After an escapade in which a hard as nails, personal security specialist (Liam Neeson) rescued his daughter from European based people traffickers (see Taken), said specialist takes his family on a getaway to Istanbul only to find the family of said traffickers have sworn revenge, so finds himself having to protect his people and run down the bad guys at the same time.
Luc Besson is the undisputed king of low-rent but cinema worthy actioners. In his role of writer and producer he has brought us such middling treats as Lockout, Kiss of the Dragon, From Paris With Love, District 13 and many, many more, but from time to time, seemingly without rhyme or reason, he’ll pull out a bit of pop-culture hit, such as The Transporter and the original Taken.
Taken, being released in Britain and Europe ahead of time, developed a bit of a cult following in The States and Canada from its trailer alone; a fantastic pitch that revolved around Liam Neeson’s phone conveyed declaration of violence and death in the pursuit of his kidnapped daughter. The film, shallow and daft as the majority of Besson productions, under the directorial guidance of Pierre Morel, lived up to the trailer and revelled in Neeson’s breaking heads and shooting folk down in wild, morally black and white abandon. It was simple, old fashioned and with the spirit that fanboys have always kind of hoped a Punisher film might have.
At the helm of Taken 2, for reasons only apparent to himself, is Besson’s current director of choice, Olivier Megaton, whose style is showy but choppy and renders the narratives and action unfocused, as was evident from his previous productions, The Transporter 3, an effort that ran the fun franchise into the ground, and Columiana, a film of unmemorable vagueness; all trademarks that he has wantonly brought with him to dash anything that might have been enjoyable about Taken 2.
The story is as slim as a slim action film can get, populated by two-dimensional characters with two-dimensional motivations portrayed by actors inhabiting the very definition of ‘phoning it in’, though, they can hardly be blamed for that, Brando and Daniel Day Lewis, on their best, most method days could hardly extract something from the script that could be mistaken for good.
But so what, right? That’s not why you’re going to see Taken 2. No, you’re going to see Taken 2 to watch a badass kick some tail… Well, that’s where the makers have made their most unforgivable errors. In a greedy attempt to bring down the rating and get more bums in seats, the hard edge that brought Taken to prominence has been savagely removed from its sequel via horrendous editing. It was clearly meant to be violent, but on top of Megaton’s penchant for throwing the camera all over the place, almost missing what’s going down within the choreography, the killing blows have been hacked altogether, so you’re like “Huh? Neeson barely touched that dudes face, how come he’s dead?”.
It’s not harsh to say that Taken 2 is inferior to the average Dolph Lundgren, straight to DVD, Eastern European shot, low-budgeter because they don’t bring with them a sense of anticipation. The key players seem to be under the impression that we actually care about these weakly rendered characters, bringing their family affairs to the forefront. We don’t care about them! I personally don’t care about them so much that despite having watched the original Taken several times and just having watched 2 last night, I literally don’t remember any of the character’s names.
I feel I put most concisely in a Facebook update on the subject immediately after the screening, that read “Watching Taken was fun, like watching a big retarded kid rage out and kick the shit out of some bullies, by comparison Taken 2 is like watching his more retarded brother sitting in a wheelchair, crying… no fun at all.”
Those who regularly read my reviews will know that I usually refrain from such unevenly negative and personal opinionating, but when all that’s required of a film is a semblance stability and some severe ass-kicking to fulfil its purpose, then for the key players to misjudge even that is an unforgivable waste of our time.
If you’re really in the mood for a violent action-adventure then dear God, spend your money on Dredd, it sure as hell deserves it more.
C- grade – for storytelling
C grade – for action
D grade – for editing
C- grade – for acting
Overall grade – D+