Taken 2 (2012)
Taken 2 (no, Taken Again, or The Retakening?) follows the all-too familiar path for action movies when sequel digits get added to titles. They attempt to redo the original premise, but bigger and better, but rarely does it succeed unless there’s a fresh take. Taken 2 is reheated leftovers. The first film was a pleasurably surprising action film, led by a steely performance from Liam Neeson. Now Bryan Mills and his family are vacationing in Istanbul and they all get taken… again (or retakened). But what really kills this movie, besides the compilation of genre clichés, is that these are the dumbest bad guys I’ve seen in some time. If I were hiring these goons I’d want to see where their class rank was at Goon University, or if they actually completed their goon studies. These guys give new meaning to the term incompetent. They don’t search Bryan’s person, they leave him unguarded and alone, and naturally they even poke their heads through bullet holes in the wall, only to be shot in the face. When the bad guys are this inept, it removes all danger. Part of the enjoyment of Taken was watching Bryan work up the food chain to rescue his daughter. Now we just get Neeson too easily taking out the bad guys. The action is a bit too hectic and doesn’t have the same crackle that helped the first film.Then there’s the dumb plot, which is best exemplified by the rooftop grenade sequence. Bryan’s daughter (Maggie Grace) is running across rooftops and just randomly tossing grenades (vacation grenades?), so Bryan can hear the sounds of explosions and note how close she is. Except she never looks where she’s tossing, so she’s indiscriminately tossing live explosive devices on the innocent civilians of Istanbul. If there’s a Taken 3, I think one of these innocent Turkish families should seek vengeance. Oh but there’s more stupidity, like Bryan killing a corrupt Turkish cop and having no ramifications for this whatsoever. It’s never spoken of again. Or Bryan and his daughter crashing through the U.S. embassy’s gates in a car, and two minutes later he’s walking the streets with no hassle. To sum up: Bryan and family murder a police officer, throw grenades into the city streets, and crash into the U.S. embassy.Taken 2 is a classic example of sequel-itis, and while it tries to make you remember the parts you liked in the first film (Neeson on a paternal rampage, his speech), I just kept remembering how much better Taken was the first takening.
Nate’s Grade: C