Directed by: Olivier Megaton.
Written by: Luc Besson & Robert Mark Kamen.
Starring: Liam Neeson (Bryan Mills), Maggie Grace (Kim), Famke Janssen (Lenore), Rade Serbedzija (Murad Krasniqi), Leland Orser (Sam), Jon Gries (Casey), D.B. Sweeney (Bernie), Luke Grimes (Jamie).
Unlike many, I didn’t think too much of the original Taken. It was an average action movie with a ludicrous plot and subpar acting – aside from Liam Neeson – and spent much of the time wallowing in torture. Director Pierre Morel knew how to stage an action scene though. In short, I found Taken to be a fairly average, forgettable action movie – other than Liam Neeson’s speech about his very specific set of skills, there is nothing that really stands out in the original Taken. But the film, made on the cheap, was a surprise hit, meaning that a sequel was inevitable, if not advisable.
It most likely took four years to get a sequel made because with all the bad guys dead, who would Liam Neeson fight? Would anyone buy the fact that someone else would just randomly kidnap poor little Kim Mills (Maggie Grace) yet again? Eventually, the filmmakers decided on the path of least resistance and went a clichéd with action sequel setup – all those dead people had families. And one of them, Murad Krasniqi (Rabe Serbedzija) is pissed and wants revenge. The sequel picks up just after the last one ended – with Murad standing over his son’s grave, and the graves of the others who Neeson killed, as they get buried – and swearing vengeance.
We then flash back to Los Angeles where Kim is trying to learn how to drive so she can get her license. How much time has passed is not mentioned, nor was I ever sure of just how old Kim was supposed to be. Are we supposed to believe the 29 year old Grace is just 16 or 17? Or that she was just a slow learner when it comes to driving? Is this just weeks after her father saved her, as implied by the funerals that open the movie. If that’s the case, then you would think that considering she was kidnapped to be used as a sex slave, she may need psychological counseling, and not being worrying about driving tests or starting a new relationship with a scruffy boyfriend, who of course Neeson hates. Oh, and Lenore (Famke Janseen), Neeson’s ex-wife is having problems with her new husband, and it looks like a divorce is imminent. That bastard even cancels a trip they had scheduled – so Neeson has a good idea – both Lenore and Kim should accompany him to Istanbul where he has a couple of days of work – and then they can have a vacation. Of course, Murad knows they will be in Istanbul, and has ways of getting them all. His plan is to take all of them, kill Lenore in front of Neeson to make him suffer, sell Kim into the sex slavery that Neeson just saved her from, and then slowly torture him to death. What we don’t see coming is that Kim will be the only one the kidnappers don’t get – and she’ll help her dad escape so he can kick some ass once again.
Taken 2 is even more clichéd and ludicrous than the original movie – one of my favorite moments has Kim whipping grenades around Istanbul, not to hurt or kill anyone, but just so Neeson can figure out where she is (no one seems to care that things keep blowing up). The clichés and outlandish plot could be forgiven if the movie was somewhat entertaining or exciting – and Taken 2 is neither. For one thing, it takes nearly half an hour for anything to actually happen. The first 30 minutes is the most boring beginning of an action movie in recent memory. When the action finally does kick in, new director Olivier Megaton (not his real name) uses the type of rapid fire editing and non-stop camera movement that have become far too prevalent in action movies today. But unlike someone like Paul Greengrass, who is capable of using that style effectively, Megaton (man I feel like an idiot typing that word as someone’s last name) has no clue what’s he doing. I could never tell what the hell was going on in any of the chase, fistfight or gunfight sequences, because the movie never orients itself – never really lets you see what the hell is going on. It’s all sound and fury signifying nothing but sound and fury.
I cannot imagine too many people, even fans of the original Taken, really liking Taken 2. I know not everyone cares about logic when it comes to action movies, but I don’t know anyone who thinks action movies should be boring for long chunks of its running time.