Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
Genre: Action, Thriller
Run Time: 1 hour 32 minutes, Rated PG-13
Starring: Liam Neeson, Maggie Grace, Famke Janssen
Directed by Olivier Megaton (Colombiana, Transporter 3)
Bryan Mills - like pretty much every other action super hero - just can’t catch a break.
In Taken – the 2008 hit starring Liam Neeson – Mills was a retired CIA agent whose daughter (Maggie Grace) is kidnapped while in Paris, forcing him into action to find her. She was being held captive by an Albanian mob who had nabbed her as part of a prostitution ring. As these kinds of movies go, Mills kicked butt and took names, totally annihilating the band of thugs while finally proving he was a good dad by saving his only daughter.
While this first film wasn’t perfect – are there no consequences for ransacking a city and killing masses of people? – it was an exciting action film that did what action movies are supposed to do: entertain. Unfortunately for Taken 2, this important ingredient is missing. Logic, however, was never present in either film.
Taken 2 flash-forwards a bit and it’s almost like the events of the first film never happened when we look at Bryan Mills and his daughter Kim. In a smart twist, we then see Albanian fathers and mothers, grieving over those who were killed in the first film. Give this plot some credit – when have there ever been feelings attached to the mass of bad guys who get killed off on screen? These guys are obviously not happy, and they vow to enact revenge on the man who did this to their loved ones.
Mills isn’t the only one who can track someone down on short notice, and the Albanians quickly find out that he will be in Istanbul. Surprise! His daughter and estranged wife (Famke Janssen, who is now conveniently separated from her new husband) show up on vacation with him. When the bad guys show up, there is a clever role reversal from the first film, when this time around Kim must try to free her captive parents.
And that’s when things derail. From here, we are given a mindless action film that is not nearly as fun as the first one. The scenes are messier, shakier, and there is such little attention given to plausibility that it is almost laughable. Why do these bad people keep tying Mills up to pipes that are attached with loose nails? Kim is in driver’s training at the beginning of the film, but later navigates an intense car chase like a pro. Is it too much to ask an action film to also be smart?
Every action-flick cliché is made use of here, from our heroes having to walk on a window ledge to safety, to a torture scene where we see the torturer whip out a set of sharp objects. The bad guy tells Mills his plans and then instead of killing him, leaves him free to undoubtedly escape.
When Mills crashes his car into the U.S. Embassy, how is he allowed to then leave to go on a dangerous mission? Why is he not enlisting the help of others? Where the heck are the police? Am I the only one asking these key questions?
Mindless action shouldn’t be so stupid. But Taken 2 is the valedictorian at Summer school.
Fitting then, that after an hour and a half of killing, screaming, chasing and more killing, they all go out for ice cream. It’s all so inconsequential really.
At one point in the film, Neeson’s character even says that he’s done. That he’s tired of all of this. I couldn’t agree more. Too bad that the film mentions a few other Albanian family members still out there somewhere. Could there be a Taken trilogy? Anything is possible, especially in a world where it would make perfect sense to get kidnapped every few years.
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