Reviews

Taken 2

2

Liam Neeson, action man returns for a sequel

Liam Neeson was as surprised as anyone when 2008’s Taken turned him from elder statesman into senior-citizen action man.

Yet he is certainly getting used to the idea, having followed The A-Team, Unknown and this year’s The Grey with another jaunt for Bryan Mills, the resourceful ex-agent with the particular set of skills.

Released in the US at the onset of Obama’s presidency, the original Taken clearly owed its paranoia, isolationism and rabid xenophobia to his White House predecessor.

Things aren’t so reactionary this time around, Bryan having gone from a man prone to shooting sheikhs in the head to one happy enough to be a bodyguard to one if the price is right.

He appears to have mellowed on the home front too, having reconciled with estranged ex-wife Lenore (Famke Janssen) and bonded afresh with the daughter he liberated four years ago.

Thankfully, producer Luc Besson and directorial protégé Olivier Megaton realise we haven’t come to see Neeson give Maggie Grace’s preposterously virginal Kim driving lessons or her boyfriend a hard time.

We’ve come to watch him kick ass, something Liam finally gets around to about 30 minutes in when the vengeful dad of one of those Balkan heavies (Rade Sherbedgia) visits him Istanbul.

The twist here is Bryan gets “taken”, a state of affairs that lasts as long as it takes Kim to stop her mewling, grow a pair and help him escape.

(This leads to the film’s most ingenious set-piece, involving a map, a shoelace and grenades whose detonations allow our hero to ascertain his location.)

From then on it’s Bourne-style business as usual, with Bryan taking to the city’s cobbled streets, gabled rooftops and busy bazaars in his attempts to dodge the gangsters on his trail and prise Lenore from their grubby clutches.

Business as usual? Not quite.

Taken earned a 15 rating for its ‘strong violence and scene of torture’, bumped up to an 18 on DVD after adding yet more nastiness to the latter.

Taken 2 gets a palatable 12A certificate that mirrors its milder vein of mayhem and paucity of bloodshed, injury and sadism.

Bullets enter walls rather than flesh, blades are brandished instead of utilised, while a supposedly life-threatening slash to Janssen’s neck is left to the imagination.

Even the Turkish bath showdown with Sherbedgia’s chief goon (Alain Figlarz) is resolved in a jiffy.

Should this matter? Probably not.

But it still rankles (especially as there will no doubt be a tougher edit made available somewhere down the line).

It also detracts from the tension, as it’s plain this bunch of scumbags have neither the wit nor will to pose any serious threat to Bryan’s reconstructed family unit.

At one point, the bent Parisian cop from the first film (Olivier Rabourdin) is compelled to reveal Bryan’s whereabouts by a thug wielding a teddy bear.

Taken 2? The only place this film has been taken to is the cutting room.

The brilliantly monikered Megaton is on safer ground during an extended car chase that makes a virtue of Istanbul’s cramped and cluttered thoroughfares while proving it never pays to play chicken with a freight train.

Bond fans, meanwhile, should get a kick out of Bryan’s artillery-stuffed luggage, not to mention landmarks we’ll be viewing again soon in Skyfall.

Turkey’s historic architecture, of course, has nothing on Neeson’s countenance, a physiognomy so craggy you half expect there to be lichen growing out of his wrinkles.

A pity, though, he is not afforded a monologue to match the first film’s “I will find you and I will kill you” speech, or that he is made to precede the last reckoning with a world-weary plea to let bygones be bygones.

Sherbedgia’s Murad winds up getting the best dialogue, declaring at his son’s burial  that “Ve will haf our rewenge!” and tellin Bryan he dispatched all his underlings “like they ver so many nuthinks”.

For the most part, alas, the erstwhile 24 star is a two-dimensional villain in a film that struggles at times to be even that multi-faceted.

Taken was no masterpiece and was often thoroughly objectionable. But it still had a drive and a sense of urgency that’s absent here, for all Besson and Robert Mark Kamen’s strivings to inject a ticking-clock, real-time element into their co-authored script.

