Review it!: Taken 2

When Liam Neeson uses his particular set of skills that he has acquired over a very long career, we should expect a body count, action, and a whole lot of ass-kicking — But it turns out all we get is a very weak story, poor script, and laughable action sequences.

Even more preposterous than the 2008 original, this hard-core revenge thriller picks up a year after the events in Paris, on a trip to Istanbul. Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) gets a surprise visit from his daughter, Kim (Maggie Grace), and his ex-wife, Lenore (Famke Janssen). As soon as they portray a happy reunion, I knew this film was going downhill — since when was hanging out with your ex-wife a happy reunion? It quickly turns sour when Lenore (his ex-wife) is taken by people working for Murad Hoxha (Rade Šerbedžija), the employer of the men working in the Paris building where Kim’s friend, Amanda, was found dead and the father of Marko Hoxha, whom Bryan killed in the previous film. With Lenore held hostage and Kim on the run, Mills must utilize all his lethal set of skills to rescue them and eliminate anyone who is seeking revenge against him.

I’m not sure who is to blame for this monstrosity of a film, director Olivier Megaton, or screenwriters Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen? I have to admit, I was a fan of the first film, it was pretty bad-ass, and the plot was decent. However, Taken 2 takes the franchise to a “Transporter” style direction – over the top and extremely unbelievable. I know Taken was never really a believable film to begin with, but Taken 2 is notably insane — even for them.

Liam Neeson is a great actor, but even a great actors fall hard if they don’t have a good script. The film is filled with poor dialogue and the action has been severely toned down. It’s fun to see Neeson in character as “Bryan Mills” the man with the “skills”, but in a city with a population over 12 million, he seems to find people pretty easily, and with the most unusually tactics.

One scene has Neeson Macgyvering his location on a map of Istanbul by advising his daughter to start lobbing grenades off roof tops so he can listen to how close she is to him. Yup, a former government agent tells his daughter to haplessly throw grenades, (at times without looking). I wonder how many innocent people she might have killed. Who is the crazy woman on a destructive rampage through the city? Talk about terrorism. If you think that’s bad, it gets worse. Not only does his daughter terrorize the neighbourhood with explosives, but she’s somehow able to do some impressive daredevil stunt-driving through Istanbul’s narrow cobbled streets, destroying half of the city’s police cars in the process.

Besides the fact that every bad guy in this film appears to lack peripheral vision, has a tendency to keep one’s back turned to the direction danger is most likely to come in, and overall inept. The biggest flaw in Taken 2 is the shortcut editing. One moment someone is held at knife point, then BAM the are free, no idea how or what happened. The speculation is that they cut a large portion of the film so they could get a lower rating – in layman’s terms; the film was targeted to tweens. It doesn’t make sense seeing how everyone who enjoyed the first film is now 4-years older, but that’s Hollywood.

I know there are some diehard fans of the first film reading this, so to be fair to the film there are a few good thing. If you ago into Taken 2 forgetting the first movie entirely and simply watching it as an action film involving big guns, car chases, exotic locations and a few laughs – then Taken 2 works for you. But in the end, this film tramples over the memory of its predecessor, which is why I give “Taken 2” a 4/10

Felix Kay,
Catch Movie reviews by @TheFelixKay every Thursday on Vancity Buzz.


“Taken 2” is rated PG-13 for  for intense sequences of violence and action, and some sensuality. Running time: 91 minutes. In theatres everywhere October 5th , 2012