Inauthentic ‘Taken 2’ falls short of its predecessor
Movie Review | 1.5 out of 5 stars
Published: Monday, October 15, 2012
Updated: Monday, October 15, 2012 08:10
Every few years, that special kind of film comes around — the kind that, despite being indistinguishable from other movies in its genre, still manages to become a hit. It’s the kind of film that will be quoted and watched repeatedly, with its absurdity enjoyed rather than ridiculed. “Taken” (2008) was that kind of film. Its sequel, however, has missed the mark altogether.
The original “Taken” chronicles the story of ex−CIA operative Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) as he attempts to rescue his daughter after she is kidnapped during a trip to Paris.
“Taken 2,” the forced and tired follow−up, essentially tells the same story. The only difference is that this time, instead of saving his daughter, Mills has to save his ex−wife and himself after they are taken hostage in Istanbul by the father of a kidnapper Mills killed in the first movie. Surprise, surprise.
In “Taken 2,” many of the characters and scenes lack an element of credibility. First, the film’s dizzying opening credits are followed by the strange idea that Bryan’s beautiful daughter, Kim (Maggie Grace), is still a teenager. Although he is enormously entertaining in action sequences, Liam Neeson seems almost bored and fatigued as Mills in these early scenes. Even the villain, Murad Krasniqi (Rade Sherbedgia), seems cheap and one−dimensional. His motive is clearly revenge, but the expense at which he tries to attain it is simply implausible. Does he not remember the chaos of the first movie?
The opening of the film is much different from the original. While the first film took itself seriously, the sequel has no qualms with self−mockery. For example, in his first few lines, Bryan calls himself “obsessive,” and the audience can almost feel him smirking. Another scene ironically echoes his daughter’s previous “Taken” kidnapping: after she ditches a driving lesson with her dad to meet up with her new boyfriend, Mills tracks her down with a secret GPS he installed on her phone. And later, when Mills suggests that Kim and her mother join him on a trip to Europe, there is a ridiculous sense of suspense, leaving audiences with the rhetorical question, “What could possibly go wrong this time?”
While the previous film was truly an engaging thriller, this sequel seems to embrace the fact that nobody will find it believable. Indeed, it often skips past any sensible, scientific or typical detective−film “rules.”
Putting aside any logical thoughts, in situations even more absurd than those of the previous film — for example: using a hand grenade as a makeshift GPS, or somehow making a phone call while locked in an underground prison cell — “Taken 2” is chock−full of unreasonable action and completely lacks any realistic or believable elements.
Staying true to the action film genre, “Taken 2’s” fight scenes are incredibly entertaining. Pinned against violent and unintelligent Eastern European gangsters, Mills remains a loveable hero. His abilities to escape from any situation, no matter how cornered and surrounded he may be, are still entertaining and his protective fatherly demeanor — which becomes like a mama−grizzly−bounty−hunter when his family is in danger — keeps viewers amused. Still, audiences can’t help but feel like they have seen this before. Although he is impressive as he takes down droves of threats to his family, Neeson’s stop−at−nothing attitude is really nothing new.
“Taken 2” is exactly what any fan of “Taken” expects: an incredibly similar, but somehow more absurd sequel, with equally beatable henchmen and ruthless Eastern European villains. Unfortunately, it does not measure up to the original. Though “Taken 2” is fun in its ridiculous ways, it is ultimately too silly to be “taken” seriously.