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Review: Taken 2

20th Century Fox: Liam Neeson in "Taken 2"After the success of a film in Hollywood, there are probably many fans who ask “when are they going to make a sequel.”You know it’s coming, and I don’t think too many of us will mind if it’s any good. So, after they found success with 2010’s action film Taken, it wasn’t a shock that we found out that Liam Neeson was coming back to the big screen as former CIA operative Bryan Mills in Taken 2.

Taken 2 begins showing a group of mobsters in Albania burying the remains of the criminals who were slain by former CIA operative Bryan Mills. These Albanian gentlemen want revenge for these murders and they’ll do whatever they can to get it done. They’ve scouted locations and spied on Mills and his family, waiting for the right time to strike them down and claim their vengeance that they believe is owed to them.

Mills on the other hand, has moved on with his life since the events of the first film. He’s still overprotective of his daughter Kim (Maggie Grace), but now he sees he also needs to be there for his ex-wife Lenore (Famke Janssen), who is going through marital problems. He has his hands full with them, but he still has work to do. His next job opportunity is in Turkey, and to take their minds off of things he asks his ex-wife and daughter to join him in Istanbul.

Lenore and Kim agree to travel to Istanbul with Mills for his short stay on business. That’s where the trio runs into danger when the Albanian madmen catch wind of their whereabouts. Unbeknownst to them at the time, they are being followed as they arrive to enjoy their vacation. And in the blink of an eye, they’re cornered and “taken” by these armed men. Now Mills has to device a plan to save the lives of Lenore, Kim and himself. He has to do whatever it is that he needs to do in order to avoid the same fate of the men who kidnapped his daughter that he’s done all he can to protect.

If Taken 2 was real and I knew the villains that were planning to go after this man, I’d asked them how much sense would it make going after a man who single handily killed a whole gang of men from the criminal underworld while barely breaking a sweat? They clearly state early in the film that they’re well aware of what he’s capable of and they know how he did what he did. If a man is as bad as Bryan Mills is supposed to be, I think it would be best just to leave him alone or snuff him out as fast as possible.

Of course that’s not what these ingenious baddies do. The first flaw from these typical bad guys comes from the fact that they want to catch the lethal Mills alive. Once again, this same man (Mills) single handily killed a whole gang of men from the criminal underworld while barely breaking a sweat . Do you think taking him alive is an intelligent strategy? Me neither.

It may not be smart, but these mobsters decide to do it anyway. This obviously opens the door for all types of outcomes for the movie and it’s one of the common movie mistakes made by villains. Then again, if they made it realistic, the film length of Taken 2 would only be the size of your average television commercial break. I don’t think anyone who wants to watch this would want that.

When we don’t look at the plans of these Albanian mobsters and we look at them as people, you’ll find they have something in common with the enemies from the first Taken. Much like the first film, these villains who oppose Mills and his family are faceless and nameless for the most part. As the audience, we only ever get a clear look at Murad Hoxha (Rade Šerbedžija), the head of this mafia that’s out for vengeance and I don’t even remember if they ever mentioned his name or not. The antagonists themselves are rather useless and are only there as complimentary pieces for the action that is supposed to ensue.

The people who plan on seeing Taken 2 are probably going to see a large amount of action coming off the screen, but they might be disappointed to an extent. They might be disappointed, because there surprisingly isn’t much action in the movie. When it’s on-screen it’s decent more than it’s not, but nothing blows you away and it managed to do something that the comedy The Babymakers couldn’t do; it’s actually able to get a few laughs from the audience. That’s not really a good thing though, because the action and these lines aren’t supposed to be comical.

They were laughing because some of the things that are going on in the film are extremely cheesy and corny. It’s not just the action that they were laughing at. Some of them even laughed at the goofy one-liners that Liam Neeson is asked to deliver. Some of the action sequences seem impossible, but it’s made even worse when they add the dialog with it. I guess you can say that Taken 2 is somewhat of an accidental comedy in some peoples eyes.

Although some people laughed at Liam Neeson pulling his best imitation of McGuyver, (my aunt’s favorite television show from the 80’s) during a few of the action scenes with “interesting” dialog and one-liners, the action is watchable for the most part and it’s the second best part of the film. The best part of the film is actually the soundtrack that’s playing throughout the movie. The music that you here is really well done and it’s in nearly every single scene. Maybe they kept the music flowing to distract the audience from the lack of action? I don’t know, but this film would be much better if everything else was on the level of the soundtrack.

I also have to point out something that will be fairly obvious to fans who have seen the film Midnight Express. If you you’ve seen that 1978 film that many view as a classic, you’ll notice a few scenes and a certain event that in Taken 2 that are from that Midnight Express. You notice these similarities early on in the film and it becomes even more apparent in one of the latter scenes. When watching this, it became quite clear that someone behind the creation of this film starring Liam Neeson is undoubtedly a huge fan of the award winning prison film from the 1978 and they took the time to pay homage to it.

Despite it not being very good, Taken 2 isn’t a complete bore in my opinion. The action is entertaining to watch at times and the soundtrack is wonderful throughout the film’s duration. We even get to look at the older, but still attractive Famke Janssen on-screen more than we do in the original. If the creators of Taken 2 would have added some more action that didn’t seem too implausible to go with all of that, you would have had a better movie worth recommending.

Score: 2/5

Rating: PG-13

Director: Olivier Megaton

Liam Neeson
Maggie Grace
Famke Janssen
Rade Šerbedžija
Leland Orser
Jon Grimes
Aclan Bates
Kevork Malikyan

Film Length: 91 minutes

Release Date: October 5, 2012

Distributor: 20th Centruy Fox

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