Director: Olivier Megaton
Cast: Liam Neeson, Famke Janssen
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It’s hard to tell what people expected from Taken 2. The first film, a low-brained, high-octane thriller about Liam Neeson shooting a bunch of foreigners, delighted action junkies with its two-dimensional villains and brutal take downs. Taken 2 offers more of the same. So, where’s the problem?
Is it that the Albanian baddies (led by Rade Sherbedgia), out for revenge after the first film, now have a vague motivation beyond simply being foreign? Is it that Bryan Mills (Neeson) has softened up in his old age and become a simpering family man? Are the action sequences simply not as good?
We might be able to answer if we could see more than half of the film.
Taken 2: The Editing Suite, Olivier Megaton’s 12-certificate sequel butchers, maims, cuts and burns – but never the villains. Instead, we get a string of set pieces that recall the controversy surrounding the UK Blu-ray of The Avengers – in the climactic fist fight, Mills ‘Agent Coulson’s someone to death (a very particular skill).
Credit to Neeson, he carries on with the same grim expression, using every inch of his 6″4′ to instil some sense of theat. And Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen’s script does the right thing, fleshing out the father-daughter relationship that fuels our thuggish hero – a chaotic car chase smartly sees Kim take the steering wheel, while one scene involving her lobbing grenades and circling a map is hilariously daft. Maggie Grace looks less like a teenage girl than Vince (our site’s scaly mascot), but she holds up her end of the bargain, at least given more to do than the wasted Famke Janssen, who gets a dubious promotion from Ex-Wife to Person Who Is Also Taken.
But for all the film’s self-aware stabs of humour and silly stunts, Taken 2’s killer blow remains its post-production. Cleaning up a grimy B-movie into something you can show your kids, Fox’s bizarre cash-grab leaves Neeson’s killing machine stumbling around a sanitised, sun-bleached Istanbul.
“I’m going to look for them,” the gruff Mills tells Kim. “I’m going to find them and I’m going to… make sure they never do it again,” he finishes lamely.
If you can accept the awkward tone and jarring edits, Taken 2 works on exactly the same level as the first film. The question is whether you expected anything different.