Taken 2 (review)

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Takes 2 red light Liam Neeson

I’m “biast” (pro): usually find Liam Neeson fun to watch

I’m “biast” (con): wasn’t a big fan of the first film

(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)

If there’s one important lesson we can all learn from Taken 2, it’s this: Albanian sex-slavers are people, too, okay? Their mothers love them, and if you kill them, their fathers/bosses will hunt you down and kill you in return. They’ve got certain skills, you see, and they’re not afraid to use them.

And those certain skills appear to be a lack of peripheral vision, a tendency to keep one’s back turned to the direction danger is most likely to come in, and a refusal to heed one’s own guard dog when it is barking its doggy head off that “Liam Neeson is like right in the room, you idiots!”

This is, I assume, director Olivier Megaton intending to be funny. It’s not funny. It could also potentially be Megaton (Colombiana) intending to be subtle. And it’s about what you might expect from a filmmaker who calls himself “Megaton.”

If the anemic attempt returning screenwriters Luc Besson (Bandidas) and Robert Mark Kamen (The Karate Kid) deploy is any indication, Taken 3 will be nothing but Liam Neeson running around whatever European city ponies up the biggest tax credits, growling and beating up random swarthy passersby who look at him askew. It would be only a tiny step below this. See, what little that happens is, not long after professional badass Bryan Mills (Neeson: Battleship, Wrath of the Titans) rescued his daughter, Kim (Maggie Grace: The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1, Knight and Day), from Albanian sex-slavers in Paris, the whole family — including Kim’s mom and Bryan’s ex, Lenore (Famke Janssen: X-Men: The Last Stand, Hide and Seek) — is in Istanbul. Just because. (See note about tax credits.) And it turns out that one good thing about being an international sex-slaver, as Murad (Rade Serbedzija: In the Land of Blood and Honey, X-Men: First Class) is, is that you’ve got guys in every major European city who can be on the lookout for the guy who killed your sons just because your boys wanted to auction off a pretty white girl’s virginity. (Some people are so sensitive, sheesh!) Bryan, for all his badassery, is unable to prevent himself and Lenore being kidnapped by revenge-seeking Murad’s goons. Though Bryan, mid-kidnap, is able, via phone, to guide Kim, still back at the hotel, through her own escape.

That’s right: Liam Neeson is Taken, Too!

Yeah, it’s ridiculous. For lots of reasons. The most glaring one: Maggie Grace was way too old to be prancing and giggling her way around Paris as a naive teenager back in 2008, for Taken, and now, at nearly 30 years of age, her little-girl act is downright bizarre. But the biggest oddity of Taken 2 is how dull it is. What modicum of humor there was in the first film is gone, and suspense is nonexistent. There’s little sense of jeopardy for Bryan and Family, not just because of the aforementioned Most Incompetent Bad Guys Ever, but also because all the laws of quantum physics are with Bryan: in one unintenionally hilarious bit, Bryan is able to retrace on foot the route he was taken while blindfolded in a car because the chicken he heard squawking outside is in the same exact place again days later. Chaos theory, schmaos theory. When the universe is this much on your side, you literally cannot lose.

What’s left? Tedious car chases, same-old fisticuffs, and some stuff I’m pretty sure Besson and Kamen stole from an episode of MacGyver almost as old as Maggie Grace. But we must be grateful for small favors: at least it’s not all in 3D.

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Mon, Oct 01, 2012 11:37am

See, if only she weren’t a virgin, none of this would have happened!

I’m going to go off again on my tired old refrain to filmmakers: it’s not enough to put someone on stage as the hero. You have to give me a reason to care about him, to worry on his behalf, to hope he’s going to succeed. If you don’t go to some effort to engage me, I’m not going to be engaged.

Mon, Oct 01, 2012 11:39am

McG. Kaos (Ecks vs. Sever). Megaton.

I guess the lesson here is “avoid one word name directors like the plague”.


Taken 3 will be nothing but Liam Neeson running around whatever European city ponies up the biggest tax credits, growling and beating up random swarthy passersby who look at him askew.

