In 2008 Liam Nesson refashioned himself as an action star. After years of playing serious dramatic roles, Nesson kicked some serious ass on the big screen. While not highly acclaimed, Taken was a fan favorite and gathered quite a following. With its cult like success there was no surprise that Taken 2 would quickly be in the works. However, the story of Taken wrapped up so nicely that it seemed unnecessary to have a sequel. Well sadly, that’s not how the movie industry works. So in 2012, Liam Nesson once again portrays the role of retired intelligence agent, Bryan Mills.
When Taken ended we found Bryan Mills fresh off kicking every ass in France that had it coming while simultaneously saving his daughter Kim (Maggie Grace) from a life of sexual slavery. Pretty admirable if you ask me, Bryan is the ultimate good guy with a mean streak; a real crowd pleaser. When we meet up with Bryan and the crew he is trying desperately to still connect with his daughter. He wants to teach her to drive but she keeps blowing him off, and his ex-wife Lenore (Famke Janssen) isn’t make his life any easier. This is a dynamic I found extremely frustrating this time around. So let me get this straight, after the events of Taken we are meant to believe that Kim and Lenore still don’t have the utmost respect for Bryan? Can we get someone to send them a DVD copy of the first movie? Anyway, Bryan invites Kim and Lenore to meet him in Istanbul after he completes a security job. After what happened in France you want to take you daughter to Istanbul? Bryan, at this point you just look like a bad parent, we are all disappointed. Meanwhile the boss, Murad Hoxha, (Rade Šerbedžija) of the Albanian mafia from the first movie is pissed that Bryan killed his men, especially his son. He promises to get revenge no matter what. So the Albanians track Bryan to Istanbul and the plot gets going. Like clockwork, Bryan and Lenore are taken and Hoxha spills the news as to why he came after them.
I had such a fun time watching Taken, but in all honesty I found Taken 2 to be absolutely craven. This was nothing more than a cash grab hoping to cash in on the cult following behind the first movie. I found the movie to lack the bizarre creepiness and visceral action of the first outing. The first movie dealt with a serious topic in an unserious way, but still had an element of mystery. This go around we got none of that. We get a lumbering Nesson who can’t take on the thugs with quite the veracity that he did back in 2008. The action sequences were shot very tightly and felt extremely frenetic. This is a lazy way of shooting action and its sped up to make the appearance of fast paced action. Director Olivier Megaton took over for Pierre Morel and frankly you can tell. Where the first movie had a budget of $26.5 million and felt like a low budget gritty action movie, Taken 2’s budget was $45 million and felt like over-produced schlock. Pointless winks and nods to the first movie, and no care for developing a good story. Why bother giving people a reason to watch when you can just have the hero swing an asp baton around really fast. All the acting was about as good as it was in the first one, but that isn’t saying much. Liam Nesson seemed to absolutely phone this one in. He never seemed too dedicated to making this movie, but rather just stumbling from one scene to the next. I never thought I could dislike Kim and Lenore more than I did in the first movie, but I was wrong…so wrong! The two characters were vapid and lack any humanity. Never once do I feel that they are happy to be saved by Bryan. They always have the attitude that he could have done it better or faster; stupid Bryan. Olivier Megaton really beats it in that Bryan has a fairly awful life and we should feel sorry for him, I don’t…stop going on these dangerous trips Bryan!
So the final verdict for Taken 2 is a rental or Netflix at best. I was one of those people who had Taken nicely placed on the cult following fun action movie section in my mind. However, Taken 2 is in the you have got to be kidding me section. If any of these people get “Taken” again I don’t want any part of finding out why or how.