Taken 2

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


Viewed – 26 Feb 2009  Blu-ray

It’s that rare breed, a film that seems to completely surprise you and take your breath away.  Only a few such films have made me punch the air in such a way, namely Fight Club, Pulp Fiction, Switchblade Romance etc – when everything comes together and it all just works.  This is one such film, and I’ll warn you, this is a very gushy review.

Liam Neeson plays an ex-CIA spy craving quality time with his daughter who he has mostly missed growing up because of his work, causing his marriage to Famke Janssen to fail as a result (shame).  Then when the daughter gets the chance to go to Paris on holiday with a friend, Liam is naturally a little cautious, but chooses to give in for the sake of getting closer to the family he has become estranged from.  Then on Paris trip, daughter is kidnapped, and Liam has to spring into action to save her from disappearing forever.  Using all his ex-spy training he must find who is responsible and make them pay – usually very violently.  Now what makes this so good, is that Liam Neeson plays such an assured, hard-as-nails part that he out Bonds even Daniel Craig in the chiselled out of granite factor, as he takes on seedy gangsters and small time criminals to get answers … breaking faces, cracking skulls and shooting a lot of bad people.

Add to this the harrowing reality of human trafficking and the real-life stories we hear every day of people going missing, this is both a high-octane action movie and a thought provoking reflection of our own messed up world.  With producer Luc Besson also writing this he lends no end of class to the style and the action, whilst at the same time making it look and feel totally real.  Some may find this disturbing, as so they should, but few should disagree that this is one of the best action thrillers in years.

On Blu-ray this is pristine looking with plenty of fine detail, helped greatly by the lush Paris locations.  The DTS Master Audio is also very effective, with plenty of effects, especially during the shoot-outs and car chases.  Extras-wise we get behind the scenes footage, a making of and a bonus view segment that gives you a counter, tracking every person Liam injures or klls during the movie.  Pointless but fun.  So, not packed, but an admirable effort for such a quality movie.

Verdict:  5 /5