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The Cinematic Katzenjammer: Oct 11: Taken 2

Thursday

Oct 11: Taken 2

"In Istanbul, retired CIA operative Bryan Mills and his wife are taken hostage by the father of a kidnapper Mills killed while rescuing his daughter."
Directed by: Olivier Megaton, Rated: PG-13, 91 minutes

Back in 2008, the world got a different look at Liam Neeson. We always knew he was a great actor and an immortal badass but with Taken, we witnessed the man become his own breed of action star, kicking more ass than we ever thought possible. It was a surprise hit, coming out in January, a month where most movies get released to die (as a side note, with The Grey this year, Neeson is easily the King of January). I remember coming out of the theater knowing I had just witnessed something incredible. The action was tight and the plot was simple enough to keep things moving. Four years later we're again given the chance to see Neeson kick ass in Taken 2. Unfortunately, it fails to deliver any of the excitement of the first film.

Even gods can fall...

Seemingly only months after the first film, Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) is on a mission (I thought he was retired?) in Istanbul. His ex-wife (Famke Janssen) and daughter (Maggie Grace) surprise him on the trip, hoping to have a nice little broken-family vacation. Unfortunately for the family, the father (Rade Serbedzija) of one of the men Mills brutally murdered in the first movie is seeking out revenge for his son as well as the others who were killed. So Papa Sex-Traffiker has Mills and his wife kidnapped and brought to some facility for some fun and torture. Of course, Mills' perpetually 16 year old daughter, Kim, manages to evade capture and through a series of random grenade tosses and drawing circles on maps, she helps save her father. Once the Kraken's released, Mills needs to track his ex-wife down and save her, while killing everyone and everything in his way.

Maggie Grace is 29. Not 17. We're not that stupid, Hollywood. 

There's so much to complain about when it comes to Taken 2. After four years since the last film, you'd assume more effort would be put into this sequel. The film feels incomplete and rushed, with so many scenes that just don't make any sense. The action is also very weak and the camerawork doesn't let Neeson shine as the action star we love him as. It's jumping around too much and you can never really focus in on what's happening, leaving much to be desired. The plot itself is also recycled as much as a plot can be and you're left wondering why a family that just suffered such a close-call tragedy in the first film could venture out of their own homes, let alone an entirely different country. Upon its announcement, I knew the film would struggle in the plot department, but I hoped that if it could at least duplicate the first film's style and action, I'd easily forgive that fact. Taken 2 does not deliver the goods and feels very watered down. 

Speeding blind through the crowded streets of Istanbul while daddy shoots bad guys is apparently the only way to practice for a driving test. F**k that subplot...

Even with it's flaws, it's always nice to see Neeson in a role that gets him even more attention. This is a guy I've loved for so many years, even turning him into my fake-cinematic father figure (I know we all have), so seeing him in a successful franchise is good. However, I know he's better than Taken 2 and I really wish he forced the film to go into another direction. On previous episodes of the As You Watch Podcast, I've mentioned that I wish the franchise would turn more into a buddy-ex-military-special-ops kind of film, where Mills teams up with his ex-CIA friends that he hangs out with in the first film (yes, they do pop up in Taken 2 but nothing really happens with them). If you must, go see Taken 2, but go into it knowing that it's a huge disappointment. Mills' specific set of skills take a back seat in this very lackluster sequel. Here's hoping that the inevitable Tak3n turns stuff around and gives us the proper sequel we deserve. 

The Good:
a soft addition to Neeson's career, with just a couple (and I mean a couple) moments where he kicks a lot of ass
The Bad:
the script is lazy, with weak action and an ending so laughable you hate life
The Ugly:
camerawork and editing that let you see nothing going on, wondering if a child spinning around in circles was given the camera

Overall: 5.5/10

Trailer:

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4 Comments:

At October 12, 2012 at 10:34 PM , Blogger Richard Kirkham said...

Agree with your general points. I think there is a good fight sequence, but the car chase was shot oddly. The payoff needed to be stronger given the reprehensible threat made to Bryan's daughter and the hanging bag of ex-wife. Still, Neeson does some ass kicking.

 
At October 13, 2012 at 1:44 PM , Blogger Nick said...

He does kick some ass, yes, but the overall movie isn't worth watching, which really sucks. That car chase was God awful. Megaton should be ashamed.

 
At October 31, 2012 at 9:07 PM , Anonymous Daniel Prinn said...

Haha, fine review Nick! :) I agree with the shatty camerawork, especially those opening credits. Jeez! Talk about hard on the old eyeballs!

 
At October 31, 2012 at 9:12 PM , Blogger Nick said...

Definitely indeed. Such a letdown.

 

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