At the Movies: Taken 2

In 2008 the French thriller “Taken” took a familiar story — father (who happens to be a secret agent) does anything to rescue kidnapped daughter — and gave it a fresh spin. It also turned Liam Neeson into a movie badass, something that not even being a Jedi Knight could do for his career.

So it’s not surprising that Neeson was willing to sign on for a sequel. What is surprising is how lackluster and embarrassingly bad “Taken 2” is compared to the original. Or pretty much any action movie for that matter.

Neeson returns as Bryan Mills, the badass CIA operative who’s much better at covert operations than domestic issues. The movie wastes too much time in the mundane melodrama of Mills’ life — he’s worried because daughter Kim (Maggie Grace) has a boyfriend and ex-wife Lenore (Famke Janssen) is having troubles with her current lover.

When Lenore’s boyfriend bails on a scheduled vacation and cancels all their reservations, Bryan invites ex-wife and daughter to join him on his business trip to Istanbul. They decide to surprise him on the last day of his visit.

But that’s not the only surprise awaiting Bryan. Murad Hoxha (Rade Šerbedžija), an Albanian crimelord, wants revenge for the murder of his son and all the other men that were killed by Bryan in the first film. The fact that those men were kidnappers and white slavers is irrelevant.

Murad’s men grab Bryan and Lenore but fail to catch Kim. Bryan contacts Kim on his secret phone and instructs her on how to get this rescue started.

And here’s where the story loses me. In the first movie I could buy that highly trained special operative Bryan Mills could do all the things he did because, you know, he’s a highly trained special operative. In this version we have his teenage daughter running across rooftops and leaping from building to building and driving a stolen taxicab in a car chase — even though she hasn’t passed her driver’s test back home.

I hate movies where average joe gets thrust into action-movie situation and suddenly starts acting like action-movie hero when in reality that person would be dead in five seconds. But that’s just one of the film’s problems — as mentioned earlier the domestic stuff doesn’t play out well; the fight scenes are poorly choreographed and hard to follow; and the chase scenes aren’t very thrilling.

There are a few good bits but not enough to offset all the bad bits. It’s directed by Olivier Megaton — Really? Megaton? No wonder it’s such a bomb.

Ouch. It hurt me to even type that awful joke. Let’s call it a day.




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