In 3D.

Paul Wartenberg
reply to  Overflight
Mon, Oct 01, 2012 3:45pm

 Well Neeson’s run out of swarthy Europeans to beat up.  Maybe Taken 3 will have him beating up swarthy New York hedge fund managers.

MaryAnn Johanson
reply to  Paul Wartenberg
Mon, Oct 01, 2012 3:49pm

That would be nice. They wouldn’t even have to be swarthy.

Paul Wartenberg
reply to  MaryAnn Johanson
Mon, Oct 01, 2012 4:12pm

But if the hedge fund managers get to be too pasty white we’ll get accused of reverse-racism.  So make sure they all have fake orange tans…

Paul Wartenberg
Mon, Oct 01, 2012 3:44pm

There’s essentially an entire film genre of Liam Neeson vs. X  Liam Neeson vs. Wolves.  Liam Neeson vs. Batman.  Liam Neeson Horribly Disfigured vs. Corrupt Construction Mogul.  Liam Neeson vs. Stupid American Tourists (what, no one else watched “High Spirits”?).

Just go with it.  Can’t wait for Liam Neeson vs. Austerity Economists.

MaryAnn Johanson
reply to  Paul Wartenberg
Mon, Oct 01, 2012 3:50pm

No, The Grey is nothing like Taken or Unknown. Hollywood would like you to think it is, if that means you’ll buy a ticket, but it’s not.

Paul Wartenberg
reply to  MaryAnn Johanson
Mon, Oct 01, 2012 4:09pm

The Grey may be a better movie than Taken (or Unknown), but it still fits the Neeson vs. X genre.  You kinda need to read this, http://mightygodking.com/index.php/2012/01/31/liam-neeson/ plus the follow-up comments, to kinda understand what I’m thinking of…

Tue, Oct 02, 2012 12:02am

Hey LB, I don’t know what you’re doing that’s so important you can’t take my call, but whatever, just sit down and listen to this.  You are going to blow a load so big it will shoot out your sleeves.  Are you ready?

Taken: Tag Tournament Two (AKA “T-Four”)
Did you fully process that?  Are you ready to write the movie crossover of the God Damn Millennium?  Liam Neeson’s 43 year old daughter is kidnapped while vacationing in Poland (or Russia or Italy or whatever) and is then forced to fight in an underground MMATMILFM (yeah that’s right…topless…mudwrestling) league.  She battles her way to the finals in a coccaine fueled haze, only to come face to face with… are you ready?  John McClane’s 41 year old daughter, who…get this… was also… kidnapped.  Best hook ever.  Word of mouth will be off the charts.

Bruce Willis makes a brief but lucrative cameo late in the movie, teaming up with Neeson to kill dozens of swarthy eurotrash dudes on a quest to rescue their helpless innocent girls only to discover the horrible truth – the 1% are visiting hidden clubs in Eastern Europe to watch gorgeous middle-class forty-something women smear mud on each other in brutal sexy fights to the death.  Did I hear someone say Sofia Vergara cameo? (or Salma Hayek or Halle Berry or Nicole Kidman or whoever)  

