Give the people what they want. That’s exactly the mantra behind the existence of Taken 2. After the original film, a surprise smash hit at the box office in 2008, fans cried out for more of Liam Neeson’s Bryan Mills using his particular set of skills to lay waste to hoards of Eastern European terrorists. However, after seeing Taken 2, you’ll feel as if your time and money has been kidnapped, drugged and forced into the sex trade.
When the father of one of the kidnappers swears revenge and takes Bryan (Neeson) and his wife (Famke Janssen) hostage during their family vacation in Istanbul, Bryan remotely coaches Kim (Maggie Grace) to help them escape using, ahem, a very particular set of skills etc.
Taken was strangely specific to a particular moment in time. During a sensationalist western media fad that involved a plethora of stories about female tourists being kidnapped, enslaved and prostituted, writers (Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen) were able to incite a mass catharsis with a simple inquisitive premise: what if those subhuman bastards kidnapped the daughter of a cold and calculating killing machine – who without hesitation would exact murderous vengeance on their whole fucking establishment. The original had its flaws but the effect and terror of the kidnapping and the sadistic pleasure of watching Neeson’s Mills seemingly inconsequential pursuit made for thrilling viewing.
Unfortunately, the follow up is a cheesier, clunkier, boring, forgone conclusion that makes you cringe and laugh in the wrong places instead of baying for blood.
The fundamental flaw of Taken 2 is that it tries to give a sympathetic face and nonsensical motivation to the parent of an abhorrent human trafficking, drug peddling, and murderous serial rapist when in reality that parent would have been happy that he was disposed of.
Neeson is a little older and paunchier and has more bad dialogue this time around which detracts from the only enjoyable thing in the film – him. Maggie Grace was agonisingly painful in the first film and even though she was as uncoordinated as My Left Foot in Taken, this time we’re meant to suspend disbelief during ridiculous grenade throwing ‘GPS’, orienteering and driving like it’s the world rally championship. Finally Famke Janssen is given nothing to do but telegraph the most obvious break up with her current partner to free her up to get back with Neeson. However, it does inspire the least convincing line to ever pour out of Neeson’s face when his friends press him about it: “Can’t we just talk about basketball!”
Taken 2 should have the semicolon and description “beware the family of a glorified henchman.” It’s bad, and not even Liam Neeson’s skills can save it.
Directed by: Olivier Megaton
Written by: Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen
Starring: Liam Neeson, Maggie Grace, Famke Janssen,
Taken 2 is released in Australia on the 4th of October 2012