I suppose it was inevitable there would be a follow-up to Taken. The sequel showed us what would happen if Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) and his wife (Famke Janssen) were taken. The same writers Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen return, but fail to bring it to the same level as the first one. There are moments in this film where it might be exciting and interesting, but there seems to be far more inadequacies that take me out of it to fully enjoy the film.
Olivier Megaton’s direction is an attempt to follow its predecessor but falls short in its delivery of the same level of action and continuity the first one had. It still follows that this film be built around a phone call between Bryan and Kim (Maggie Grace) like in the first one when Kim was taken. If this was the thought behind these films, perhaps I could write a screenplay based on a conversation I had with a friend over the old phrase “Where’s the beef?”
The film opens in Albania where Murad Krasniqi (Rade Serbedzija), the father of one of the men Bryan killed in the first Taken film, is with his clan at the burial site of his son and the rest of the others Mills killed because they simply got in his way. So of course he vows to get Mills and make him pay for the death of his son. Never mind the fact his son seemed to take enjoyment out of taking young female tourists and making them sex slaves.
And it just so happens that Bryan is in Istanbul on a private security assignment and has brought his family along for a little R & R in the country. Of course these bad guys find out and decide to take Mills and his wife while Kim is in the hotel room preparing to get ready to meet them after a little swim. Here’s where the phone call comes in, because apparently these guys aren’t smart enough to check for and take any forms of communication away from him before they tie him up. Bryan calls his daughter to tell her that he and her mother have been taken and gives her instructions to help them escape. And of course, being a former CIA agent, he has a case filled with “emergency equipment” like hand grenades, a map and other material. Here’s a part where inconsistencies comes in to play. He tells Kim that the men who took him are going to come after her. So he helps her get out and as she is doing so she is running barefoot through the rooms and halls of the hotel and finally gets to a window. She steps out barefoot on the ledge. But as the bad guys close in, one of them notices a sandal on the floor by the window. A. Single. Sandal. She didn’t have any footwear running through the hotel, but suddenly she leaves a single sandal by the window? It’s those little things that take me out of the film.
Now I know there are probably numerous inconsistencies in various films, but it’s the execution of character, action, story and other elements in a film that can hold my interest and suspension of disbelief for the sake of the film. Taken 2 did not do that for me like the first one did. The film really left me with no real connection with the characters. Yes I was sort of rooting for Mills to kick some ass and take some names as he fights for the freedom of himself and his family, but a real emotional connection was lost to me in this film. Thankfully it does move rather quickly and only has a 92-minute runtime.
Taken 2 plays as a slick, fast-paced action flick but its substance leaves something to be desired. If fast paced action is what interests and entertains you, then Olivier Megaton and company might just have the thing for you. But if you’re looking for a little more, then this film probably misses the mark.