Taken 2

Released: October 2012

Director: Olivier Megation

Rated: PG-13

Run Time: 92 Minutes

Cast:
Liam Neeson: Bryan Mills
Famke Janssen: Lenore
Maggie Grace: Kim
Rade Serbedzija: Murad Krasniqi
Leland Orser: Sam

If it seems like I’m reviewing this movies in reverse, I am.  In the case of the Taken movies, I feel it’s appropriate to save the best for last, which means, I’m saving the original movie for last.  It strikes me as a little unusual for certain movies to get sequels.  Taken didn’t really strike me as a particular candidate for the whole sequel thing.  As I’ve mentioned before, a good sequel will not only meet audiences expectations but exceed as well.  You want to provide something that’s familiar will adding in something new.  A lot of major blockbuster sequels do that to a varying degree.  A film-maker will back himself into a corner if he’s not careful.  What I mean by that, is that if he ends up retreading the same kind of material that the original film had laid down, people really aren’t going to find the sequel to be worth their time.  Don’t get me wrong, I have no problems with more of the same, if it’s done well and still adds something fresh to the mix.  Unfortunately for the Taken sequels, we don’t really get anything new here.  It’s all rehashed, either from the original picture or other movies.  The lack of originality can seriously hinder somebody’s enjoyment of a film.  If it’s something you’ve seen before and done better, what’s the point?

Taken 2 begins in Albania, as we witness the funeral of the men who were killed by Bryan Mills in the previous film.  One of men, Marco, was the son of the Albanian mafia boss, Murad.  Devastated by the death of his son, Murad vows revenge on the man responsible for his son’s murder.  Later, we see Bryan Mills parked out in front of his ex-wife’s house waiting for Kim, so she can finally pass her driver’s test.  As it turns out, Bryan’s ex-wife had been planning a spring break vacation for her and Kim when Lenore’s husband cancels all their plans, so Bryan invites them to Istanbul after he’s done with a job.  No sooner than after they get their rooms at their hotel, Lenore and Bryan set out on a date when Bryan notices that they are being followed.  Having her leave the car and find a way back to the hotel, Bryan is attacked by several members of the Albanian mafia.  He’s kidnapped along with Lenore, but not before calling Kim and telling her what happened.  It seems like the story feels like a fairly natural progression from the first, and to a certain extent it is.  Like the first film, it’s a very simple story, with not a whole lot of surprises.  It’s a very straight-forward revenge tale.  Here’s the problem:  It’s not very believable.  I mean, what are the odds that the boss of the Albanian mob would personally see to the kidnapping of an ex-CIA agent and his family?  You would think that Bryan Mills would have things and people in place to prevent that from happening.  Not only that, but it seems like Bryan’s family seems to be the unluckiest family in the world for them to be victimized for three movies.  For THREE movies!  That’s just plain bonkers, and it’s just so unoriginal that it’s laughable.  Here’s something else to think about: When Bryan is kidnapped, he gets his own daughter to help him.  That doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.  She doesn’t have training for that kind of thing, despite him talking her through it.  Not only that, you would think that she would be suffering from some sort of post-traumatic stress disorder from her ordeal in the previous film.  So, yeah, there are quite a few logical inconsistencies throughout the film.

The one thing I can say about the Taken trilogy, is that they are not boring movies.  There’s plenty of action.  Taken pretty much Liam Neeson a legitimate action lead again.  He does most of his own fighting and physical stuff, because he’s in really good shape.  It also helps that Neeson is a great actor, so not only does he bring the fisticuffs, but he also gives the character that particular level of intensity that the character requires.  I can’t really see anybody else playing the character the way Liam Neeson does.  He’s fantastic.  Famke Janssen is alright as Lenore.  The problem is, like Kim in the first movie, Lenore is the victim.  I guess Megaton felt that Kim needed more screen time and more to do than she did in the first movie, so he attempted to turn her into a quasi-action heroine.  It doesn’t really work.  For one, Bryan is an ex-CIA operative/soldier so he knows how to get out of tight situations.  So, if he can do that, why does he need her?  I’ll be honest, it’s actually nice not seeing Kim as a complete victim this time around, she does have more to do despite the script’s logical fallacies.  Maggie Grace does a pretty good job trying to keep up with Liam Neeson.  The action sequences are actually not too hard to follow, despite the crack-headed editing.  There’s a huge car chase scene that takes place throughout Istanbul which is actually pretty interesting considering that Bryan Mills isn’t the one driving.  Nope, he’s the one shooting, while Kim is driving.  It’s an interesting team-up that doesn’t really add much to the film.  The elephant in the room is the same as in the third film:  The editing.  I’m not sure what Olivier Megaton was going for when he wanted to shoot his movie.  The amount of cuts per scene is unbelievable and hard to follow, at times.  The one thing that you need in a movie like this is to be able to see what’s going on.  Apparently, Olivier Megaton didn’t get that memo.  A lot of the close-ups during the hand-to-hand sequences are nearly incomprehensible, because the editing sucks.  I’m repeating myself here, but every movie that Megaton has directed suffers this same problem.  It smooths out as the film goes on, but jeez, it starts out rough.

If you can make it through the issues with the script, the editing, and the somewhat shallow characterizations, you actually have a pretty decent action movie here.  Of the three films, this one is definitely the worst, but it is by no means a terrible movie.  The villains are pretty much cardboard cutouts with Rade’s Murad being the exception.  He does a good job with the character, despite the character not giving a crap about what his son did that got him killed.  Aside from that, what we have here is a by-the-book thriller with a fantastic performance by Liam Neeson.  It’s okay when you get past the issues, but there are better movies out there, like the original Taken.  I’m not going to say that Olivier Megaton is a bad director.  He’s not.  Check out Columbiana, if you don’t believe me.  That’s a good movie.  So he is capable of some pretty cool stuff,  I just wish he would give his editors some Ritalin.  While Taken 2 has some good things going for it, I just can’t really recommend at as a sequel or stand-alone film.  There’s too much wrong with it.  But I’m not going to give it a bad movie label, because it’s not a bad movie.  It’s just barely above average.  6.5/10.  This one’s a rental at best.

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