One of the surprise hits of 2008, Taken was mildly xenophobic fun, a no-nonsense action thriller which turned Oskar Schindler into the kinda guy who’d punch a wolf in the face, redefining Liam Neeson as a super-annuated action hero.
One of the surprise hits of 2008, Taken was mildly xenophobic fun, a no-nonsense action thriller
which turned Oskar Schindler into
the kinda guy who’d punch a wolf in the face, redefining Liam Neeson as a super-annuated action hero.
The plot was simple: Over-protective father and ex-CIA agent
Bryan Mills (Neeson) is trying to rebuild his relationship with his estranged
daughter Kim (Maggie Grace) and
remarried ex-wife Lenore (Famke Janssen)
after years of working abroad.
When Kim goes to Paris on holiday and is promptly kidnapped by slimy
Albanian white slavers, Mills must fall back on his old skills to rescue her,
in the process battering seven shades of sh*te out of Paris’ dodgy Eastern
Europeans, rapey Arab sheikhs, corrupt French cops and anyone else who gives
him a funny look.
Drawing on the Die
Hard 2 school of filmmaking, Taken 2
is pretty much the same sh*t happening to the same guy twice. This time around, Bryan’s working a
little security job in Istanbul when Kim and Lenore turn up and join him for an
impromptu couple of days holiday.
Lenore’s marriage is on the rocks and Kim’s playing matchmaker, trying
to rekindle Mom and Dad’s romance in one of the most vibrant cities on
Earth. It’s unfortunate then that
the grief-stricken, vengeance-seeking patriarch (Rade Serbedzija) of the Albanian white slavery gang Bryan massacred
in the first movie decides to play gooseberry. Lenore is taken and it’s up to Bryan and Kim to save
her. Which involves Bryan
murdering every Albanian in Istanbul in as child-friendly, PG-13 fashion as
possible while Kim practises for her driving test which she’s failed
A major sub-plot of Taken
2 is concerned with Kim’s driving deficiencies.
Opening next week to what’s increasingly looking like almost
universally bad reviews, Taken 2
isn’t very good. It’s not as
terrible as you’d think from the reviews but when the director’s surname is Megaton
you’d be a fool to expect anything other than a bomb.
Where the first film was lean and mean, pared to the bone
and moved like a bullet, Taken 2
feels rather slow, flabby. Much of
the film’s criticism is being directed at the admittedly cynical editing of
some of the film’s more violent fight scenes to gain a less restrictive, more
teen friendly rating. And sure,
the film does look like it was edited by a mountain gorilla on tramadol who’s
snipped out all the snappy-neck noises and stabby/shooty wound moments with
some safety scissors. But, be
honest, director Olivier Megaton’s
previous films, The Transporter 3
and Colombiana, were almost
incomprehensible, edited to cause the maximum amount of fitting amongst
epileptic audience members. And
really, was anyone actually expecting to be blown away by Taken 2?
The film is just a daft, by-the-numbers retread of the first
movie. The action scenes are
decent as Neeson and Grace run around Istanbul trying to find Janssen and steer
clear of the Albanians and with so much emphasis placed on Grace’s bad driving
of course she’s going to take the wheel for Taken 2’s big car chase.
But there’s no surprises here (other than the filmmakers think the audience
will believe 29-year-old Maggie Grace can still play 17), Taken 2 never takes you anywhere you don’t expect it to.
But it doesn’t have to!
Taken 2 is
built upon the concept that we like to see Liam Neeson stride around an exotic
locale in a leather jacket battering foreigners/wolves/Sith Lords. We do. And we’ll probably watch Taken 3 when that comes along. Surely that Arab sheikh Neeson killed at the end of the
first movie must have had some sons who are looking for some payback?