Movie review: ‘Taken 2’ clumsy, unnecessary

“Taken” was an exciting movie that really showcased Liam Neeson as a current-day hardcore action star. It surprised audiences and became quite a success. Four years later we now have “Taken 2,” which still has the action, but has lost the surprise factor.

“Taken 2” has Liam Neeson back as Bryan Mills, a tough CIA retiree. This time, he is in Istanbul for his work and brings along his ex-wife Lenore (Famke Janssen) and their daughter Kim (Maggie Grace). They get tracked down by the chief of the Albanian Mafia who is out for revenge because Mills killed his sons back in the first movie. Between being captured and chased after, Mills and his family must get away from the Mafia and survive.

“Taken 2” falls victim to the same problem that other clumsily-made sequels have – adding more of the same components that made the original movie good. Since the phone call scene from the first movie was met with commercial acclaim, there are now three times as many phone call scenes taking up a good chunk of the movie. It also has the same plot structure. If both movies were played next to each other, it would become apparent that both have the same sequence of events at approximately the same time, with exceptions to a few scenes.

There were big problems with the direction of fight scenes. Unlike the first “Taken,” this movie is directed by Olivier Megaton and the major fights are very choppy and lack any fluency. Megaton has directed other action movies such as “Transporter 3” and “Colombiana,” both with the same type of undefined fighting scenes. Instead of letting his actors brawl it out in a solid take, he films the fight scenes move by move numerous times and is left with a messy scene of poor and obvious editing.

Liam Neeson is one of those actors that is likable in any role. He gives 100 percent effort in all of his performances, no matter how bad a movie turns out. He does the best he can with this script, even though his character hasn’t really evolved from the last movie. The same cannot be said for Grace, who plays Neeson’s daughter. Throughout the movie her part is composed of mostly shouting and crying. Grace is over the top with her character, and that gets in the way of the storytelling and believability of her character’s emotions.

Another frustrating aspect of the movie was the music. The songs “A Real Hero” and “Tick of the Clock” are played in the movie — both of which were predominately featured in last year’s hit “Drive” — and any fan of that movie will immediately recognize the songs. It’s hard to believe that the filmmakers could not even get unique music for their movie, and had to use music from a successful movie released less than a year ago.

“Taken 2” lacks originality in every possible aspect. With a script almost identical to its predecessor, it is one of the most unnecessary sequels in recent memory.


Grade: D