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PopEntertainment.com > Reviews > Movie Reviews > Taken 2

MOVIE REVIEWS

TAKEN 2 (2012)

Starring Liam Neeson, Maggie Grace, Famke Janssen, Rade Šerbedžija, Leland Orser, Jon Gries, D.B. Sweeney, Luke Grimes, Kevork Malikyan, Alain Figlarz, Frank Alvarez, Murat Tuncelli, Ali Yildirim, Ergun Kuyucu and Cengiz Bozkurt.

Screenplay by Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen.

Directed by Olivier Megaton.

Distributed by 20th Century Fox.  91 minutes.  Rated PG-13.

 

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Taken 2

Taken 2 is different in some ways than the surprise hit Taken a few years ago.  Liam Neeson's ex-wife gets kidnapped instead of his daughter.  The villain is the father of the bad guy in the original.  It takes place in Istanbul instead of Paris.  There is a 2 in the title.

That's about it, though.

Oh wait, it's also not as good.

However, here it is, inverting the story of the popular original with ever diminishing returns.  It's not awful, it's just so formulaic and lazy that it is hard to expend much concern on the characters. 

Not that you should even be disturbed about a lack of originality here, after all the first Taken was just a blatant rip-off Roman Polanski's Frantic revved up for the Bourne generation.  Still, the first one worked on a visceral level.  It was a jolt of energy and a shocking departure for its respected Oscar-winning leading man.

Three years later, action star Liam Neeson is old news.  Not only has he made the Taken films, he also has put together such high testosterone thrillers as Unknown (which also is essentially a very similar storyline to the Taken films), Chloe, The A-Team, Clash of the Titans, Battleship and The Grey.  So the idea of Liam kicking some ass is no longer intriguing just in itself, there needs to be a reason for it.

Taken 2 is essentially an inversion of the Taken plot.  In a gorgeous foreign city, Slavic bad guys target Bryan Mills' (Neeson) family for kidnapping.  This time out it's not his daughter Kim (Maggie Grace) - though they try for her but she slips through their not exactly-foolproof-plan by unexpectedly deciding to check out the hotel pool.

However, this time out the baddies are hell-bent on taking the whole family.  Therefore they track down the former fed and his possibly reconciled ex-wife Lenore (Famke Janssen) into the Istanbul bazaars.  Liam is doing a good job of kicking some bad guy ass, but then they catch up with Lenore and he surrenders to spare her life.

This leaves Kim out in Istanbul to save her parents.  Luckily for Mills, the bad guys missed a mini-cell phone he had hidden and so he is able to walk his daughter through the plan to get them free.  However, in the long run Kim is only slightly more fleshed out as a character than she was in the first - and she was drugged up for at least 2/3s of that movie.  Now she stumbles through her dad's brilliant (too brilliant?) plans to track down the hiding place and get Mills freed to kick some more ass.

Interestingly, Janssen's character is the only one who is allowed to grow here.  In fact, in a recent interview I did with Janssen she said, "In the first one I was this horrible, bitchy character, for some reason.  I was never happy with the way that they wanted me to play it, but that was how they wanted to do it.  The second one, I got the opportunity to soften her."

And it is true, she is a more interesting character this time around.  Too bad the last half of the film turns her into a generic victim.  There is even an extended section in which Neeson's character leaves her injured and in the middle of enemy territory.  Then he is shocked when she is abducted yet again. 

If you saw the first film, there are no real surprises here.  It's a slightly tweaked variation on a safe formula.  It's a decent enough action film through much of its running time, but it is not the surprising adrenaline rush that the first Taken was.  Not by a long shot.

Alex Diamond

Copyright ©2012 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: October 3, 2012.

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Copyright ©2012 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: October 3, 2012.

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