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Overall Rating

Awesome: 5%
Worth A Look35%
Average: 25%
Pretty Bad: 30%
Total Crap: 5%

2 reviews, 8 user ratings

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Taken 2
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by Jay Seaver

"A one-Megaton dud."
2 stars

It's almost silly to wonder if Luc Besson and company had any sort of ambitions along the lines of showing the aftermath of a big action story after the adrenaline runs out. After all, Besson's main skill as a writer is tailoring a straightforward action movie to the strengths of its stars; continuity and complexity are not so much his thing. Even with that in mind, "Taken 2" is a disappointment; hacking what simple pleasures it contains to ribbons.

As one may recall, former CIA agent Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) cut a bloody swath through the Parisian underworld when his daughter Kim (Maggie Grace) was kidnapped; now, many of the bodies he left in his wake have been returned to their families in Albania, with the father of one, Murad Krasniqi (Rade Serbedzija) vowing revenge. That opportunity comes when Mills finishes a bit of personal security work in Istanbul, intending to spend the remainder of the week on vacation with Kim and his ex-wife Lenore (Famke Janssen) - at least, until Murad kidnaps them, intending to kill Bryan's family in front of him.

This is obviously a bad idea. I'm no criminal mastermind, but the last time somebody abducted a member of Mills's family, he straight-up murdered everybody connected with the crime despite spotting the kidnappers enough time for him to fly from Los Angeles to Paris. I get that the desire to make things personal must be strong, but given Mills's history, this really seems like the sort of revenge best accomplished with a sniper rifle from a kilometer or so away. Sure, you can argue that the filmmakers were boxed in by their title (can you call it "Taken 2" without a kidnapping?), but that doesn't make the problem less obvious. Especially since Besson and co-writer Robert Mark Kamen drop hints that they may have been thinking of more than just repeating the first movie in a new city - Kim mentions that the ordeal of the first movie has left her a bit messed up, and Lenore's marriage has fallen apart since then; combine that with Murad and you've got everybody haunted to some extent. That's kind of a neat story, and an angle that few action sequels ever explore. Unfortunately, it's just given the barest of lip service rather than actually used.

And yet, it takes Besson, Kamen, and director Olivier Megaton what seems like forever to get things moving. It seems like a half hour goes by without anybody getting punched in the throat while the filmmakers instead set up things like Kim's driver's test and her boyfriend who is a complete non-factor when it comes time for bullets to start flying. Once things start moving, Megaton proves quite bad at presenting action, spending an inordinate of time on a hooded Mills counting and then cutting the actual fight scenes to shreds. It's doubly frustrating, because cinematographer Romain Lacourbas gets some nice overhead shots of car chases and goons climbing onto rooftops to box the heroes in, but then Megaton and his editors get obnoxiously cut-happy, as if completely unaware that when you cut between someone starting to throw a punch and it connecting, you lessen the impact for the audience. And Megaton will occasionally cut something like four times per blow!

It's almost as if he missed what made Taken work - given Neeson, a tall guy with an intimidating voice but not that much in the way of fighting skills, Besson and Kamen created a character that got things done quickly, with an almost inhuman ruthlessness. When his character delivers a threat, it is carried out immediately and efficiently, and even as the audience roots for him, they're a little afraid of winding up on his bad side. The script tries to play that up by pulling Kim and Lenore into these situations, but nobody involved seems to realize that this side of Bryan should be terrifying to them.

Okay, Famke Janssen does manage her part, making Lenore frightened and far enough out of her depth that the audience is able to hook onto her really well. Maggie Grace tends to miss the right tone between someone rising to the occasion and still frightened by her last ordeal, though. Rade Serbedzija has been playing some variation on this part since the fall of communism, and goes through the motions. That may be better than Liam Neeson, who occasionally wanders into doing a Saturday Night Live take on his performance from the first, especially when Mills Needs someone to Focus!

It doesn't happen all the time, but it those slips into self-parody and the general flabbiness on either side of some well-conceived (if poorly-executed) action sequence does happen often enough to make a person wonder if the filmmakers knew what made "Taken" so well-received, or if this sequel was just a chance for too much money to turn down.

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originally posted: 10/10/12 14:54:59
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User Comments

3/25/18 morris campbell good action sequel 4 stars
4/17/13 Charles Tatum Director wants you to know he rented a HELICOPTER 3 stars
1/17/13 action movie fan good but too familar we,ve seen it all before 3 stars
12/21/12 Ding Dong Insulting garbage. Nothing makes sense, all characters are so stupid it hurts. :D 1 stars
11/04/12 mr.mike Wait for the DVD. 3 stars
10/11/12 Pat Noon You'd think that by now, Liam Neeson would have learned to quit going overseas on vacations 3 stars
10/10/12 Daniel Scott This movie is amazing! 5 stars
10/09/12 KingNeutron Enjoyable for matinee prices, but cliched 3 stars
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  05-Oct-2012 (PG-13)
  DVD: 15-Jan-2013


  DVD: 15-Jan-2013

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