I don’t quite recall exactly when I saw Taken for the first time, but I’m not ashamed to admit that it’s among my favorite action flicks of all time. It’s reminiscent of Schwarzenegger’s 1980′s, revenge-laden Commando, but far better. I highly recommend it if you’re into watching bloodthirsty Europeans unleash 90 minutes worth of torment on totally hatable criminals.
A friend and I just returned from seeing the sequel, Taken 2 -like, in an actual movie theater, which is something I almost never do for a variety of reasons-and I have some thoughts on it.
First, one of those qualifying statements I’m famous for among my friends:
I’m not a movie anything. I don’t watch many movies and the vast majority of the modern movies I watch tend to sort of bore me (or worse).
Oh, and if you haven’t seen Taken or Taken 2 yet and are planning to see them, there will be spoilers below so maybe don’t read this now.
More so than its predecessor, Taken 2‘s plot is little more than a vehicle for Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) beating the hell out of a large number of people. I didn’t go to see this movie because I expected a compelling narrative. I wanted some action (which we’ll discuss in a second).
The plot, in a nutshell, is that Bryan killed a bunch of Albanian human traffickers who had kidnapped his daughter, Kim, in the original Taken and now the family of one of said Albanians is looking to exact a bit of revenge on old Bryan.
I do, despite that earlier paragraph, want to address what I felt were some pretty lame plot points in Taken 2:
- The story seemed to stutter a bit around the redemptive events. The dramatic rescue of Kim (Mills’ daughter) in the middle of the story felt very premature and totally overshadowed the dramatic rescue of Lenore (Mills’ ex-wife).
- Given how cold and unforgiving Lenore acted in the original, her rediscovered affection for Bryan feels goofy, even in light of his heroic rescue of Kim in Taken.
- Right before Bryan aces the “Bowser” of this movie, there’s an annoyingly obvious open parenthesis regarding Bowser’s sons who, as he plainly said seconds before getting his ticket punched, would certainly seek revenge against Bryan. Look out for Taken 3 sometime soon. Feh.
The dialog in action movies is generally pretty awful. Taken was, if you ask my uneducated derrier, an exception. The dialog wasn’t awesome, but it didn’t suck either.
Taken 2 is a different story. As with the annoying unclosed thread regarding Bowser’s sons, this movie is lousy with obvious and contrived throwbacks to Taken and they sound stupid.
Probably my least favorite part was when Bryan gives Lenore an impossibly long list of steps to take toward escape, which she-at the end of a car chase wherein she is pursued by murderous thugs-manages to remember while I-sitting pudgily in my theater seat-could not. And I wasn’t even in danger.
This is what puts the asses in the seats. Its certainly what put mine in mine.
First, you can tell that Liam ain’t the spring chicken he used to be. As I type this, he’s 60 years old. He looks it in Taken 2. Not that he’s not a terribly handsome bloke and all that, but watching him fight was a lot like, well, watching a 60-year-old fight.
- The cameras, for most of the close-quarters combat involving Neeson (which was pretty much all of it) were close enough as to be within blood spatter range. It was hard to get an idea what was happening, other than that blows were being exchanged and guns deflected. Knives were also involved, somehow.
- On at least two occasions, Bryan dirt-naps some guy and you have literally no clue how he did it. One second something’s happening, the next minute the guy’s toast. UPDATE: Upon further reflection, the logical reason for this might be that certain gruesome death strokes were edited out so the movie could wear the PG-13 rating. Just a guess, though.
- Whenever the sequel to a popular movie is released, my brain automatically imagines some Hollywood fat cat physically wringing out a branded hand towel that magically emits cash. Sequels, in my cynical brain, are about dough more than anything else. Taken 2 felt sorta-but not completely-like that.
- Goodness me, that Famke Jannsen is quite the looker.
- What made Taken so great was how emotionally driven Bryan was to save the kidnapped Kim. You could see it in his frickin’ eyes. It was one of the only believable facets of an unbelievable story and another thing noticeably absent in Taken 2.
Actually, I didn’t hate it
I know this sounds like a litany of complaints that would culminate in my saying “it was a big turd – skip it.” I don’t think that, to tell you the truth.
I actually enjoyed it, aside from what I’ve mentioned here. It didn’t hold a candle to Taken and probably won’t be something I re-watch-at least, not as many times as I’ve seen the original-but it was alright.
That’s all, though: just “alright”.