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Taken 2

2012 | 98 min | PG-13 | 2.39:1

Taken 2


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4 user reviews

Movie appeal

Martial arts11%



Theatrical release date

 05 October, 2012
 04 October, 2012

Country of origin


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Screenshots from Taken 2 Blu-ray

Taken 2 Preview  

 / 10
Preview by Brian Orndorf, October 4, 2012

While Louis Leterrier’s “The Transporter” and “Transporter 2” were no diamonds of cinema, they were wonderfully amusing offerings of junk food, big on action and entertainment value, sold with a special Jason Statham growl. And then co-writer/producer Luc Besson handed “Transporter 3” to helmer Olivier Megaton, who cooked up a dreadful, comatose third installment, effectively killing interest in the series. Pierre Morel’s “Taken” was blissfully simplistic, focused, and served raw, using star Liam Neeson’s natural way with blunt force to fashion an absolute gem of an actioner. And now Besson has returned to his bad luck charm, calling up Megaton to guide “Taken 2,” a disappointingly flat, atrociously edited, and somewhat nasty sequel that doesn’t come close to the rapid-fire original.

It appears that when Luc Besson wants to kill one of his promising franchises, he calls in Olivier Megaton to do the dirty work.

Still trying to be superdad to teen daughter Kim (Maggie Grace), Bryan (Liam Neeson) is also growing closer to ex-wife Lenore (Famke Janssen), requesting the pair join him in Istanbul on holiday after he completes a bodyguard job. Hoping for a fresh start with the ladies in his life, also making time to question Kim about her new boyfriend, Bryan is stunned to face an onslaught of Albanian gangsters out to kidnap the trio. Led by Murad (Rade Sherbedgia), the men seek revenge for the bloodshed caused by Bryan while on the hunt to retrieve his daughter, looking to drag the family back and murder them inside their ravenous village. While Bryan and Lenore are taken, Kim manages to escape, connected to her father via telephone, using his special kills to help him escape from an unknown location. Recognizing the cyclical nature of the conflict, Bryan snaps back into war machine mode, stomping through Istanbul on the hunt for Murad and Lenore, who’s still in the hands of Eastern European ghouls.

“Taken” was aces because it was made so cleanly, with minimal characterizations handled with noticeable ease. Morel insisted on pace and pushed Neeson to match that energy, crashing through Paris with a tremendous genre zeal, barreling through shootouts and chases with electrifying confidence. The movie wasn’t original, but it didn’t have to be, honoring clichés by not dwelling on them. “Taken 2” doesn’t enjoy the same style of leadership, stumbling through a story that’s even more elementary than the previous film, with Besson and co-screenwriter Robert Mark Kamen dishing up a revenge scenario to find a way to pull Bryan back into the line of fire. It’s a trip to Istanbul and an extended dose of the hero’s Spidey Sense, and we’re off.

At least, we’re supposed to be off. In different hands, perhaps “Taken 2” might’ve resembled its predecessor, keeping light despite the commencement of a blood feud, clearing a path as quickly as possible to position Bryan in the driver’s seat. Megaton doesn’t have the instincts to fashion a thrill ride, though he’s not entirely to blame. The script is unimaginative with its villain characterizations and insane with its focus, entrusting most of the second act to Agent Kimmy and her teary, spastic manner of self-preservation. Because when moviegoers spend their hard-earned money on “Taken 2,” they’re really paying to see Maggie Grace flop through pedestrian action beats, including the least convincing grenade toss ever committed to film. To have Bryan locked up inside a dungeon for a good chunk of the feature is ludicrous, robbing “Taken 2” of its source of life, keeping Neeson pinned down for an unreasonable amount of screen time. Essentially, Bryan becomes tech support for his kid, walking through a series of instructions when the picture would be better off letting the man work through his own rescue.

When “Taken 2” does get around to aggressive activity, Megaton insists on hyperactive editing to cover his directorial incompetence, finding scenes of gunplay and chases through the streets of Istanbul reduced to hyperactive blurs of body movement and sound effects. The action is nonsensical, even for PG-13 goofballery such as this, with wild camerawork struggling to make stale staging come alive. There’s also a slight mean-spiritedness to the shenanigans this time around, finding Megaton adding an oppressive sense of torture to the “Taken” routine as the baddies use a slit on Lenore’s throat as a blood-dripping hourglass, hanging the woman upside down to escalate the revenge plot with their prize. The original feature’s use of electrocution as a method of informational extraction is almost quaint by comparison.

“Taken 2” has no rhythm, no drive to gift ticket buyers the ride of their lives. It’s sluggishly constructed and unexpectedly claustrophobic, observing Megaton repeat street conflicts without using the expanse of Istanbul to its full potential. There’s also a howler of a final fight, pitting hulking Bryan again an Albanian bruiser who’s about a foot shorter, rocks a pronounced gut, and wears a tacky track suit. This is the man we’re supposed to believe is capable of putting the big guy down for good? Megaton tries to sell the showdown as plausible, but come on. A pint of Guinness would have a better shot at toppling Bryan.

Compared to the first film, “Taken 2” is a calamity. It’s a stunningly tedious enterprise that never should’ve been handed over to Megaton. While sequels are traditionally difficult to construct, balancing audience expectation with minor artistic momentum, “Taken 2” fails to revive the irresistible energy that was so effortlessly realized before. This feature is a heartbreaker.

Starring: Liam Neeson, Maggie Grace, Famke Janssen, Rade Šerbedžija, Leland Orser, Luenell Campbell
Director: Olivier Megaton

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