Taken 2: "Hey Dad, Please Don't Shoot This One; I Love Him"

Director: Olivier Megaton
Writer:    Luc Besson
               Robert Mark Kamen
Starring: Liam Neeson
               Maggie Grace
               Famke Janssen
               Rade Serbedzija
               Leland Orser
               Jon Gries
               D.B. Sweeney
               Luke Grimes
               Kevork Malikyan
Rating:    ***

Release Date: Out Now

You know that phrase 'if it's not broken, why fix it', or stop making unnecessary sequels Hollywood' (OK, that's just my opinion); well in recent years the former phrase has never been more true. Recently we have been subjected to Wrath of the Titans, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, and Journey 2: The Mysterious Island, all mediocre movies spawned from mediocre predecessors. 

Liam Neeson
Now, the film I am talking about today is a sequel to a fan favourite, and action movie smash, a surprise blockbuster if you will. Taken 2 probably seemed like a good idea at some point, but now it's been released it just proves the point; Taken wasn't broken, so why try to improve on it with a sequel.

Bryan Mills (Neeson) is trying to move on from the events that occurred in the previous movie, and as well as caring for himself, he has now become just a tad over-protective of his daughter Kim (Grace), and ex-wife Lenore (Janssen). No new plot is set up, well except for Kim's new boyfriend who Bryan is dead set against, so the film's action kicks off fairly quick. Also, the only real character trait to change in this film is that Kim has lost her bratty daddy's girl behaviour. 

Maggie Grace
Whilst holidaying in lovely, sunny Istanbul, the family of the men that Neeson's character killed previously decide to take their revenge. As the American family set off on their holiday adventures, Bryan and Lenore get taken (chuckle); leaving their daughter, and former damsel in distress, as the heroine of the film. The sequences that follow have a good mix of Neeson and Grace, Bryan puts his brain and knowledge to good use by managing to get Kim to safety and trying to save him and his ex. Using a combination of a mobile phone, some grenades, a compass, and her dad's advice; Kim is able to leap across the rooftops of Istanbul to get her parents out of harms way. Luckily Grace is able to do a fantastic job with her surprising lack of screen time and limited script; you can almost see this franchise becoming a trilogy, with Grace taking the lead.

I guess one of my biggest issues with this film is the treatment Famke Janssen receives. We all know she can play the bad-ass and kick some butt, I mean we have all seen Goldeneye and the X-Men films, but for some reason she is forced into the background as a one-layered, and rather dull and passive housewife. It's an odd choice for the script writers to make; if they are going to put her directly in the action, let her shine. Instead she is drained of life and a personality, and just lies around for most of the film as the 'poor victim', something I've never thought of Janssen as.

Famke Janssen
Script-wise, it pretty much matches the first Taken, lacking any real human interaction or clever dialogue. Unfortunately though, it also lacks the surprise element, the punchy action and the breathtaking drama, meaning it pales in comparison. There is nothing hard hitting about the lines that are delivered, in fact they're rather uninspiring. You actually start to wonder if the film was made purely for the big bucks that will inevitably come rolling in; but considering this film wouldn't even exist without the fans, they should be treated with a bit more respect, shouldn't they? There are some good moments, mainly thanks to Grace, but they are few and far between; and not even the magnetic power of Liam Neeson can inject some energy into the action.

Taken 2 - Trailer