen one car chase, you’ve seen them all — what makes the car chase exciting is what’s at stake in the world of the story.
Screenwriter devised an unrealistic story
After rescuing his daughter Kim (Maggie Grace) from a sex trafficking cartel in France in “Taken,” Bryan Mills has evidently no problem in allowing her and her mother Lenore (Famke Janssen) to drop in on him in Istanbul. Bryan has been working as a private bodyguard for a rich sheik, and is surprised to see his ex-wife and apparently unscarred daughter waiting for him in his hotel lobby. Kim seems to have zero post-trauma from the events in “Taken,” which would make sense for a stronger heroine instead of the giggly, innocent portrayal given by Grace. While Bryan should say “Go back to America as quickly as possible,” he instead indulges his family’s unannounced visit, probably because he and Lenore seem to be rekindling their old flame.
This would make for a great vacation for the Millses if not for a sect of Albanian terrorists hell-bent on exacting vengeance. One of the more endearing twists of “Taken 2” is that it answers the warranted question: “Who are all those dead bad guys?” In “Taken,” Bryan’s kill count was around 35 people, and in the world of action movies these various henchmen are easily forgotten. However, “Taken 2” offers the sobering reminder that these men were brothers, sons, husbands and friends of someone, somewhere. At the beginning of the film there is a mega-funeral for most of the traffickers Bryan offed in his attempt to get Kim back. The chief mourner is a nasty individual named Murad Krasniqi (Rade Serbedzija), whose son was tortured via electrocution and left to die by Bryan in “Taken.” Murad wants revenge, and he has the manpower to achieve it.
Murad tracks Bryan down in Istanbul, conveniently at the same time that Lenore and Kim are visiting. All the eggs are in one basket, and Murad strikes, taking both Bryan and Lenore while they ride around town — but not before Bryan makes a hail Mary cellphone call to Kim at the hotel. He tells her that he and Lenore will be taken and that someone is coming for her too. I always love when the main character says the title of the movie in dramatic fashion — they might as well wink at the camera afterwards, but they never do. There aren’t many spoilers to risk here, but I won’t give away what happens after Bryan’s call to Kim, which is an ironic mimic of the first film in which Kim calls Bryan as she is about to be taken. How the tables have turned.
Fun as an action movie but nothing the critics will rave over
“Taken 2” is as straightforward as its hero, Bryan. While he’s an action star in an action movie, he doesn’t bark witty catch phrases or walk away from explosions in slow motion. The man knows how to kill people, and that’s exactly what he does. Bryan is a well-recognized character, and was so even before this unnecessary extension of the first movie. In “Taken” he showed real acumen in the strategies he used to locate Kim with virtually no trail to follow, while in “Taken 2” he relies mostly on his brute strength to rescue himself, keep Kim safe and save Lenore from Murad’s clutches. He’s a master rescuer when it comes to his family, but not so good at the protecting part.
If one thing could’ve worked for this movie, it was the action sequences. The lack of story would have been bearable if it were made up for by Bryan’s viciously entertaining executions that made the first movie so rousing. But the fight scenes in “Taken 2” were so disheveled and poorly edited that they were almost impossible to watch, much less comprehend. If there was any kind of impressive choreography, the audience missed out due to the rapid cuts and lack of rhyme or reason to the numerous bodies crashing through walls and falling off buildings.
It’s been fun to see Neeson, once known for heavyweight roles like Oskar Schindler and Jean Valjean, settle into an action role like Bryan Mills. While “Taken” was at the least memorable and “Taken 2” a flash-in-the-pan action sequel, the best parts of either were the performances by Neeson as a no-nonsense protagonist who uses his skills to do what he has to. The violence is not necessarily glorified in either of the “Takens,” but you can’t help but get a little pumped up watching this 60-year-old man waste some baddies with great precision and grit. Other than that aspect, “Taken 2” has very little to offer and even less to contribute to a possible trilogy — I mean, who else is there to be taken at this point?