Taken 2 is sequel to financial success Taken from 2008. it came as a surprise not only to critics, who were divided, but also to its star Liam Neeson. Little did Neeson know, as he was donning the black trench coat, he was inadvertently re-launching himself as an action hero – at the grand age of 56.
So why were critics divided? Well, with a plot so thin it seemed barely indistinguishable from years of Hollywood action tripe. Racist in its premise (how many American gap year students end up being kidnapped for the sex trade in suburban Paris?) and a clunky script. Taken seemed destined for the bargain bin. Yet it wasn’t…
Neeson’s portrayal of paranoid father, Bryan Mills, armed with deadly skills and a penchant for torture, appealed to dads across the world and coupled with gleeful bone crunching action, its ferocity meant that it became a modern day exploitation movie.
But If there’s one thing Hollywood loves to do, it is cash in on previous success. It is almost a surprise it has taken so long for a sequel, but with Neeson now a middle-aged action hero, his schedule has been pretty full in recent years. Taken 2 works on the premise that Mill’s actions in the first film are not without consequence and the families of those he so brutally discharged in the original are hell bent on revenge.
So Director Olivier Megaton is back and this time it’s personal. They say if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it and that is exactly Taken 2’s attitude. Mills is still as psychotically obsessed with his daughter’s safety to the point of perversion and there are plot holes so large script writing students could queue up to admire their Grand Canyon-like vastness, not that this spoils the fun.
What makes it worse though is that Taken 2 has been stripped of the gleeful gruesomeness of its predecessor. When the main reason an audience has paid money to see a film is to see people being maimed, it takes far too long before the action starts. Just fast forward to the part where body parts start to fly and get on with it!
Except Taken 2 never reaches the level of carnal pleasure it promises. In what can only be described as a cold calculating move, the producers pushed for a PG-13 cinematic release and even made cuts to satisfy the BBFC for a 12A rating in the UK. This is a clear indication that not only do the producers not understand the appeal of the original but it highlights the fact this is a clear money-making vehicle content with cashing in on the brand.
Without violence to satisfy the audience’s blood thirst, Taken 2’s flaws become only too obvious when compared to a film like The Raid. Whereas, The Raid is high octane, cringe inducing, violent thrill like Taken. Taken 2 feels held back by its script and rating.
Despite its flaws though, Taken 2 is still a good looking film. The glamour of Istanbul’s hotels juxtaposed with shanty roof top and side street car chases. But all the posturing and cinematic verve in the world could make up for a film which treats its own audience with so much neglect. The audience came to see X-rated action but left wondering why they didn’t get it one? Taken 2 isn’t a bad movie though, it is a decent popcorn-flick providing some mindless action when it gets going. It just missed the point as to why the original Taken was such a success with the audience.