Film Review: Avoid getting taken by ‘Taken 2’

Film Review: Avoid getting taken by ‘Taken 2’
Liam Neeson reprises his role as former CIA agent Bryan Mills who has a “very special set of skills” in “Taken 2.” Photo by Magali Bragard

Hampered by a lack of inspiration and incoherent excess, “Taken 2” fails to build on the cult following the original has developed. 

While I never got to see the original film during its theatrical release, I did see it eventually on home media. I liked seeing Liam Neeson dish out his brand of punishment to the bad guys on the big screen, and “Taken” was no exception to that rule.

I can’t say it ranks up there with the more popular action thrillers I’ve come across, but it proved to be effective in its purpose as an OK guilty pleasure.

“Taken 2,” however, is neither effective nor OK.

Neeson reprises his role as former CIA operative Bryan Mills. While on a trip to Istanbul, Turkey, he gets a surprise visit from his ex-wife, Lenore (Famke Janssen), and his daughter, Kim (Maggie Grace). This happy reunion goes south when Lenore is abducted. As in the first “Taken” Neeson uses his “skills” to rescue Lenore, prevent his daughter from being taken, again, and to put and end to those who seek retribution against him from the first film.

After seeing “Taken,” I’d hoped for something different this time around. If a potential action series is to survive, each installment should showcase its own elements so that you don’t feel as if the same idea is being used over and over again.

That rule seems to be ignored in “Taken 2,” which doesn’t even bother to try a new twist on things.

Fans of the original will be disappointed to hear that the sequel is, essentially, a rehash of what happened the first time and nothing else.

The cinematography in “Taken 2” is possibly among the worst I’ve seen in the action genre. While there are a couple beautiful sweeping shots of Istanbul, most of the time we are subjected to an excessive use of the shaky-cam technique. The first film had the decency to give us a clear idea as to what was happening during the action sequences. In contrast, the sequel exploits the hand-held effect to the point where you can’t understand what is taking place and who is involved. Shaky cam motion only works in healthy doses — a recommendation this film ignores entirely.

I also have complaints regarding the film’s score. How am I supposed to sit back and enjoy an action film when the music makes me want to plug my ears? The synthetic composition has a jarring effect on your senses, overwhelming them so much that you can’t even feel a simple touch, scent or sound. By the time I was walking out of the theater, I couldn’t even begin to remember which scenes stood out to me.

Neeson continues to be the understated action star he has been throughout his career.

As terrible a sequel as “Taken 2” is, his resourcefulness and marksmanship is anything but. Famke Janssen receives more screen time than she did in the original, but she has little to do here other than be the damsel in distress. Maggie Grace gets to pitch in a little for the action-packed moments; though it’s obvious the primary purpose she serves here is being the eye candy.

I strongly suggest avoiding “Taken 2” at all costs. Even if you enjoyed the first film, this stinker isn’t worth your time and money.

When: Opens Oct. 5
Where: Wide release
Run time: 1 hour 31 minutes
Rating: PG-13

 

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  1. Frank says:

    A bunch of my DISH co-workers are seeing Taken 2 this weekend and they invited me to go, but I keep seeing reviews like this one. I don’t really think I want to spend the money on a movie ticket for this one. I’m sure I’ll end up adding it to my Blockbuster @ Home queue through my DISH account eventually though, because I am curious about it. That way it’ll just show up at my apartment and I won’t have to go out of my way to seek it out.

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