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Overall Rating
3

Awesome: 5.26%
Worth A Look31.58%
Average: 26.32%
Pretty Bad31.58%
Total Crap: 5.26%

2 reviews, 7 user ratings


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Taken 2
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by Peter Sobczynski

"Dude Still Has Skills. . ."
4 stars

When "Taken" premiered in America in January of 2009, few observers expected anything much from it. Between a revenge-oriented plot that seemed like every film Charles Bronson did for Cannon Films rolled into one, an unlikely action hero at its center in the form of Serious Actor Liam Neeson and the fact that it had already played throughout the rest of the world and was opening in these parts on Super Bowl weekend, a time when its target audience of young males would presumably be otherwise occupied, most assumed that it was just another anonymous piece of junk that would come and go from multiplexes quickly enough. As it turned out, the film proved to be an enormous hit at the box-office and even received surprisingly good reviews that acknowledged that it more than made up for its lack of originality with a number of electrifying action sequences courtesy of writer-producer Luc Besson and a startlingly effective and convincing performance by Neeson that unexpectedly transformed him into a throat-punching badass of the first order.

Thanks to the huge success of the first film, "Taken 2" was pretty much an inevitability but such a thing carries its own set of obstacles to overcome. For starters, it has to somehow work around the fact that it is somehow supposed to continue a story that ended in as conclusive of a manner as one could possibly ask for since it was designed as a single, self-contained narrative and nothing more. More significantly, the surprise of seeing Liam Neeson smacking and shooting his way through armies of bad guys is now pretty much non-existent since that seems to be all that he does in the movies that he appears in these days. (The fact that the guy who once played Oskar Schindler could go on to tackle the George Peppard role in the big-screen version of "The A-Team" continues to baffle me to this day.) Instead of coming up with clever ways of clearing these hurdles, Besson and director Olivier Megaton (who previously collaborated on "Transporter 3" and "Colombiana") have chosen instead to blast through them with enough bombast to hopefully cover up the fact that "Taken 2" is practically the same thing as the first film. Funnily enough, this approach turns out to be reasonably effective and while it is nowhere near as good as the original, it is far more entertaining than it frankly has any right to be.

The film opens up with what looks like a selection from the "Scenes We'd Like To See" section that used to run in "Mad" back in the day--a group of coffins containing the bodies of the Albanian white slavers who picked the wrong man to cross in former CIA agent Bryan Mills (Neeson) when they kidnapped his teenaged daughter Kim (Maggie Grace). The father (Rade Serbedzija) of one of these men--the one that Bryan fried in a jerry-rigged electric chair after torturing him for information--swears vengeance on Bryan and tracks him down to Istanbul, where he is just wrapping up a private security gig only to be surprised by the arrival of Kim and ex-wife Lenore (Famke Janssen), who now may be back in the picture in the wake of her recent divorce from her second husband. While out for a ride with Lenore, Bryan notices the bad guys closing in and, despite his best efforts, he and Lenore are kidnapped. Despite being imprisoned, Bryan is still able to contact Kim, who stayed back at the hotel, and with her help, he is able to escape and sets off to decimate the rest of the baddies and rescue his wife by any means at his disposal.

As a hardcore Luc Besson fanatic of the first order, I loved "Taken" but aside from the aforementioned opening bit, the early scenes of "Taken 2" are not especially promising--the screenplay by Besson and longtime collaborator Robert Mark Kamen attempt to recreate the slow-burn opening of the original instead of just getting to it and the new father-daughter conflicts (she is having problems getting her driver's license and has a boyfriend) are both spectacularly uninteresting and, seeing as how Maggie Grace is clearly long past her teen years, a little bit creepy to boot. Thanks to these developments, it takes nearly a half-hour for the action to kick in but when it does, "Taken 2" finally kicks into high gear as well with the kind of deliriously conceived and executed action scenes that Besson's productions are famous for. Of them, the one that is sure to be discussed the most is the one in which the imprisoned Bryan is on the phone with Kim and attempts to pinpoint his locations by having her utilizing such time-honored navigational tools as a map, a pen, the direction of the wind and, oh yes, a handful of hand grenades that she throws willy-nilly from the rooftops. No, this does not make a lick of sense, even by Besson standards where things like logic and physics are so pliable that his films often feel like live-action cartoons, but it is so audaciously goofy that it is well neigh impossible to resist. (If you don't finish watching this sequence with a silly grin plastered on your face, you had might as well leave because this clearly isn't you movie.)

"Taken 2" is not a great film by any means--as I mentioned, it takes forever to get going and the ending is almost as exhausted as its participants--but it is a good one that is filled with breathless action and weirdo humor that is anchored by another strong and sure Neeson performance. It may be as original or groundbreaking as its title but it gets the job done in a lean and efficient manner and unless you are of Albanian descent, it should prove to be a blast for most viewers . My only hope is that if it proves to be successful enough to inspire a "Taken 3," Besson will take the initiative to put the Neeson character in a new adventure that has nothing to do with his family because that conceit is now officially played out. Maybe he can hook him up with the main character from his "Transporter" franchise and the two can drive around solving mysteries and punching people in the throat. Hey, stranger things have happened--I just hope they remember to bring a few hand grenades along for the ride in case they get lost.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=23931&reviewer=389
originally posted: 10/05/12 12:35:19
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User Comments

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
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  05-Oct-2012 (PG-13)
  DVD: 15-Jan-2013

UK
  N/A

Australia
  05-Oct-2012
  DVD: 15-Jan-2013




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