Viewed – 08 October 2012 Cinema
2008’s Taken was one of the best thrillers I had seen in years. Liam Neeson completely nailed it as a hard-as-nails CIA agent out to rescue his daughter from a sex-slavery-ring in France. It was tough, violent and very cool. It turned Neeson overnight into an action hero. So let’s not be too shocked that they’ve gone and knocked out a sequel.
Neeson reprises his role as tough CIA agent Bryan Mills who invites his estranged wife (but they’re on good terms these days) and his daughter to Istanbul where he is going to work on a routine security job. Only one problem: the men he killed in Taken, well their family, especially their mob boss father are out for revenge, and soon track Neeson down with the very intention of taking him and his family. Of course, Neeson has other ideas.
This follow-up doesn’t lack thrills or exotic locales and has some decent action (a roof top chase, various gunfights, fist fights, a frantic car chase etc) but with a more family-friendly rating – the whole movie lacks that ‘bite’ the first one had in spades. All the violence is toned down in such a way I almost felt I was watching a badly censored TV version, with some deaths ending up looking bizarre and unfinished without the expected ‘snap’ or splash of blood. Thankfully Neeson is still good as Mills, calculated, efficient and can deliver even the stupidest lines with vigour (when a dog has a bone the last thing you want to do is take it from him). Also this time around Maggie Grace has been given a much bigger role and equits herself well, even if she is still a bit annoying. Famke Janssen, usually good in other movies (the X-Men trilogy) is wasted here like she was in the first film. Also for villainous fodder, Rade Serbedzija (Snatch, Mission Impossible 3) does his usual Rusky gangster thing he’s been doing for years … yawn.
So this does have some good ideas and moments that work well (how Neeson gets his gun back after being kidnapped for example) but along with sloppy direction and a lacking script, with an approach that aims at the wrong audience – this obvious cash-cow sequel just does too many things wrong to make me recommend it.
Stick with the original.
Verdict: 2 /5