Release Date: 4th October, 2012
Director: Olivier Megaton
Starring: Liam Neeson, Famke Janssen, Maggie Grace
Before this review gets under way, I would like to straighten something out: Taken was not a good film. Sadistically enjoyable, yes: but to equate ‘enjoyable’ with ‘good’ is to miss the point entirely. It was awkwardly written, completely ludicrous, full to the brim with offensive stereotypes and positively dripping in xenophobia. There was a reason why many high profile publications absolutely slated it. Despite this, it did pretty well at the box office and even better on DVD, where it was released uncut and with an 18 rating. This is where the film really thrived; releasing it as an 18 ‘elevated’ it from racist nonsense to OTT brutal madness. You felt bad for enjoying it, but seeing Oskar Schindler snap necks at a rate of knots was just too sublimely ridiculous. As a result, I was (not that) secretly looking forward to the sequel. However when the news came out that it was going to be a 12A, I started to dread it. And with good reason: Taken 2 is pretty damn abysmal.
The plot follows on from the original in the most uninspiring way imaginable: the family of one of the thousands of faceless blokes that Bryan Mills (Neeson) brutally murdered are now wanting revenge. Back in the good ol’ US of A, Bryan’s daughter Kim (Grace) has a new boyfriend, which he is not too pleased about, and his ex Lenore (Janssen) has split up with her husband from the first film. In a desperate bid to get back into Famke Janssen’s pants, Mills invites her and Kim to come visit him in Istanbul while he’s working, which turns out to be another city full of really bad people. In a totally unexpected and shocking plot twist, it’s Bryan that gets ‘taken’ this time round, along with Kim’s mother Lenore. And then… nothing, really. There is a lot of shooting, and far too much of Liam Neeson telling people what to do whilst angrily growling into his mobile phone.
The bad guys in Taken 2 are even more hastily sketched than the faceless Albanians of the original. The main baddie is the father of the guy that gets electrocuted in a chair in one of Taken’s most tasteless (if hilarious) scenes. The opening sequence sees them burying their dead, wishing ‘death to the pig-dog American’ or something equally tedious and stereotypical. Then somehow they get from Albania to Turkey by car, in a kind of prolonged evil road trip. When they eventually manage to kidnap Bryan, they’re so shoddy at being evil that it only takes about 10 minutes for him to escape. What follows is an uninspiring 40 minutes, where Liam Neeson shoots a lot of people, and his daughter drives around in a poorly shot shaky cam car chase.
The whole thing isn’t exactly helped by its main protagonist, who remains equal parts hilarious, ridiculous and down-right abominable. When he first appears he is furiously cleaning his car; it appears that everything this man does is imbued with uncontrollable anger. Following this, he spies on Kim while she indulges in some foreplay with her new boyfriend, and we learn that he has planted a GPS device in her phone so that he can track her at all times. This all happens within the first ten minutes: the man is a psychopath. It’s alright though, because he’s just looking out for his daughter, right? Right.
The film is also riddled with many other very basic problems. The action is uninspired and sloppy; most of the violence has clearly been cut out at the last minute, which screams of a directors cut when the DVD finally gets released. The script is never anything other than functional, and even then some of the lines are so corny that it’ll make you cringe. The entire thing just feels lazy, churned out and very cynical. There’s some fun to be had in Taken 2, but in the end any and all enjoyment stems from how bad it is, rather than from any reasonable merit. If its opening weekend is anything to go by, then this will most likely get another sequel. Luc Besson, if this happens, then you know that I will find you… and I will kill you.