Four years ago, when I first saw Taken, it was basically a mind blowing experience. Liam Neeson, being old, but kicking ass. All the ass. So much ass. Like, an absurd amount of dead bodies actually. Holy crap, he took out an entire mafia in France basically. He killed people with his cold heart alone, but just wanted to save his daughter and further awkwardanize their relationship.
But then I heard there would be a sequel, a Taken 2. Okay, fine, I liked the first one. As long as it just didn’t involve his daughter being dumb again, then it might work. Who doesn’t want to see more of Liam Neeson running around destroying everyone?
Well if anything, looks like his daughter gets to at least drive a car this time!
Remember all those people he killed? Well turns out, the fathers and brothers and other family members of them are kind of pissed off. Murad Krasniqi (Rade Serbedzija) is the father of the man who Bryan (Neeson) tortured with electricity and killed in the first film. After a large burial in their small Albanian village, they declare vengeance on the man who killed their family members. Just have to find him first.
Speaking of Bryan, well, he is still doing odd jobs and trying to get in with his old family. Turns out his wife (Famke Janssen) is no longer with her second husband. Score! Their daughter Kim (Maggie Grace) is probably 17 now, because she has failed her drivers test twice now. Parallel parking destroys her. Oh and she has a boyfriend.
But sad things happen! Their fancy fall vacation trip to China was canceled, because it was with the ex! Thankfully, Bryan has a job in Istanbul and invites them along to save their vacation! Woo, Istanbul! Land of a thousand lakes. So of course the Albanian’s show up and want to capture him and his whole family, return them to Albania, and kill him on their soil. The rest of the movie involves Bryan trying to protect both his wife and daughter, who are separated, while apparently taking out the last half of the men in that small Albanian village.
Remember. Like 17 or something in this film. Not 29 like the actress.
So how was Neeson as a bad ass now versus four years ago? Well, when I watch Taken, I kind of picture him like Batman. A Batman that kills. He has to use clues and whatever he can to get him to the next part of his journey, closer and closer to finding his daughter before she is unreachable and a sex slave. This time? Well, the bad guys come to him. So the whole thing takes place in Istanbul, which is a huge city yes, but a lot less expansive than the first film. Solving clues? Not really in this film. There is only two moments where he really uses his brain, the first time was awesome, the second time was just off of his memory.
So that is a decline from the first film. What about the action? I’d say that is mostly on par with the first one. Lot of hand to hand fighting, quick shot. Hey even a chase scene too, but this time with Maggie Grace driving the car. The mom character gets to be the mostly helpless captive this time, so there is that difference.
The problem with this movie is that it really doesn’t offer anything new. I went in kind of excited, but I felt like I was given a lot less on my plate compared to my first helping. Similar situations, yet a lot less. The first film did have quite a few “well that is convenient” moments, sure, but this one kind of amplifies that. They actually show zero transition from successfully saving his daughter with the US Embassy but being surrounded by people in guns, to being back on the streets for his wife. Tons of story line that seemed to be ignored, I guess to keep it around 90 minutes.
Taken 2 shouldn’t exist, but it should be followed up with a film called Taken It Easy, where Neeson finally gets to rejoin his family. Without awkwardness.
1 out of 4.