Sunday, January 20, 2013

Taken 2 (2012)

JohnnyTwoToes is not taken in by this insipid sequel !

The original action thriller Taken (2008) slickly directed by the French cinematographer Pierre Morel, best known for directing From Paris with Love and District 13, was a surprise smash hit which jettisoned Irish superstar Liam Neeson to action hero status, even though he is a fine actor who had done countless other films. Lots of great films, actually. 

In Taken, Neeson's daughter is kidnapped and sold into a sex slavery ring along with her best friend when they go to visit Europe. It was a tough and solid action picture where the audience connected with the hero. I mean who wouldn't do everything in their power to save their daughter? 

Taken 2 picks up after Taken ends. It's been a little while but everyone is still just a little on edge. Kim (the daughter taken in the first film and played by Maggie Grace) is trying to get her drivers license and she has a boyfriend, whom she likes but is not sure she loves him, yet. Lenore (Famke Janssen) is Bryan Mills' (Liam Neeson) wife and she who has been separated from Bryan from the first film is now living in a extravagant estate but is having issues with her new beau. It seems he won't take them to China like he promised. So back into Bryan's arms she falls in need of comfort. The two are so nice to one another you wonder why they ever were separated to begin with. Ah, but who's cares, right? 

Bryan comes up with the great idea. "Hey I have a business trip in Istanbul for three days. After those three days why don't you and Kim come out?" Bryan says with a soft understanding voice. For the films expediency I will spare you the shock. They both go to meet Bryan in Istanbul and soon the action licks in. 

Taken 2 pits the father of the men that Bryan killed in the first film against Bryan in the second. Apparently the father, Murad Krasniqi (played by Rade Sherbedgia) has an endless array of other sons and thugs all too willing to participate in another kidnapping. This time of Bryan and Lenore. I guess when you have a film like Taken 2 you have to have bad guys thump like rabbits to produce all the offspring you need to facilitate the necessities of a ludicrous plot. I mean most people don't have an army of home grown minions to sacrifice time after time. But this is Hollywoodland so Taken 2 sadly ends up being another in the long line of ill advised sequels that should never have seen the light of day. 

It is not an awful film but it is contrived, predictable and filled with stock characters that don't need names. They are just lambs for the slaughter; gimmicks to fill the plot. This sequel does not have the energy, style or the connection to the hero like the first film. It simply exists to make money (and it did) and make way for a third one. Taken 2 only succeeded in boring me, as the action was pretty routine as well. Neeson does what he can and he does carry this lame duck for a while. But Oliver Megaton's (Transporter 3) direction is scattershotly effective and the script by Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen does nothing to give this film any originality. You can have sequels, just make them about something rather than just rehash the original. Taken 2 is uninspired and just plain boring. It's deja-vu in a bad way all over again. Taken 2 -** out of 4.


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