Taken 2 succeeds as an efficient outing for its lead’s grimly relentless brand of virile, dogged fortitude. You only wish it made better use of the particular set of skills he has acquired over a very long career, skills that make him anything but a nightmare for people like us.

Verdict:

"What are you going to do?” wails Maggie. “What I do best!” growls Liam. Yet while it’s fun to watch him take out the Eurotrash, we’ve seen him do it better.

Film Details

User Reviews

    • AlfredsDream098

      Sep 19th 2012, 6:19

      g*****n, I knew that bloody 12A would affect the movie. Was thinking about seeing this, not so sure now.

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    • Hadouken76

      Sep 19th 2012, 7:37

      F/F/S 12A is the fun police. STOP MAKING MOVIES FOR BRATS.

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    • TheShamrock

      Sep 19th 2012, 11:43

      Oh dear. I was very scpetical about this when I heard about a sequel anyway as the first is great as a stand-alone film but after reading this, I fear I will only be more disappointed than I originally thought. The first film was great for its brutal action, Neeson's lack of care and compassion for anyone who stood in his way and it came across how much he cared for his daughter. The action gainst the seedy underbelly of trafficking gave it a dark, realistic feel. The 12A rating on this suggests we won't see any of these things in the sequel and will be run of the mill.

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    • Shiftybea

      Sep 19th 2012, 12:20

      endofdays wrote- 'The whole thing about it being made for a 12A audience doesn't bother me,' It wasn't made for a 12A audience, though, it was edited for it which is why people are annoyed. We should be able to see the film as the director intended instead of it getting sliced and diced so the distributor can make more cash. And of all the films for that to happen, the sequel to the 15/18 rated Taken is an odd choice. It's not a new occurrence, though, obviously. The 18 rated Young Guns had a 12 rated sequel......

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    • Hadouken76

      Sep 19th 2012, 14:15

      Not to mention all the Die Hards that have become increasingly child-friendly. In the last one Mclane couldn't even say HIS OWN CATCHPHRASE! As well the phony Total Recall remake. Both were directed by Hollywoods resident D-list director Hack specialist Len Wiseman.

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    • thechief90

      Sep 19th 2012, 14:42

      Just one little note for the reviewer. Albanians, which are the main bad guys, are not a Slavic nation. Thank You for indirectly saying "all you Balkan people are same worthless scum so why would we even bother distinguishing you".

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    • Siban1982

      Sep 19th 2012, 15:19

      As far as I remember, Total Film gave the first one 2 out of 5 stars so I'll definitely go and catch this at the cinema. Shame it's 12A, here's hoping there's a directors cut!

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    • Hadouken76

      Sep 19th 2012, 16:02

      If The Raid remake is a PG-13, there will be a machetes at dawn..

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    • lukeworm100

      Sep 19th 2012, 18:32

      Saw that rating coming, not only does it look a bit too carbon copy of the original but as soon as the 12A certificate surfaced you knew it wasn't going to be nearly the same.

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    • FBJRider

      Sep 22nd 2012, 13:28

      Well you were kind of putting me off seeing this until you mentioned how Taken wasn't a masterpiece, it wasn't perfect but it was pretty much a masterpiece of it's genre. So I'll give this one a try, I suppose as with the first one, I'm looking forward to the DVD release more than the theatrical release. Hopefully the DVD will get at the very least a 15.

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    • FBDBullock

      Sep 23rd 2012, 14:58

      This review is pretty spot on and ours is 2 stars as well over on @thncom! Basically, this takes ages to build up, tried to build an emotion backbone and then has some seriously dodgy editing going on. I love Taken but this, very disappointing follow up.

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    • cjdavies

      Sep 26th 2012, 15:13

      The first thing that caught my was the 12A rating, I had to look my DVD to check and it's 18, that is one hell of a drop, lets hope it's not a disappointed just to get kids to watch it.

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    • wibble

      Sep 29th 2012, 16:13

      The closest this movie got to the action of the first one is when I told the chatterboxes sat the other side of my wife to shush. TF spot on with the 2 stars. Too bad; I'd had high hopes and really hoped they were wrong.