Will they arrive in time?  Who will defenstrate the most burly Eastern Europeans?  “I will look for you, I will find you, and I will kill you!”  “Yeah, Yippie-ki-yay, vaguely-european motherfucker!”  My God, the whole thing writes itself – Liam is the classic straight man, Bruce comes in at the end with the one liners, plus the Easter Egg after the credits ties right in to the beginning of A Good Day to Die Hard.  That’s what we marketing professionals call conceptual repositioning of an asset to promote synchronousity.Seriously, call me Luc – we have to go over these numbers together, this thing is gold, the trailers alone will literally print money, I’ve already got Bay and McG signed to co-direct – that’s right to tie in with the Tag-Team theme we’ve got tag team directors.  It’s fucking genius.  The mock-up posters I’ve seen – outstanding, everyone loves it.  Bruce’s people have seen it, they’re onboard, he loves it.  We ran the tests, incredible numbers, every demo, crazy insane numbers.  You gotta call me.  It is completely fucking unbelievable how amazing this is going to be.. you will choke on happy tears when you see the BOP’s – I will be forced to give you mouth to mouth and suck the tears of joy out of your throat to prevent you from drowning.  That is how happy you will be.  Just call me… we’re gonna make Expendables 2 look like John Fucking Carter.  It will be thirty years before we see another chance like this, maybe never, the biggest God damn opportunity of your life, right here, right now.  All you have to do is return this call – so many people are hot for this to happen, tons of people, big names, but I told them all, I told them hold on, wait a sec, I want to get mon frere LB onboard because I know he will put out a quality product, a product worthy of this kind of once in a lifetime megaton concept.  I’m gonna call him and he’s gonna see how huge this is immediately.  He’s not a chump, not some moronic short-sighted loser who’d tear up the deed to a fucking gold mine like this.  My man Luc knows film.  He’s got something you all don’t have: integrity and vision.  Fifth Element?  God Damn Masterpiece.  Transporter 3?  Soooo underrated.  Taken?  Best action franchise of all time.  Of.  All. Time.  That’s what I told him, word for word – because honestly, that’s how I’ve always felt, no one inspires me like you do.  You know how tight I am with NatPo, but let’s be honest, you, you fucking made her, you thrust your hands into the earth and molded every single curve out of God damn clay – everything she has accomplished was due to your guidance and foresight, your iron will, your unparalleled mastery of the craft.  You’ve got to call me.  You must call me.  I gotta bouce man, Spielberg’s on the other line begging for a execpro credit on this deal, literally begging… it’s almost sad – but I left him on call waiting just so I could call you first with the good news.  That’s how much respect I have for you as an artist, as the artist.  Call me.

reply to  amanohyo
Tue, Oct 09, 2012 10:24am

 what a idiotic review get a hobbie and stop thinking your opinion is one law and two important

Sun, Oct 07, 2012 4:09am

My suspenders of disbelief unsnapped after: Okay, draw a circle around that circle, throw a grenade,
okay-which way are the flags blowing? Tie Mom’s high heels together and make nunchucks, go to
the kitchen and get a can opener to poke someone’s eye out.

Sun, Oct 07, 2012 8:07am

Albania and Turkish mob ate no Europeans!
Europe is no country! Turkey is not even in Europe

reply to  Ceb
Sun, Oct 07, 2012 2:45pm

Simply knowing whether a country is technically in Europe or Asia tells you very little, as there is a large variety of cultures within each continent (a fact that your second sentence vaguely hints at).  However, if you mean to suggest that Turkey’s predominantly Muslim population ties it more strongly to middle eastern cultures than to those of eastern Europe, that may certainly be true for eastern and rural Turkey, but in western Turkey (near Istanbul and Izmir at least) the culture feels very stereotypically European.  The secular democratic government also ties Turkey politically to “the west” although its geographic location makes it necessary to maintain relationships with a wide variety of middle eastern countries.  Many people refer to Turkey as Eurasian, as it’s literally a bridge between Europe and Asia.  That straddling of cultures is one of the primary reasons that Istanbul is one of the most interesting cities in the world.  It has been the bottleneck through which so many amazing ideas have passed and the spot where those ideas came face to face with their cross-continental counterparts for the first time.

Albania, on the other hand is obviously European from a map-drawing standpoint, although it’s not yet in the EU.  From a cultural perspective it’s amazingly heterogeneous and dynamic and has very little in common with Turkey.  Your lumping of these two countries together suggests that your objection may have at its foundation some form of nationalistic racism or malformed geographical hubris.  You may want to have a doctor take a look at that.  I cannot make any definitive comment on the existence or nonexistence of organized cannibalistic crime within the countries; however I can say that although I’m sure many Europeans are quite delicious, your first sentence appears somewhat self-evident.  

Sun, Feb 03, 2013 9:51pm

I really enjoyed Taken 2! The storyline was wshy washy at best and I would have thought they would have thought about changing it up, but other than that I thought Neeson was badass. Shame though he hasn’t passed on his driving skills to Kim….. lol