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Oct 06

Taken 2 – Movie Review

“I don’t know who you are. I don’t know what you want. If you are looking for ransom, I can tell you I don’t have money. But what I do have are a very particular set of skills; skills I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you. If you let my daughter go now, that’ll be the end of it. I will not look for you, I will not pursue you. But if you don’t, I will look for you, I will find you, and I will kill you….”

For anyone who doesn’t know, these now unforgettable words come from Taken; the surprise hit action movie of 2008, a film which saw Liam Neeson; an established actor in his own right become one of the most proficient killing machines and not to mention professional throat puncher since Bourne. What set this film apart from other action movies? Well a number of reasons, it was impeccably acted, superbly directed and (bar one or two questionable scenes) had an incredible screenplay. What’s more it had heart, it was hard not to feel for Liam Neeson’s character the humble, yet deadly Brian Mills in his struggle to rescue his daughter. If you haven’t seen Taken then I highly recommend you do so now.

Taken 2 sees Liam Neeson once again become Brian Mills, however this time the key motivation is simple revenge. Mills finds himself being hunted by Murad (played well by Rade Serbedzija) the father of one of the kidnappers he tortured and killed in the first film. He has sworn revenge on behalf of the families whom Mills destroyed in his attempt to get his daughter back and takes Bryan and his wife hostage during their vacation in Istanbul. Thus the scene is set for more fights against the clock as time for Mills and his estranged wife runs out.

Things start nicely enough, at the beginning we are introduced to teen issues and daughter Kim, we see Mills ‘subtle’ reactions to his daughter having a boyfriend which can only mean one thing. At the same time his ex-wife, Lenore (played by the lovely Famke Janssen who never seems to age at all) is recently separated from her husband and there are hints of a possible reconciliation between her and Brian. However it isn’t too long before there is trouble and Mills ends up using those ‘unique special skills’ he talked about and his daughter Kim (played well by Maggie Grace) has to learn new skills of her own to help her dad.

This all sounds very good and believe me it is. However there are a couple of shortcomings – new director Olivier Megaton just isn’t as snappy on the editing as his predecessor Pierre Morel was. It is nearly 30 minutes in before we see anything in the way of ‘real’ action. Then there is of the absurd choice to make this film a 12A certificate – a choice, that to be honest baffles me. Taken earned a 15 rating for its ‘strong violence and scenes of torture’ so why would you choose to limit yourself by a 12A? What this means is that bullets enter walls rather than flesh, blades are brandished instead of utilised, while a supposedly life-threatening slash to Janssen’s neck is left to the imagination. By and large fight sequences have ‘just’ lost their spark and the shaky cam used in fights was just a plain bad idea. All of these issues just detract from what the film should have been.

On the plus side there is some really good car chases especially a good one from Kim who is about to sit her driving test and ingenious set-piece, involving a map, a shoelace and grenades whose detonations allow our Mills to ascertain his location. Yes he still has the grey matter.

The Verdict

Taken 2 was always going to be a predictable film, firstly for the context and then secondly because purely and simply the first film was so damn good. A common question between myself and my friends was ‘how on earth are they going to improve upon the first film?’ it would simply be too hard to supersede the original in terms of memorable scenes. To a certain extent this film doesn’t even try; of course there’s hairy situations that the family barely get through, big explosions and great action sequences and like the first film this one tries to mix all out action against a backdrop of family relationship issues. But whilst it is good, it is not great, whilst it is still a must-see, it does not come across as legendary as its predecessor. What it does accomplish is being a satisfactory conclusion to a remarkable story.

8 out of 10