Taken 2

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

After the deaths of Albanian mobsters, the cousins of the criminals whom Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) killed while searching for his daughter, Kim (Maggie Grace), leave Paris, France and return to their hometown of Tropojë, Albania, for the dead men’s funeral. During the ceremony, Murad (Rade Šerbedžija), the employer of the men and father of Marko, whom Bryan killed by electrocution, states that they will find Bryan to avenge the deaths of their loved ones, no matter what the cost.

Kim and her mother Lenore (Famke Janssen), who is currently having relationship problems with her husband, surprise Bryan by joining him on his trip to Istanbul, Turkey where he is having a business vacation after a work assignment for the CIA. While Kim remains at the hotel, Lenore and Bryan are being followed by Murad’s men on the streets of Istanbul, but Bryan suspects a tail. The men capture Lenore, forcing Bryan to surrender, but before he does he calls Kim and warns her about the men, allowing her to escape through the hotel balcony, and she escapes through the rooftops of Istanbul, but Bryan is captured.

Bryan wakes with his hands tied to a pole in a dark room. Using a communications device that he has hidden in his sock, Bryan calls Kim, instructing her to go to the U.S Embassy and tell them what happened, but she begs for a chance to help him and Lenore. Under Bryan’s guidance, she opens up his weaponry suitcase and throws a live grenade out of the window. Bryan uses the time it takes for the sound of the explosion to reach him in order to deduce his location.

He then has her take a gun and two more grenades and travel towards his location via the rooftops, while he frees himself from his restraints and sends steam up a chimney to mark his location. Kim tosses the gun down the chimney and Bryan uses it to escape. Now on the run, they are chased by Murad’s men. They steal a cab and are chased through the streets. Bryan has Kim commandeer the car and while she drives away, he shoots the assailants, escaping.

Bryan later returns to the building but Lenore has already been moved. Leaving Kim at the U.S embassy, he follows the route to Murad’s safehouse he memorized from his abduction. After killing two men, he confronts Murad, who insists that his two remaining sons will seek revenge if Bryan kills him. Murad agrees to call off his vendetta in exchange for Bryan letting him live. Bryan drops his gun and walks away, but Murad seizes it and tries to shoot Bryan only to discover that Bryan has removed the bullets. Knowing that Murad would never abide by a truce, Bryan kills him.

Three weeks later, the Mills family eats at a diner back home to celebrate Kim’s passing her driving test. They are joined, much to Bryan’s surprise, by Kim’s kind boyfriend Jamie, and Kim jokingly asks her overprotective father not to shoot him nor restrain him.

REVIEW:

Somewhere along the way, Liam Neeson went and become a huge action star, and at his age, to boot! Taken 2 further cements its legacy as a go to guy for action films, but does it live up to the hype that preceded it?

What is this about?

Retired special ops agent Bryan Mills and his ex-wife are abducted in Istanbul in a bid to avenge the deaths of his daughter Kim’s kidnappers. This time, it’s Kim who helps to free her parents — unleashing Bryan to turn the tables on his abductors.

What did I like?

Length. Action movies these days seem to forget that they’re audiences are predominantly the kind that aren’t necessarily wanting to see a long, drawn-out, character-driven film. We prefer to get a bit of an intro, then get right down to it. Perhaps that is why, despite what the critics would like, films like The Expendables worked. Aside from being a throwback to the 80s, they skipped all that useless drama and got right to the meat of what we want to see. This film does that, as well, but also had a runtime of just over 90 minutes.

Don’t forget. In case you forgot, Neeson racked up quite the body count in his quest to get his daughter back in the original Taken. Tying the films together, the opening scenes show each one of these men being put in the ground, almost like something you would see in a western. Some people thought this was a bit too much for a PG-13, but I liked it.

Ladies. In the previous film, Jensen and Grace weren’t given much to do. As a matter of fact, Jensen was more of a bitch and Grace was the victim. Somehow, in the time between the two films, things were retconned and Jensen all of a sudden isn’t so hateful towards Neeson’s character and, by the nature of the plot, Grace is no longer the victim, but more of a the hero.

What didn’t I like?

Looks, but not talent. Maggie Grace is a gorgeous young woman but, just like many of her contemporaries in Hollywood today, her acting leaves much to be desired. I don’t know if it is necessarily this script, the way she was directed, her character, or what, but she comes off as having as much life in her as those leaves blowing outside my window right now.

Continuity. In the early scenes, Neeson is teaching Grace how to drive, something typical for a father/daughter. Next thing we know, he tracks her down at her boyfriend’s house so she can have her driving lesson. The tracking aside, as a driver, she isn’t that great. Fast forward to later in the film and she has to drive through Istanbul. How is it she is able to do this, when she couldn’t even parallel park earlier?

Human. A few reviews I’ve read of the latest Die Hard have said that Bruce Willis’ character is almost superhuman these days. In some ways, the same can be said from Neeson. No he doesn’t get blown halfway across town and mange to emerge without a scratch, but some of his feats just defy logic, even for the reality in which this is set in. The fact that this guy was just a normal man with a specific set of skills is what made him endearing to audiences. He can’t just go around doing impossible stunts and keep that mystique.

Null. This is a small thing, but how is it that the people in Turkey don’t notice a hot girl running around in a half-opened button down shirt, tight jeans (somehow she managed to find a pair that fit her perfectly in a men’s locker room), who is armed and throwing grenades all over the place? Is this a normal thing over there?

Taken 2 is a bit of a conundrum for me. On the one hand, it isn’t as good as its predecessor, but I have to wonder if that is because of the high expectations we all had for it, or because it really isn’t that great. Seeing as how I just recently re-watched Taken a couple of weeks ago, I can’t really say for sure. When I rewatch this at some point in the future, I’ll know for sure. I do think this is a film that is worth seeing, either way, although, like many reviewers, I think it suffers from the PG-13 rating. Check it out sometime!

4 out of 5 stars

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