Directed By: Olivier Megaton (Columbiana)
Starring: Liam Neeson, Maggie Grace, Famke Janssen
Rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, and some sensuality
Run Time: 1 hour, 31 minutes
Synopsis: Some time after Bryan Mills (Neeson) saved his daughter Kim (Grace) from being kidnapped in Paris by a sex slave operation and all seems well, he invites them to vacation with him in Turkey after his finishes a bodyguard job. What he doesn’t plan on is family members of the Albanian gangsters he killed in the first movie coming after him to exact revenge for his actions.
Andrew: Hello readers! Last night Sarah and I braved the middle and high schoolers that congregate at the local multiplex on Friday nights (shouldn’t there be high school football going on???) to see this weekend’s new action film Taken 2. The sequel to 2008’s surprise Taken, it sees the return of Liam Neeson to his role as ex-CIA operative Bryan Mills. This time instead of his daughter, Kim (Maggie Grace), being kidnapped it is he and his ex-wife Lenore (Famke Janssen) who are kidnapped and Kim has to help save them.
So this was one I think we were both kind of looking forward to mainly because Taken is plain awesome and I guess it was an assumption that a sequel made by essentially the same crew as the first one would be just as badass.
Sarah: Well the first one was surprisingly scary, too, because Kim is taken in Paris which is not usually considered a dangerous city. I mean, every city has it’s dangerous parts, but she’s abducted and sold into sex slavery. That’s terrifying!
Taken 2, however, is a pure revenge movie where the father of one of the Albanian’s Bryan killed wants to kidnap him and his family and bring him back to Albania for justice.
Let’s do this a little bit differently and I’m going to let you start by telling me what YOU thought of this one.
A: To be quite honest, I wasn’t impressed. I really wanted to like it because I love the first one and I assumed this one would just be mindless fun. And at times it is, but for the most part it’s actually quite tedious because there are very slight variances between this one and the original, but not enough actual excitement or originality to make me enjoy it. Honestly I was bored a lot of the time we were watching this.
|Yeah, Liam Neeson is still pretty badass as Bryan Mills. Too bad he doesn't do too many cool things like this in Taken 2.|
Neeson does a great job, he’s still awesome. Maggie Grace does fine for what she’s supposed to do, Famke Janssen does fine for what she’s supposed to do. Outside of that though, the villain wasn’t impressive. He was far too grandfatherly to be too much of a threat. I don’t know, there are just a lot of ridiculous things that kept happening that took me out of it.
S: Yeah, it was very campy. Whereas I found the first one to be relatively serious or it at least had some more menace to it, almost a dark cloud over the whole thing. I felt like this one was too…I don’t know, I agree with you. I wasn’t impressed with this one. I did also want to like it, I wanted to have those moments where Neeson kills a guy really cool, but there weren’t many of those times.
I don’t know…did this one have a different director?
A: It did, yeah. It was directed by Olivier Megaton who directed Columbiana and Transporter 3, while the first one was directed by Pierre Morel, who also directed that John Travolta movie From Paris With Love.
But still, this one was written and produced by Luc Besson, just like the first one was. And Besson is also the guy who directed the very popular Leon: The Professional and The Fifth Element, he wrote Lockout which I really enjoyed earlier this year. He’s done a lot of these movies…
S: Yeah, I guess he’s been pretty good at producing a lot of these same types of movies…
A: And some of them are great! But the thing here is that Taken 2 just felt derivative of the first one.
S: Yes it did!
A: But here’s the thing that kept bothering me: throughout the entire movie I kept comparing it to the first one, not in exactly what was happening in the plot, but in how realistic or how rational this one was compared to the first.
In Taken, almost everything Neeson’s character does makes complete sense. It’s very impressive and sometimes ridiculous what his skills are in what he does and how he tracks people down, but it’s still believable. This time there were SO many things that happened and I had to stop myself from laughing. Heads up readers, what we’re about to talk about isn’t spoilerish in the least, especially if you’ve seen the trailers.