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    • noone

      Sep 30th 2012, 11:35

      What made the first movie objectionable? That some shiekh is treating women like property? OH NO!!! Heaven forbid that movies ever in any way mirror reality if it causes offense to somebody!! So totally objectionable. Or were you sympathizing with the human traffickers who were getting killed and tortured?

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    • themoviehunger

      Sep 30th 2012, 14:45

      I love Taken... but we found reasons why not to watch Taken 2... http://www.moviehunger.com/8-reasons-why-you-shouldnt-see-taken-2/

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    • ashleybeeching

      Oct 4th 2012, 16:10

      Dredd was the only film with balls this year!

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    • LSJShez

      Oct 4th 2012, 20:51

      I've just watched it. It's not that bad. Not as good as the first, but fun enough. I'm sure I'll double bill em one day.

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    • mabel

      Oct 6th 2012, 18:52

      5

      Very Good movie =)))

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    • Fredthehead

      Oct 8th 2012, 12:20

      1

      Just utterly ridiculous! After recently being abducted and sold as a sex slave by Albanian gangsters what better way of reuniting the family than a city break in Istambul. The baddies of course drive across to seek revenge ( over 1000 miles ). How come I cannot find my wife in the local Tesco but Neeson can locate his daughter in a city with a population of over 13 million in under 10 minutes! I guess it’s that ” special skill set “. Favorite part – The hotel cleaner getting upset with some clothes going missing whilst numerous guests and security men are being brutally murdered , think of the cleaning up! Missed opportunity – During the explanation as to why Mills’ wife was about to be tortured and sent home ” piece by piece ” she never thought of saying ” EX HUSBAND !!!!!!!!!!!!!” On a serious note , not sure how this passes as a 12A, even though it is a watered down version of the first film the violence is at times explicit and brutal, perhaps the lack of expletives makes everything cosy.

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    • andrewmoores79

      Oct 19th 2012, 12:20

      A film that should never have been made and the fact that it has made millions and, I'm guessing more than Looper, is tragic. Hollywood is a business and we, the public, drive the market. If people keep going to watch cynical, money-making remakes and sequels like Taken 2 then they will continue to be made. I refuse to watch this on principle, in the same way as I vowed never to watch another Pirates of the Caribbean film after wasting two hours of my life watching the second one. Don't ever complain about the films Hollywood makes if you have spent money on this movie.

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    • oliviawilliams

      Oct 21st 2012, 20:25

      this film is possibly THE worst film i've ever seen. everything that happens is so predictable and the story line is boring. i feel asleep whilst watching this flm and i would strongly advise no-one to waste a lot of money on such a horrific film. i honestly think people who said it was good did not watch the same film as i did! there was NO mystery and NO suspense and the entire film was absolutely rubbish. N O - O N E G O A N D W A T C H I T .

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    • joequigley99

      Oct 22nd 2012, 15:45

      Pathetic. It should have been 'taken 2' the edge of a cliff and dropped off. More holes in the script than in the wall those nasty nasty Albanians shot up near the end of the film. Not only roy rodgers pistols but we had roy rodgers mercs as well! Despite shoving half of the Turkish police cars into walls & other cars and then gate crashing the US Embassy compound the Merc didn't have a scratch, apart from a few badly painted on bullet holes. By God, those krauts sure know how to build 'em! - unlike the film producers. Still, it should have given a bit of a boost for any terrorist thinking of crashing a car into a US embassy, it's easy peasy according to this script from the muppets. Nice the way that you can blow up half of Istanbul with the grenades you just happen to have lying around then run a couple of machine guns (yup, they were roy rodges machine guns as well) at full throttle for 5 minutes without the local police never seeming to come around. Maybe they sent for the cavalry. I never realised Liam Neeson needed the cash so badly, he'll probably be joining his mate Brad for a smelly ad before the end of the year. Still, it's my own fault, I should have realised from the 95% of empty seats in my local cinema on a Saturday night meant that the other missing punters had read the reviews.

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    • samtebow

      Oct 28th 2012, 18:16

      as Ray said I didnt know that some people are able to make $7575 in one month on the internet. did you look at this link...bit.ly\X24LHP

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