Today: April 13, 2024

Taken 2

The first time Liam Neeson displayed his unique set of skills in Taken, a cult movie was born.

The first time Liam Neeson displayed his unique set
of skills in Taken, a cult movie was born.

Witnessing an aging Neeson go all Jason
Bourne
on racially stereotyped villains was mindless, forgettable fun. Even if it did tick every action cliché
in the book. Taken 2 is almost
verbatim the same, although crucially this DVD/Blu-ray release has an Extended
Cut feature, which means you get to see an extra SIX minutes of violent stuff
that got cut from the theatrical cut.

This time retired
CIA agent, and now security expert, Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) is in Istanbul on a protection detail. Job done he’s joined by daughter Kim (Maggie Grace) and ex-wife Lenore (Famke Janssen) with the intent of
having some quality family time.
But of course the families of all those stereotypical villains Bryan
killed in the first film are out for revenge and soon kidnap Lenore and Bryan,
forcing Kim to help her father secure their release.

If you liked the
first Taken chances are Taken 2 will do enough to maintain that enjoyment. It’s not that it does anything hugely
different to the first film, more a case of – if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Bryan manages to use more MacGyver-like skills this time round;
one particular scene sees him have Kim set off grenades in order establish
where he is being held hostage.

Of course the
script is rife with pitfalls, not least of all Bryan’s parenting skills. At the beginning he’s worried about
Kim’s new boyfriend, doing as all over-protective fathers do and running
background checks on the poor sprite, but seems happy to grant her access to
firearms and grenades. Furthermore
the opening scene sees Kim failing to turn up for a driving lesson having
already failed her test three times.
By the mid-point she’s able to drive dear-old-dad at top speed through
the streets of Istanbul as arguably the best get-away driver since Ryan Gosling’s Driver, she even gets
Gosling’s Drive theme-tune (Tick Of The Clock by The Chromatics) in preparation for her
big moment.

The aptly named Olivier Megaton directs the action to
the point of over-edited, shakey-cam annoyance. At times you suspect there might be an interesting fight
going on, the kind of fight that has been choreographed over a long period of
time by a team of stunt men, only to be obliterated by Megaton as you wonder
whose fist just hit what.

Neeson feels
slightly bored in the role of Mills.
It’s a fair assumption that he’s here more for the pay cheque and while
he does his hardened, cool, calm and angry thing fine, neither the script or
his performance asks much else of him.
Maggie Grace, closer to 30 than the under-20 she’s supposedly playing,
is given more to do and while always the whiny, over-smiley idea of a teen she
has at least dropped the arm flailing of the first film.

Stupid,
over-the-top and not a patch on the films it’s trying to be, nonetheless Taken
2 does exactly what you expect of it.
It’s safe to say that with his new action-man persona firmly established
(see also Unknown, The A-Team, The Grey
and the upcoming Non-Stop) Liam
Neeson will probably end up Taken Again.

Alex Moss Editor

Alex Moss’ obsession with film began the moment he witnessed the Alien burst forth from John Hurt’s stomach. It was perhaps ill-advised to witness this aged 6 but much like the beast within Hurt, he became infected by a parasite called ‘Movies’. Rarely away from his computer or a big screen, as he muses on Cinematic Deities, Alex is “more machine now than man. His mind is twisted and evil”. Email: alex.moss@filmjuice.com

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