Director: Olivier Megaton
Cast: Liam Neeson, Famke Janssen, Maggie Grace
Running Time: 91 minutes
Release Date: October 4th
Ten years ago, you’d have never considered the possibility of Liam Neeson starring in a balls-out action movie. Given the body of work that has come before—namely Schlinder’s List, Nell and Rob Roy—it seems strange that he’s starring in a film that could so easily be straight-to-DVD. It’s true, he has played action roles in the past, Batman Begins, the early ‘90s cult classic Darkman and The Phantom Menace, but never such as this. Everything about Taken 2 screams cashing in.
CIA agent-turned-professional bodyguard Bryan Mills is on a working vacation in Istanbul with his divorced wife (Famke Janssen) and their daughter (Maggie Grace). The Albanian mob, led by Rade Šerbedžija, arrive in Istanbul to kidnap Mills and his family after he wiped them out in the previous film. The plot is threadbare, formulaic and doesn’t stretch the imagination or go any deeper than what’s on the screen.
The first Taken was a hit no-one could have expected. A sequel was inevitable, but it’s a shame that the format wasn’t changed or shifted in some way. From Neeson growling down a phone to wearing a Steven Seagal-esque leather jacket, Olivier Megaton doesn’t stray far from what made Taken a smash with audiences. Therein lies the problem—Taken 2 doesn’t make any attempt to differentiate or change anything about itself. It follows a very slight variation on the original and keeps everything that made it laughable; the fight sequences, the casual racism of casting all bad guys as dark-skinned Albanians and the senseless destruction of a landmark city.
It’s evident throughout that Neeson is phoning in his performance here. The fight scenes seemed tired and uneventful, lacking the original’s harder edge. It could be that Liam Neeson is 60 years old, or that the film was cut to allow for a more accessible rating. Either way, it’s a poor outing. Famke Janssen and Maggie Grace are both non-events and Rade Šerbedžija is more maudlin than hell bent on revenge.
It’s a trashy film from start to finish, but what separates it from, say, The Expendables 2 is that it takes itself so seriously. Luc Bessson’s script is really trying to reach and ally itself with Jason Bourne. Instead, it comes off as unintentionally hilarious. In short, Taken 2 is a bland cash-in that delivers a few crashes and spills—but not much else.