Review: Taken 2 – Too many mistakes

Taken 2In 2008’s Taken, ex-CIA agent Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) has his daughter taken from him by a band of Albanian gangsters who specialize in kidnapping young girls and forcing them into prostitution. The former spy whips-up on the bad-guys, kills the ring-leader and gets his daughter back. But now, in the sequel, Taken 2, the deceased gangster’s Dad is out for revenge and no one comes out of this unscathed – including the audience.

Even though the first Taken film was just a run-of-the-mill retread of a 100 different Deathwish rip-offs, it was still an entertaining ride that was worth a wasted Saturday afternoon with a bag of popcorn. Liam Neeson (Qui-Gon Jinn, Zeus and Ra’s Al Ghul) is usually worth watching in almost anything he does, but in Taken 2 the script is too goofy and could almost be mistaken for a comedy.

Retired Agent Mills takes on a private security gig in Istanbul and after the job is finished his ex-wife and daughter show up for a vacation getaway in the Turkish tourist trap. Unfortunately, the father (Rade Serbedzija) of the Albanian gang boss that Mills electrocuted in the first Taken shows up as well and before you can say, “Constantinople,” Mills and his ex-wife (Famke Janssen) are captured (i.e. Taken) and it’s up to their daughter Kim (Maggie Grace from Lost) to pull their fat out of the fire.

Mills is chained up somewhere in the city, so together with Kim, via cell phone, they utilize a GPS system to triangulate his exact position. Now, by GPS I’m not talking about a “global positioning system;” I mean a “grenade positioning system.” You know…when you toss hand grenades outside your hotel window until the party you are trying to locate hears the explosions and can explain which direction to go. Yes, it’s that absurd.

Taken 2So Kim helps her Dad escape, but the bad-guys still manage to get away with Mom. Now, I’m a fan of Famke Janssen (X-Men’s Jean Grey and James Bond’s Xenia Onatopp), but for most of this film all she does is lie around in a half-dazed stupor. Yes, I know she’s had the “X-Gene” beat out of her, but come-on, this is the actress who played the Phoenix. It seems like such a waste of talent that the writers (Luc Besson of La Femme Nikita fame and Robert Mark Kamen) couldn’t come up with something for this woman to do in order to defend herself.

Mills takes out the baddies one-by-one until he eventually catches up to Serbedzija (who reminds me of “the most interesting man in the world” from the Dos Equis commercials), but before he takes on the gang leader he has a climactic battle with a short, fat Albanian who looks like a meaner and hairy version of Curly from the Three Stooges. The writers and director (Olivier Megaton) of this sub-standard action-flick really need learn what a “climax” is all about.

On the plus side, there is some interesting music in this movie, by composer Nathaniel Méchaly, which helped to build some of the tension that the narrative was lacking. And Neeson, even though he’s getting old, is still a joy to watch; but he should have taken a cue from his Star Wars character Qui-Gon and “trusted his instincts” to avoid this Turkey. Grade 3/10

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About the author

Bob Leeper

Bob Leeper is the co-owner and manager of "Arizona’s Pop Culture and Alternative Art Network," Evermore Nevermore. He is the co-creator of the pop culture events Steampunk Street and ENCREDICON, and is a member of the Phoenix Film Critics Society. He also curates the Facebook fan site The Arizona Cave – AZ Fans of Edgar Rice Burroughs, and is one of the few brave and bold fans of Jar Jar Binks.