The Monocle – “Taken 2”

Directed by: Olivier Megaton
Written by: Luc Besson & Robert Mark Kamen
Released: October 3rd, 2012

Theatre watched at: AMC Promenade 16, West Hills

“When a dog has a bone, the last thing you want to do is take it from him,” and Liam Neeson is the wrong dog to f*ck with…again. The surprise hit Taken (2008), which raked in over $226 million, proved to us more than ever that Liam Neeson could handle the mixture of charm and badass-ery needed to become a successful leading man action star. For the past 4 years it feels like Hollywood has really felt the injection of “the Neeson” into its blood stream. I mean, doesn’t it seem like you’re just seeing his face over and over again more than usual, and sometimes in the most ridiculous/unnecessary places? *cough*BATTLESHIP*cough* In most cases however it’s a good thing, for example early this years’ The Grey, which, if you haven’t seen yet, you should see because it is a fantastic film where Neeson does some fine work. Anyways, it was inevitable that a sequel was going to happen after its reception (and of course because Neeson was contractually obligated to make at least a second), and here we are in 2012 with Taken 2. Although I absolutely love Neeson and enjoyed Taken a lot, I never held any high hopes for the sequel ever since I heard it was green lit, and I’m glad because after hearing the premise I knew it was not going to be a sequel that would build off its predecessor.

The obvious questions are, “Who is going to be taken from Bryan Mills this time and why are they being taken?” The producers seemed to have answered these with the most generic and easy solution to be able to get this puppy churned out as soon as possible, and here it is- his daughter (OH WHAAAAAAAAA?!), his ex-wife, and himself. As for why, the father of one of the kidnappers who Bryan killed in the first film, wants, yeah you guessed it, Skittles. No! REVENGE! Come on guys. That’s the gist of it, and luckily the film doesn’t pass the 90 min mark. Taken 2 is more of the same and less of the best; Neeson is magnetic as ever but even his presence can’t make up for the soulless, cheesy script, baffling editing, and the sheer ridiculousness and carelessness of the screenplay.

For the first 15 mins or so we are reacquainted with the Mills family in suburbia. Here we learn that Bryan is trying to make ends meet working at a car wash, his daughter, Kim (Maggie Grace), is struggling to pass her driver’s test as well as deal with the ramifications of having a boyfriend around an ex-CIA operative father, and his ex-wife, Lenore (Famke Janssen), who is going through a separation with her super rich, dick of a husband we met in the first film (who we do not physically see this time around). Although this part is quite talky, I have to admit, it is the most interesting of the whole film. Seeing Byran trying to deal with the regular day, “normal” ordeals of a father is so engaging and quite funny; we really see Neeson’s dynamics in acting here in how he can easily be believable as an overprotective father and then switch immediately to a fierce killer like it was tea and biscuits on a Saturday morning.

Meanwhile, in Albania, Murad Hoxha (Rade Serbedzija), the chief of the Albanian mafia, wants Bryan and his family captured in order to exact revenge on Bryan for killing his son, Marko, from the first film (you know, the one who was quite “shockingly” enlightened by Bryan). Serbedzija, who you may recognize, but probably not, in small parts from movies such as Mission: Impossible II, Shooter, X-Men: First Class, does an underwhelming job of being a butt-hurt villain here; he’s just not threatening, and quite frankly seems lazy as you’ll see him slumped in a chair during most of the capturing part. I mean he’s in charge but at least seem like you’re interested in avenging your son and your other dead “employees,” man. Try walking back and forth and intently starring at a computer screen while squeezing in mildly satisfied smirks and snarks- that’s “Evil Villain 101,” dude.

So from here, Bryan and the family end up in Istanbul together for a nice vacation, the bad guys follow them, and they attempt to take them all. They are successful at grabbing Bryan and Leonore at first, leaving Bryan to lead Kim on an unbelievably improbable rescue mission to find them. In this entire slew of rising events, there are some fight scenes, which are not as exciting or well choreographed largely due to the extremely quick and incomprehensive editing, and a car chase scene involving Bryan and Kim. I have to say, it is one of the most annoying car chase scenes I have ever seen. You know in those video games where you have a partner running around you with horrible AI trying to help and just won’t shut up? That’s what this scene is like but in human form, in the world of film nonetheless, where they could have edited it to avoid the onslaught of repeated phrases Bryan yells at Kim as she miraculously drives a stick shift cab through the tight and alien streets of Instanbul (in the beginning of the movie it is established that she fails her driver’s test 3 times by the way). Bryan exclaims a repeated rotation of, “Faster!” “Come on, move!” “Hurry up, Kim!” Pretty much all the iterations of, “Please move quicker,” you can think of. This lasts for what seems to be forever; a chase that should have been half as short and twice as intense but ends up being a horrible nostalgia trip back to when my father taught me how to drive, minus the guns and the Albanians.

There’s really not much else to say, the film offers nothing new with B-grade production and is ultimately forgettable. Did I mention the horrid collection of electronic/dubstep music used in the film? One of which I’m fairly certain they’ve re-hashed from another movie. If you’re looking for some dumb entertainment on a weekend, it’s definitely worth seeing in that regard, mostly 1-uped by the fact it’s Liam Neeson kicking ass again, which is never bad. But other than that, it’s a poor sequel that has no real reason to exist other than milking the franchise for what it’s worth. Seeing as how it was made for only $45 million and able to garner a decent opening at #1 for its first weekend with $67 million, I’m thinking Taken 3 has a good chance of happening in the near future.

Oh, would you look at that- Screen Rant Reports Taken 3 is Happening

Bow Tie Score - 2.0