Taken 2 (2012) Directed by Olivier Megaton. With Liam Neeson, Famke Janssen and Maggie Grace.
It could be argued that Taken 2 is a film about Liam Neeson teaching his daughter how to drive a car. That said, a film about Liam Neeson laying parking cones would probably be worth a watch. There was something undeniably cool about the ‘particular set of skills’ speech, that Neeson gave in the first film. Right there and then, something seismic happened; a new action career was born.
There’s no question that Taken takes its cues from the Jason Bourne series. On the surface, Neeson’s retired CIA operative, Bryan Mills, is a straight-laced guy with emotional problems. We know he loves his family, but his drive and obsession with work has kept them at arms length. In ‘2’ he’s still the same paranoid android we know and love, but this time around, his wife (Famke Janssen) doesn’t hate him quite as much. As you might imagine, stuff happens in the first 30mins that requires Neeson to once again, call on those “particular set of skills”…there – I’ve said it twice now.
The thing is, with a sleeper hit like Taken, there’s only one first time. Unless the director and writers are committed to staying true to character above concept, it’s a safe bet a sequel like this is going to try to bottle lightning, in an attempt to serve you the same experience all over again. And so it comes to be. Aside from an air of predictability around the entire thing, Taken 2 is often flat out ridiculous. The sight of Neeson’s daughter (Maggie Grace) turning action heroine, in some wildly over-the-top set-pieces involving rooftop chases, hand grenades and Colt Seavers-esque stunt driving, is frankly stupid.
While it’s true that Neeson has the chops for these sort of roles, it only takes a mediocre effort like this for the act to start wearing thin. That said, given the huge box office numbers that Taken and Taken 2 have amassed, there will be more to come. 2/5