Taken 2 Review: Taken For a Ride?
“My hat is off to the fight choreographer…”
Geek Smash Score: 80/100
Back in January of 2009 no one could have predicted that the original Taken would receive so much success. Raking in $145 million dollars Fox clearly started seeing dollars signs and planned a sequel. In my opinion this is not the best reason to make a film, so I went into it thinking that maybe it shouldn’t exist. Does this attempt at fanservice pay off? That’s the question I’m going to answer by the end of this review.
First thing you need to know about Taken 2 is that the entire cast returns; this time with bigger paychecks and a new director. My first thought was: “Milk that cash cow Fox, milk it good!” This movie is made for a guy like me and Fox knows it. I loved the original, I love Liam Neeson and I’d go see a movie with him starring regardless of almost anything else about it. Even if it is a blatant attempt to cash in on guys like me.
That said for ninety minutes long it starts off a little slow, but quickly picks up the pace and doesn’t slow down until it’s over. I enjoyed myself, even if I did feel a little Taken when all was said and done, because in my opinion Liam Neeson is a bona fide action star and is in the same league as those cast in the Expendables 2. There are even recent internet jokes making him out to be the new Chuck Norris. That being said Neeson is starting to show his age but he’s a sprightly fellow and it’s good to see that 3-4 years later he’s still got it. One of the thoughts I was left with coming out of this film was how fun it would have been to see him as James Bond.
The points that I did feel Taken 2 happened while watching the generic action sequences such as chase scenes and gun battles, which were fast and frantic but nothing particularly special. The shaky cam technique was used frequently, and I could have done without it. I understand shaky cam technique is used to try to make the fights seem more intense, but this technique makes it hard to follow the flow of combat. All in all, the “close quarters” combat is where this movie shines. My hat is off to the fight choreographer, he knew how to really make Neeson seem to be ex-CIA.
Plot-wise, it’s pretty much the same as the first film with a few twists that we will cover in a second. If you’ve seen the first film you can kind of figure out what to expect. No, this time Neeson’s daughter isn’t taken. Thank goodness! Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) has to go to Istanbul on business. His ex-wife Lenore (Famke Janssen) is separating from her husband and daughter Kim (Maggie Grace) has a new boyfriend. Kim is also having issues getting her drivers licence. Clearly stressed and in need of a break, Bryan offers for them to join him for a vacation in three days after his work is done. Little do they know they’re being tailed by the father of the main bad guy from the first film, seeking revenge for his son’s murder at the hands of Mr. Mills. The twist here is that the bad guy is out for the entire Mills family and Bryan along with Lenore gets taken this time around. So it’s up to Kim to help save them with guidance from her dad on his special super secret spy cell phone. Olivier Megaton’s film clearly doesn’t take itself too seriously as is shown by Kim running around the city on roof tops haphazardly throwing grenades. Where the hell were the cops?
Kim doesn’t so much as rescue her dad as gets a gun to him so that he can rescue himself. When he is free, there is a big car chase where Kim drives and Liam is yelling at her the whole time. Remember she doesn’t even have her licence. She is crashing into stuff and he’s all like, “MOVE!” and she’s like “I can’t do this.” and he’s like “Yes you can, MOVE!” By the end of the chase scene, which has them crashing into the US Embassy, I was thinking: “So apparently being ex-CIA means you can do almost anything you want in the world and get away with it.”
Despite its flaws, at its core Taken 2 is a great continuation of the story from the first film. This is Taken through and through and the gang is all here. Loads of suspense and while it may be predictable, if it’s not broken don’t fix it. They could have taken more risks but it’s still a must see for all Taken fans even if it’s just a DVD rental.
I’m not sure if they should make another but it’s probably inevitable. The bad guy at the end says he has two other sons. I think the key to making money on a film series like this is to make sure you release it on a weekend where it won’t have much competition. There is a lot in this film that is really implausible, lots of convenient things that happen, and the writing isn’t going to win anyone an Oscar. If you like action movies like me though, and are able to just sit back and enjoy the ride, Taken 2 was made for you.