Movie Reviews

‘Taken 2’: A bland sequel

By Patrick BenjaminMovies - 05 October 2012 12:04 PM | Updated 1:47 PM

‘Taken 2’: A bland sequel

"This is not a game. I will finish this thing. You'll just have to die"

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Rating: 1.5 stars out of 5

The stars: Liam Neeson, Famke Janssen, Maggie Grace, Rade Serbedzija

The story: In Istanbul, security expert Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) and Lenore (Famke Janssen), his ex-wife, are taken hostage by Murad Krasniqi (Rade Serbedzija) the vengeful father of an abductor Mills killed while rescuing Kim (Maggie Grace), his teenage daughter.

The buzz:  This sequel to ‘Taken’, the surprise sleeper hit of 2008 was always on the cards since Luc Besson and his crew raked in a bounty of US$225 million worldwide.   A pretty awesome killing for a movie that Liam Neeson thought might end up as straight-to-video fodder. 

insing.com says:  While, it was shockingly novel to witness the then 56-year-old Liam Neeson ditch his placidly introspective mentor roles for an all-action merciless killing machine with the thou shall not mess around with growl in the original.

Not many in the audience are excited about watching the strapping Irish thespian in yet another action-thriller escapade after his recent dalliances in the genre through movies like ‘The A-Team’, ‘The Grey’ and ‘Unknown’. But to be brutally blunt, his weather-beaten mug is the only redeeming quality of this ridiculously putrid rehash.

Also see: Badass Liam Neeson roles in movies

We aren’t even expecting an impeccable story with twists and turns. Just a rudimentary plotline to keep the action going would have sufficed, which the first ‘Taken’ had with a plausible nightmarish scenario–retired CIA operative Mills brought back to action when Kim is kidnapped by Albanian sex traffickers in Paris.

Kicking off a year after Kim’s rescue, Mills is back in American suburbia, trying to mend ties with Lenore, his ex-wife and being an overprotective dad to Kim, his 16-year-old daughter. 

He invites his daughter and ex-wife to join him in Istanbul for a short break after his latest security gig. That turns out to be a major mistake as Murad (Rade Serbedzija), a crime patriarch and his motley crew of henchmen are crossing the border from Albania, to avenge the death of his son and gang of fellow human traffickers who were killed by Mills in the first movie.   


Neeson returns with his 'special set of skills'

While the premise of revenge sounds promising, there is a distinct lack of gravitas in execution; the audience is only fed with clichéd characters of dim-witted, swarthy Muslim hoodlums who seem to have a fetish for faux leather jackets and dirty sweatpants. When something as heavy as revenge is on the menu, we would like to see the layers of hatred explored on-screen, instead the story-writing duo of Besson and Robert Mark Kamen, who had chosen to incorporate visual elements like the rarely seen grieving female relatives of the villains, fail to develop it any more than horribly cold mulch.

Right on cue, Murad and his Albanian crew promptly turn up to kidnap Mills and his loved ones, but after successfully abducting Bryan and Lenore, Bryan manages to warn Kim and tell her how to avoid the bad guys and rescue her folks.

All we witness after the abduction is Lenore getting bound, gagged and cut, while Bryan calmly voices out silly inanities like “You will be all right” and does a solid impersonation of MacGyver’s hi-jinks with a little help from Kim.

What ensues is absolute baloney, the leggy Kim runs around Istanbul rooftops throwing grenades so that her father can determine his hideout through echolocation. How the hell she gets away throwing grenades and racing like a Formula One driver in a taxi through an unfamiliar city when she had failed her driving test several times are enough reasons for the audience to guffaw at the inept storytelling.        

But the most inexplicable showcase on here has to be the directorial skills of former graffiti artist Olivier Megaton, who had churned out duds like ‘Transporter 3’ and ‘Colombiana’, manages to annoy the audience with his wonkily epileptic camera work that ruins the action sequences (only if Mills had choked him with one of his silent PG-13 approved holds).        

It’s wise to avoid this pointless sequel, you would be much better off renting the Pierre Morel directed original which has well-conceived car chases, gunfights, hand-to-hand combat scenes and torture sequences. And a much higher and bloodier body count if you are into that kind of thing.  

‘Taken 2’ opens in theatres 4 October 2012