While 2008′s Taken was never going to win any Oscars it was a fun, if somewhat trashy, action flick. Somebody kidnapped a former CIA agent’s daughter and he was going to do what it took to get her back. Cue 90-minutes of gritty, gratuitous violence as Mills (Liam Neeson’s character) cut a bloody swathe through the human trafficking business. Action fans were sated, Liam Neeson fans were overjoyed and girls with daddy issues swooned – and that’s where it should have been left.
Sadly, Taken made far too much money to be allowed to fade into the background with dignity and so we have had this soulless rubbish dumped in our laps.
In Taken 2 the bad guy’s grab Mills’ wife in Istanbul (a tremendous leap from his daughter in Paris) and it’s down to him to find her. He shoots, punches and kicks his way through a thousand generic Albanian bad guys to get her back in what is a thoroughly unsatisfying and rather sanitised trail of violence. Half the fun of Taken was seeing these guys get their just desserts in increasingly brutal fashion but Taken 2‘s 12A sticker ensures that all they ever face this time is the bang of a gun before they keel over bloodlessly. The action scenes are your average fare for a Hollywood block buster, certainly nothing special, and Neeson is starting to show his age with many of the hand-to-hand combat scenes relying on some serious editing to keep them exciting.
Still, you’ll welcome each uninspired shoot-out and car chase with a warmth normally only reserved for your oldest friends because when Taken 2 isn’t blowing stuff up it’s incredibly bad. Hammy acting, cheesy dialogue, a plot that seemed to have been written by a panicked intern five minutes before shooting for the film began and a borderline incestuous relationship between father and daughter all collide to make much of Taken 2 difficult to watch while keeping your popcorn down. Worst of all the film hints towards yet another sequel with all the subtlety of a suicide bomber, Neeson practically holds up a copy of the script during the final fight scene.
What on Earth they would do for a third Taken film I have no idea although I’m sure it will be just as well thought out as this was. This time they’ve taken his dog the posters will scream, or perhaps they’re back for revenge…and his DVD collection. Maybe Olivier Megaton will hand over the director’s chair to the Daily Mail who will make it about immigrants; Now they’ve taken his job. Whatever they do, I wont be watching it. Take it away and make sure it doesn’t escape again.
Words: Martin Hearty