Taken 2 Blu-Ray Review
Starring Liam Neeson, Maggie Grace, Famke Janssen, Leeland Orser, Luke Grimes and Rade Sherbedgia
Written by Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen
Directed by Olivier Megaton
New to Blu-Ray and DVD this week from Fox Home Entertainment is the sequel to the surprise smash hit from 2008, Taken 2. Returning as retired CIA operative Bryan Mills, Liam Neeson is back in action, but this time around HE’S getting taken. Writer/Producer Luc Besson brings aboard protege Olivier Megaton to direct, taking over from Taken director Pierre Morel, but is Megaton able to deliver the goods?
As a retired CIA agent with a very particular set of skills, Bryan Mills (Neeson) stopped at nothing to save his daughter Kim (Grace) from Albanian kidnappers in the original Taken. Now two years later, the father of one of the deceased kidnappers (Sherbedgia) has sworn vengeance upon Mills and his family. After he completes a job in Istanbul, Bryan’s daughter Kim and ex-wife Lenore (Janssen) meet him for a family vacation. Shortly after arriving Bryan and Lenore are taken hostage. Bryan must enlist Kim to help them escape, and then use the same advanced level of combat tactics to get his family to safety while systematically taking out the kidnappers one by one.
To say that Taken 2 is more preposterous than the original Taken would be a bold statement considering how over the top the first one becomes, but Taken 2 is on a whole different level. The script for Taken 2 feels more like a plot outline that was filled in as the film went along, and considering the entire third act was changed to remove a certain character from pivotal scenes and add them back in others seems to back this point. The cast actually does decent work with the material given to them, given that character motivations and actions designated to them by the script seem to make little sense at all. The fact that a still traumatized and jittery Kim when told by her father to go to safety declares she won’t because she is going to rescue him is completely against type. But despite this she grabs a gun and some grenades and under direction from dear old dad takes off to help. Janssen spends most of her time fading in and out of consciousness during the film, a lot of her work ending up on the cutting room floor.
The biggest issue with Taken 2 is that Olivier Megaton cannot deliver the goods action-wise behind the camera as well as Pierre Morel did in the first Taken. Morel had already directed the action classic “District B13” in his native France before helming Taken and his flare and eye for action is really missing here. Neeson also seems to have slowed down a step or two in the last four years. Whether it’s the staging, Neeson’s ability or a combination of both that is the cause, Neeson’s Bryan Mills between the two films seems to have aged as much as 1980’s Steven Seagal compared to 2012 Steven Seagal. The moves may be there but the speed seems stuck on slow motion. It also appears that Megaton was a huge fan of 2011’s “Drive” as he stages an entire sequence, complete with running timer, to the Chromatics ‘Tick of the Clock’ off the “Drive” soundtrack. Unfortunately the ensuing car chase sequence is nowhere nearly as well staged as any of the sequences in director Nicolas Winding Refn’s masterpiece.
The Blu-Ray is packed with special features as it contains the theatrical and extended versions of the film. The disc also includes more deleted scenes that did not make it into the final cut as well as an ‘alternate ending’ that is actually the entire original third act described earlier. The extended version contains a pop up trivia track entitled ‘Black Ops Field Manual’ and there is a fetaurette on Mill’s weapon supply case narrated by Leland Orser’s Sam character entitled ‘Sam’s Tools of the Trade’. Lastly there is a FX Movie channel interview with Neeson about his character and the film.
Ultimately Taken 2 falls desperately short of the expectations set by its predecessor’s tongue in cheek, action packed bucket of fun. Action sequences that play less realistically and a script that feels like it was finished on the fly add up to a watchable film but not a great film. Even suspending disbelief and playing along with the film, the end result cannot come off as anything but a disappointment. Taken 2 is a mild non-recommend.
Till Next Time,
Movie Junkie TO
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