Producer Luc Besson and director Pierre Morel’s “Taken” wasn’t a perfect film. However, it was a solid action thriller that served up a good protagonist, strong forward momentum, good action, chase sequences and some clever twists that drove its pace and plot. I guess one may say that such a film should be a ‘one-timer’ since really, there really isn’t much one can do with the concept of “Taken”. But I guess Luc Besson with new director Oliver Megaton wanted to capitalize on the ultimate “Father’s Day” action flick with “Taken 2”. This sequel isn’t as clever and sharp as its predecessor, but thanks to a dynamic performance by Liam Neeson, this sequel is entertaining to a point.
The plot of this sequel is very simple. Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) is having another ‘go’ in re-establishing his relationship with his estranged ex-wife, Lenore (Famke Janssen) and his daughter, Kim (Maggie Grace). Lenore is on the verge of a divorce and though retired from the CIA, Bryan manages to get some good paying jobs that takes him to Istanbul. After his assignment, he is joined by Lenore and Kim for a quick vacation, and this is where he is stalked by Murad Krasniqi (Rade Serbenzija), the head of the Albanian mafia and whose son he is killed during his rescue of Kim. Bryan now finds himself fighting for his life and his family.
The layout of the plot sounds good on paper, after all, Neeson played a father determined to find his daughter in the first movie, and so another father may become obsessed with vengeance after he had torn apart the Albanian mafia. I have no complaints about the plot, but what I did not like was the fact that the direction struggled in its execution. The action was decent in this sequel, as Megaton manages some good camerawork, and he occasionally does manage to generate a feeling of suspense as Bryan Mills sets out to keep his family from harm. Neeson is also terrific in the lead role, he was convincing as a ‘father on the rampage’ once more, he is determined and almost unstoppable in his quest to protect his family.
I guess the issues began when the screenplay proves to be a little sloppy and the editing is quite messy. The script tries to incorporate certain characters from the first film to establish its connections and this worked in the film’s favor. However, there were several devices that lacked sense and careful planning in the script. Some scenes required a huge suspension of disbelief (Kim tossing grenades to triangulate a location without incident) and Megaton’s editing felt really sloppy as bad guys came and go, and don’t get me started with the production designs. I mean, the dents on the cab appeared and reappeared at will. Not sure, it was almost as if the direction wanted to keep certain details to keep its PG-13 rating in theaters, that in turn, the editing and the pacing suffered because of it.
I know this is a sequel so I did not expect further characterization for its lead characters, but the bad guys this time around were very one-dimensional. Save for Serbenzija’s Murad, the bad guys felt like fodder for Mills to simply mow down. They were faceless, and like bowling pins, they were meant to fall down and disappear. I know, the first movie also had a lot of fodder, but remember, there was the crooked cop, the human trafficker, the rich Arab, the pretty boy and the pimp that aided the original’s flow. Here, it was all about Mills and Murad, and all you had to look for was their final showdown. The rest were all about chases and quick escapes, as the hunter became the hunted.
Perhaps I am over-thinking this. The action choreography does provide some entertainment as Neeson engages the bad guys; with his bare hands and guns, the action certainly drove the film’s energy. There was a good moment when Mills confronted a possible superior fighter and this helped with the film’s impact in the final act. Neeson was terrific as the lead, but Lenore was your typical ‘damsel in distress’ and Kim was the strong if annoying female partner. The action sequences weren’t the issue here, but rather the flow of the plot and the development of its devices. It was all by the numbers and the script felt very uninspired. The dialogue also wasn’t as well-thought out as in the original, but thankfully Neeson knew how to deliver the lines.
“Taken 2” is an inferior sequel as was to be expected. It was entertaining to a point but sadly it could have been better. It was a disappointing follow-up to the original because its execution was very sloppy. It feels like a rethread of the original when it could’ve been so much more. The action had its good moments but lacked power in its narrative. The editing was just dreadful that it made the film an obvious money-grab. Liam Neeson deserved a better sequel. Rental [2 ½ Out of 5 Stars]
After the first movie which may be the ultimate "father's day" movie to watch, Liam Neeson reprises his role for a sequel. I want to see where they can take the character into this time. But really.... The guy trained Bruce Wayne in Batman Begins....trained Obi-Wan in "Star Wars'...He played a God in Narnia and Clash of the Titans....he punched wolves in THE GREY....why mess with him again?!