A follow-up to the 2008 hit Taken was always inevitable. That film was a constant surprise and built up a great reputation as a solid, hard-hitting action thriller. Liam Neeson was nails and providing you left your brains at the door, it was perfect Saturday night entertainment. With a decent showing at the box office, healthy DVD sales and a recurrent interest in Neesons character in particular (his phone call to the Albanian sex traffickers as they kidnap his daughter has entered the Internet meme lexicon), why would they NOT make a sequel?
|Coming for him? Big mistake ...|
Taken 2 sees the same character and his family abducted while on a short sojourn to Instanbul. Who knew that the gangsters from the original film had brothers and fathers and mothers and sisters? Apparently they do and they are seeking revenge. It's what they do in Albania. Conveniently ignoring the fact they were sex-trafficking, drug-dealing rapist murdering low-life scum, the father and brothers of those killed by Mills in Paris have not learned their lesson and are now offering themselves up as sacrificial lambs to the 'special set of skills' possessed by Brian Mills. After all, it's what he does best.
|Nails, like proper well hard.|
And that, essentially, is the plot. If you've seen Taken, and presumably enjoyed it, Taken 2 is not going to offer up anything different in the formula. Except for one: the ratings certification. The first film was a 15, giving the director much more lateral freedom when it came to depicting the violence on screen. As a result, the ham-fisted plot and cardboard cut-out characters (not you Mills, definitely not you) could be all but excused for great thrills and lots of spills. Here, the 12A rating hampers the action so much, we're just about left with all the bad things about the first. It's a real shame.
That's not to say the film is all terrible as there are some terrific action sequences. Witness Brian and daughter Kim crashing through the US Embassy gates in a stolen Mercedes, some great fights between Brian and just about everyone and their dog and ... and ... that's about it. Neeson is as good as ever and even at 60 years of age doesn't look too old for this shnizzle. Maggie Grace as daughter Kim gets a slightly bigger part but Famke Jansson is largely perfunctory except as bad guy fodder. Oh and the Eurotrash baddies are as slimy and stupid as ever.
|No, don't do it, it's not THAT bad.|
It's all so sanitized and routine and even Mills seems to have toned down his stuff. Where before he'd not even hesitate to shoot his best friends wife just to illicit some essential information, here he allows himself and his ex-wife to be captured with only a few broken baddies bones by way of payback. The finale barely stutters to an apologetic and muddled conclusion and whilst paving the way for a Taken 3, the lower age rating means we are unsatisfied by the despotic despatching. Forget shooting between the eyes, this is more like tripping on an uneven pavement.
On the way to the movie theatre, my wife and I talked about what we were expecting. Not so much Taken 2 but Taken Squared. We wanted more of the good stuff, ramped up beyond belief, not more of the bad stuff tamed down to an execrable level and yet, that's what we got. Taken Tamed, it should be. A disappointment really. I wouldn't say it to Neeson / Mills' face though, no way.
A quick word about Vue Cinemas. Seriously, sort out your ticketing arrangements and organisation. We had pre-booked ours and 'inconveniently' the ATM's had broken meaning we had to queue at the concessions stand for our tickets. Whereupon, the assistant tried to sell us your over-priced snacks and drinks. Then, as Taken 2 was sold out (obviously no-one had read the reviews), there were several different queues all trying to get into the one screen, with no signs or directions or help from the harried ushers. THEN, once sat, there were arguments breaking out over who was sat in who's seat, the grumblings of which lasted well into the film. We paid a shit-load for this 'experience'. Not cool Vue, not cool.