Sunday, November 11, 2012

Taken 2

By Jon Gallagher

Taken 2 (EuropaCorp, 2012) – Director: Olivier Magaton. Starring Liam Neeson, Maggie Grace, Framke Jannsen, and Rade Serbedzija.

I can’t say I’m a big fan of sequels, especially if I haven’t seen the first one. It may be a little hard to get up to speed on the characters if I haven’t seen the predecessor. Fortunately, I did see Taken, so when I went to see its sequel, Taken 2, I had a good idea of where things were going to go.

Although seeing the first movie isn’t a prerequisite for Taken 2, it is a good idea. The original gives you a better understanding of the main character Bryan Mills (Neeson) and just how far he will go to save someone he loves. If you haven’t seen the first movie, you can still enjoy the sequel, but I’m guessing, you won’t like it quite as much.

Taken (the first) has Mills’ daughter Kim, who lives with her mother, going off to Paris with friends. While there, she is kidnapped and she is about to be sold into sex slavery. Her dad (Neeson) is a retired CIA agent with a “special set of skills” that allows him to track her and the bad guys down, and saving her. 

Sorry if that spoils the ending for you, but you have to figure that if there’s a sequel, then he probably got the job done in the first movie.

Taken 2 picks up not long after the first movie ends. Mills is trying hard to reestablish a relationship with his daughter, but he’s a bit overprotective (understandable, even if she hadn’t been kidnapped in the first movie). After his ex-wife has a breakup with her current boyfriend, Mills offers to take her and Kim to Istanbul for a little R and R.

Meanwhile, the father of the first movie’s bad guy is seeking revenge for the death of his son. He doesn’t seem to care that his son was a human trafficker, selling young girls and destroying countless lives; he only want justice (most people call that revenge). He puts together a team of bad guys who somehow find out that Bryan and his family will be in Turkey, and plots to kidnap all three.

He manages to get Bryan and his wife, but this time, Kim is able to elude the bad guys, and plays a big role in helping her dad.

The plot is pretty straightforward. I wasn’t thrilled with what they did with the basic concept. I think they could have taken a bit more time to develop the storyline, which might have made the whole movie more exciting.

There were some tense parts in the movie, but nothing that might make your hair stand on end. There are some chase scenes, both on foot and in cars, but those too, are nothing for director Megaton to brag about. As a matter of fact, people who like to point out inconsistencies (like bullet holes that appear and disappear randomly and windshields that miraculously heal themselves for short periods of time) will need a lot of paper on which to take notes. I’m not sure what kind of cars they use for taxis in Istanbul, but I can tell you they’re practically indestructible (at least through 95 percent of the chase).

Neeson is good in his role. I sure wouldn’t mess with him. Then again, I wouldn’t mess with Dakota Fanning, so my assessment may not hold a lot of water. Great acting, however, is not what the director was trying to achieve with this movie; he was after the action sequences combined with the suspense element. It’s just okay in both of those regards. Neeson was much better in the first movie.

The rest of the cast (no one you’ve probably ever heard of) is adequate, but that’s about it. They weren’t as bad as the casts that Steven Seagal uses in his bombs, but no one here will ever be confused with Oscar nominees either. 

All in all, I give it a very low C-. It was better than I expected, but not one that I would see more than once, even on DVD. It gets the grade based on the thriller elements and the basic plot, but little else. I debated for a while whether I should drop it into the D ratings.

Don’t bother seeing it in the theater. I don’t think the big screen added anything to the movie at all. Wait for it on DVD and if you like action/thrillers, and you’ve already seen Taken, give it a try. You may be more impressed than me.

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