If some is good, more is better, right? When it comes to movies, maybe not so much. A sequel can be a logical continuation of an original idea, or it can be a watered-down duplicate that serves nothing. Guess which category Taken 2 falls in? As much as I was looking forward to Liam Neeson’s (The Grey) reprisal of Bryan Mills, aka Super Dad – the results were rather disappointing.
When we last saw Bryan Mills, he was saving his teenaged daughter from sex traffickers who kidnapped her and her friend. Bryan rescued his daughter in daring fashion, while leaving numerous bodies in his wake. Fast forward a few years, and the families of the men that Bryan killed want revenge. I don’t know how much time is supposed to have elapsed since the first movie, but it can’t have been a long time. Bryan’s daughter Kim was a teenager before, and she still is. She’s 16 now; a fact that is patently absurd when considering that actress Maggie Grace (Lockout) recently turned 29. She looks every bit of it, but ridiculous casting is least of what’s wrong with Taken 2.
In the first movie, the plot was original, and the action seemed to unfold organically. Bryan was resourceful, and all of his fighting scenes were realistic. Neeson was perfect as the seasoned former government agent whose skillset uniquely equipped him for a rescue mission. This time around, he seems a step slower and the entire plot feels forced. After all that has recently happened, one would think that the Mills family would take added precautions when traveling internationally. Nope. They express no reluctance in traveling to Turkey to meet up with Bryan while he travels on a business trip.
Brian’s daughter Kim and his ex-wife Lenore (Famke Janssen, X-Men: The Last Stand) join him in Istanbul; while unbeknownst to them they are being tracked by bloodthirsty Albanians. They want to avenge the murders of their sons and brothers who were killed by Bryan in the last movie. Eventually Lenore and Bryan are kidnapped in Istanbul, but he is able to get word to Kim back at the hotel, forewarning her before she too is abducted. He was able to warn Kim because his captors allowed him to make the phone call right in front of them while they held him at gunpoint. What followed was scene after scene of stupefying occurrences, each more absurd than the one preceding it. Nearly everything about Taken 2 was unbelievable, from a decidedly middle-aged Neeson easily dispatching much younger men, to Kim somehow morphing into an Angelina Jolie action character. When she expertly darted across rooftops while throwing hand grenades with Aaron Rodgers-like accuracy, I checked out of the movie.
My friends with whom I saw Taken 2 shared my disappointment. I thought it began well enough, but as soon as the meat of the action got underway, it was all downhill. There was only one good fighting scene because it was the only one that was remotely believable. Neeson is a fine actor, and I’m not saying that he’s too old for an action movie, but this is a movie that didn’t need to happen. The camera shots even seemed sped up in order to create the illusion that he could actually pull off the fighting scenes and they didn’t look authentic. Taken 2 looks like it will open at the top spot in the box office, but I’ll bet it plummets by next week. If you’re looking for a good movie to see, I’d suggest Looper. It has a much better plot and a better performance by an aging action star (Bruce Willis). Grade: C
The preceding article first appeared at Poptimal and was reprinted with permission