Right from the get-go, when Bryan and Lenore are abducted, first Lenore is caught and brought out in front of Bryan with a gun pointed at her head to show him that he needs to give up. Well he ALSO has someone pointing a gun at him yet Bryan is able to pull out his cell phone, call Kim back at the hotel and give her explicit instructions on what to do to not get kidnapped herself!
S: And none of them stop him! Yes!
A: Yeah! What the hell is the guy with the gun doing?! Slap the phone out of his hand!
S: Seriously, the Albanian bad guy is just like, “We’ll let you finish your call, it’s cool.”
A: What is he doing?? You’re trying to catch her, too, why are you just LETTING Bryan give Kim instructions on how to escape?
|Hey Albanian bad guy who's pointing a gun at Liam Neeson in this scene: knock the phone out of his hand!|
S: Then they throw Bryan and Lenore in a van and start driving through Istanbul. And I’m sure Bryan knows the layout of Istanbul fairly well, I’m sure he’s been there plenty of times. But he starts keeping track of where the driver is taking them by counting the seconds between turns, which is believable enough, but then he starts using audio markers of what he hears outside the back of a windowless van.
He’s able to count based on those sounds and get his bearings…like I said, I can understand the turns but the sounds…
A: And the most ridiculous sound he keeps track of is…
In unison: The birds.
A: Yes! At one point they pass by a little shop that has some birds in cages out front and he hears the birds through the walls of the van while they drive by? Really?
So that’s ridiculous, and then something I’m surprised more people in the theatre didn’t laugh at is: A.) When Bryan is finally chained up by the bad guys in some location and he sneaks out this little hidden cell phone thing he had – which was actually pretty cool and something I’m sure exists – but the bad guys didn’t have ANYONE in the room with him…
S: They didn’t have anyone in either of the rooms that Bryan or Lenore were kept in.
A: And B.) Bryan starts telling Kim to start throwing GRENADES AROUND THE CITY OF ISTANBUL so that he could hear how far away the grenade blasts are from his location!
S: Istanbul is a pretty big city, how could he be sure those were the sounds he was listening for?
A: And how are the authorities not freaking out about multiple explosions going off??
S: Right? So that was ridiculous, too.
A: Basically there were too many ridiculous things going on this time, way more than the first one, enough so that it took enjoyment out of the movie for me.
Oh! And another thing! They make it very apparent at the beginning and the end of the movie that Kim doesn’t have her driver’s license because she’s failed her test twice…
S: Yet she can drive a stick shift through the streets of Istanbul at like 100 miles an hour? Like a professional stunt driver? Oh my gosh, the suspension of disbelief was stretched to the limits in this movie. This movie was disappointing to say the least.
A: Now I will say I enjoyed some of the fights…
S: Oh! That’s something I wanted to touch on. Yes some of the fights were good, but they were all incredibly choreographed.
A: And way too edited.
S: Yes. The hand-to-hand combat scenes in particular…I was cool with the gun-slinging, that was typical, but the hand-to-hand combat was so choreographed. The climactic fight scene in a Turkish bathhouse? I almost laughed when they threw down their guns and took off their jackets. It was ridiculous.
First of all I didn’t believe that the guy Bryan fights in the end was a master assassin or this torture doctor. But then to have a six foot four guy in Liam Neeson fight this five ten Albanian guy and not be able to knock him on the head Three Stooges-style? Come on. (Laughs)
A: I didn’t have as big a problem with the final fight scene, my problem was with the one right before Bryan and Lenore are captured when Bryan is beating the crap out of a bunch of guys. They quick edit the fight so fast that you don’t get to see any of the actual physicality.
S: Yeah, it’s very tight.
A: I understand why they did it because of the intricate choreography and because Neeson isn’t the youngest action star in Hollywood, but it was still over-edited.
