He found them. He killed them. Wouldn’t it have been of benefit to us all had he just left it there? Alas, Liam Neeson returns as Bryan Mills in the follow-up to the brilliant action thriller Taken, in Olivier Megaton’s astutely named Taken 2.
Bryan had killed a host of people when vying to retrieve his daughter from the hands of Albanian gangsters on the streets of Paris, and now the surviving family members and accomplices of those murdered are seeking revenge, as they track down the retired CIA operative, who is away in Turkey with his ex-wife Lenore (Famke Janssen) and daughter Kim (Maggie Grace).
Led by grieving father Murad (Rade Serbedzija), the mobsters manage to take Bryan and Lenore, keeping them hostage in a murky basement. Bryan entrusts Kim with rescuing her parents before they are killed, as the horrors from a few years previous have come back to haunt this unfortunate family – this time the tables turned as Kim must save her father. With limited and sporadic access to a mobile phone, Bryan has to be succinct with his instructions as havoc is caused and blood is spilled on the streets of Istanbul.
Before I begin my tirade of recrimination upon this lacklustre feature film, it is worth noting I really enjoyed the first, but sadly Luc Besson has returned with a script that is far inferior to his previous effort. There is just no intensity in Taken 2, you don’t feel threatened or tense at any point, whilst our disdain towards the villains is underplayed, which takes away any satisfaction and pleasure of seeing them killed off – one of more enjoyable aspects to the first movie.
The script is below-par and unoriginal, whilst a series of small yet infuriating, implausible inconsistencies clog up this picture. For starters, you can’t just walk around Turkey throwing grenades around willy-nilly. This is the present-day for crying out loud. However, Taken 2 suffers mostly due to its change of certificate to the more accessible 12A, in order to cater to a wider audience. I mean, which 12-year-olds want to see Taken 2? When the first film came out they would have been at primary school. When I was 12 I collected stickers.
It simply defeats the entire point to the franchise, taking away the violent action that made the first film so successful. People just want to see Neeson beating the crap out of whatever gets in his way. It’s as though those behind the decision to change certificates don’t actually understand the film, and refuse to recognise its unique selling point. Instead we’ve got a fun day out for all the family.
The film is also compromised by the feeling that it has evidently been shot as a higher certificate, and therefore had to be shoddily edited to suit its new rating. You can see the exact points where they have cut footage, as some deaths – including the relatively important ones – require you to lean over and whisper into your friend’s ear to ask “Is he dead then?” The sound is also terrible with a notable absence of bone-crunching. We need more bone-crunching. Bone-crunching is good.
In a sense I actually feel sorry for Neeson and co. as this doesn’t appear to be the film they had initially signed up for. It’s being held back by its rating which is unfair, and I don’t feel we’ve seen the film Megaton had intended us to see. However this cannot be offered as the sole excuse as to why this film hasn’t worked, as there are various factors at play. There is one point where Neeson mutters the line “I’m tired of this”. Well aren’t we all Liam, aren’t we all.