Verdict: 2 / 5
Taken 2, a sequel to the highly successful and utterly irresistible 2009 action thriller, which made 230 million dollars, sees the tall and beefy Liam Neeson return to form as Bryan Mills, a retired CIA operative. Directed by Pierre Morel, from a Luc Besson script, Taken helped cement Neeson’s career as a bankable go-to action star, putting him in the forefront as one of the best action heroes in the last decade. A sequel was inevitable, but unfortunately Taken 2 has been met with plenty of criticism from fans and critics alike.
In Taken, Mills did look for them. He did find them. And he did kill them. But there was one thing that the man with “a very particular set of skills” didn’t count on; Albanian human trafficking baddies have families too. And as it turns out, this group has a father who doesn’t take kindly to CIA operatives killing off his sons, regardless of the bad things they did. Bad parenting aside, after just a few lines into the screenplay, he swears vengeance and goes in search of the Mills family. (Why anyone would want to mess with the guy who trained Batman, is the god of thunder, takes on a pack of wolves barehanded, heads up the A-team, trains Obi-Wan, and roars like a lion, is beyond my understanding.)
Meanwhile, poor Bryan Mills isn’t asking for much out of life. He just wants to be left alone while obsessing over his daughter’s whereabouts, maybe work his way back into his ex-wife’s life, hang out with his buddies on the weekend, and do the odd high security jobs for high profile clients. But bad guys just won’t let him be. Trouble is attracted to him like a moth to the flame. When the “evil daddy” finally catches up to him, his family is… taken again. And as the saying goes, “Taken once, shame on you, Taken twice, shame on me.”
I’m not sure that you can blame Neeson for the clumsy, outlandish and laughable sequel. Most of the problems lie within the script writing, with too much effort put in to recreate or rehash scenes from the original. Sadly with Taken 2 we’re served cold leftovers from a few nights before. It just doesn’t taste as fresh as it should, mostly due to over-the-top dialogue and several implausible scenes – like Kim’s driving lessons subplot.
Audiences didn’t need much from Taken 2, just more of the same – a smart story, with an action star who could actually act. Instead we’re served a less convincing sequel which does little but highlight how cool the original was. The derivative Taken 2 builds from solid story but develops into a spoof of the original half way through. It’s not all bad. It’s not the worst movie of the year, but it’s certainly the most disappointing.
I don’t know who is to blame for Taken, but it so happens that fans who come equipped with a particular set of skills—skills acquired over a lifetime of watching action movies, skills that make us a nightmare for people like them… We will look for him, we will find him, and we will kill him for ruining one of the greatest action movie characters!