S: It was tough to make out exactly what was going on a lot of the time. I was also bothered by the nightstick things the bad guys used in that fight – which looked like Harry Potter wands, by the way…
A: Well they wanted to take him alive, you know?
S: I get that. But Bryan was also unarmed. Aim a gun at him. He’s gonna stop. Why go at him with sticks? There were four guys who all came at him with sticks!
A: That’s a great point. It was one of many things that happened for the express purpose of driving the plot along. When you can pick all those things out, that’s when you start to have a problem.
S: And when the movie ended it lends itself to there being a third one and I was just like, “Noooo! Let it end!” In all honesty Bryan just needs to go to Albania and just end it all. Like say, “I know ya’ll are coming after me, let’s just end it. I’m coming to you, I’ll kill you in your own home.”
A: But see that’s the thing to me! It’s like, yes, they set it up for a third one but hey guys – DON’T LEAVE AMERICA.
S: Just stay home!
|Hey Maggie Grace? Yeah, just stay home next time. That goes for you, too, readers.|
A: Keep yourself and your familiy in America for the rest of your lives and you should be okay. It blew my mind how easily people in Turkey were bought off by the Albanians. It blew my mind that Bryan didn’t think to begin with not to leave the country or have his loved ones leave the country again.
And he acknowledges all of this too! At the end when Bryan finally has his climactic face-off with the Albanian dad, I like what he said to him. He essentially asks him, “If I kill you, do you have other sons who will come after me?” The guy says yes. So Bryan says, “Well then how about I let you live and we just go our separate ways and live with what’s happened. Because I’m tired of it all.”
I loved that.
S: I did too.
A: It felt real. It felt like it was going to be done. But since they set it up to where there’s definitely going to be a third one, Bryan seriously can’t leave the country again. There have to be PLENTY of bodyguard jobs to take in America.
S: There are plenty of people how need protecting in America. Just…stay out of Europe, stay out of Mexico…Canada and the United States are where I’d stick to if I was him.
I don’t know, I felt like it was a shame that this wasn’t even close to being on the same level as the first one. I guess it is what it is.
A: Are there any other good things we can think of about Taken 2? Because we’ve pretty much trashed the bad parts.
S: Not really. This family just has bad luck. I said it in the theatre and I’ll say it again. They seriously need to stay home.
A: Yes, but are there any other good things? Like I enjoyed the beginning of the movie. I had fun and was enjoying the things that happened in Los Angeles when Bryan interrupts Kim and her boyfriend, or Bryan talking to Lenore about her marriage going down the drain. I liked that side of him.
S: I don’t know, I thought that stuff was just okay. I felt like they were trying to shoehorn in a back story and it was very obvious what they were doing. I still didn’t have any vested interest in Lenore or anything like that.
A: I did because of the first one. Obviously I knew where this one was going because of the trailers and stuff…
S: To answer your question, no, I don’t really have anything else good to say about this one. I thought Neeson looked really tired throughout the whole movie.
A: Well the man is in his sixties!
S: I know! He did not look good! He needs to stop doing stuff like this! (Laughs)
A: No he doesn’t, he’s awesome at stuff like this! He still kicks ass in the movie. It’s just that there’s probably about five to ten minutes that could have been cut out of this movie to make it trimmer, and we still would have gotten the point.
S: Overall, this movie just wasn’t good. I don’t know, it’s making me depressed. I’ll let you give our final verdict.
A: Overall I’d say…the main players involved do fine with what they had to do, but the script and storyline absolutely fails them. And in that vein, if you’re a fan of Taken, like if you LOVE the first one, do NOT see this whatsoever. Don’t even acknowledge that it exists. Just remember Taken for how awesome it is and leave it at that. I say skip it.
S: Well…it wasn’t bad enough for me to say skip it all together because it was still just an action movie. So if you’re in the mood for a cheap action flick, then I’d check it out once it’s on DVD.
FINAL VERDICT: Netflix it!
|(Individual Scores - S: 2/5 A: 2/5)|