The original Taken stoked the fires of western paranoia toward Middle Eastern people with its depiction of a pretty white American girl being abducted into sex slavery by swarthy fiends. The film then one-upped all those morally dubious revenge films from Dirty Harry to I Spit on Your Grave by having the girl’s retired CIA assassin father (Liam Neeson) go on a brutal ass-whooping and torture frenzy across Paris. It was stupid and offensive but it at least had a fierce energy.
With Taken 2, director Olivier Megaton clearly wants to appeal to a broader audience as he tones down the sinew snapping savagery and emphasises the relationship between Neeson and wife Famke Janssen. Unfortunately, the film maintains the negative racial stereotyping of the original and ups the silliness factor.
Set a few months after the original, this one sees Neeson attempting to reconcile with wife Famke Janssen by taking her and daughter Kim (Maggie Grace) to Istanbul. Bizarrely, Neeson is unconcerned about any payback from the associates of the criminal cartel he single-handedly wiped out in the first film. The cartel’s leader (Rade Serbedzija), however, is hell-bent on killing the man who disposed of his buddies and his son. In an attempted twist, Neeson and Jansen are the ones kidnapped leaving daughter Kim to come to the rescue. The film soon dispenses with this gimmick, however, leaving Neeson to run amuck annihilating every non-American in sight.
This film has a lighter tone than the original and some deliberate humour but that in no way justifies ridiculous scenes such as Neeson’s daughter casually lobbing hand grenades all around Istanbul or Neeson’s captors placing him in the Dr Evil approved easily escapable situation with no guard watching him. Admittedly, had there been a guard in the room this would have made little difference as the bad guys are more incompetent than Inspector Clouseau and politely stand in line waiting to be shot or have the Christ beaten out of them.
The action is consistent and sometimes bracing but too often feels like a diluted rehash of the first film. Also, the fight scenes are filmed with Bourne-style wobble vision and mad butcher editing so there is no chance of us knowing what’s happening.
While this film pushes some of the same buttons that made Taken a guilty pleasure, like so many sequels it ads nothing to the original.
Nick’s rating: 2 stars.
Director(s): Olivier Megaton
Release date: 4th Oct 2012
Running time: 91 mins.
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