Review: Taken 2 (2012)

Beyond the first film grossing $145 million, there’s little reason for the existence of Taken 2. It’s not breaking any ground from the unexpected 2008 smash hit starring Liam Neeson as a retired CIA agent rescuing his kidnapped daughter. The sequel has a definite sense of more of the same, but what Taken 2 does have in its favor is Neeson’s never-failing man’s man toughness, which still goes a long way in making for an entertaining action film.

Taken 2 - Liam Neeson fighting2jpg

While Taken director Pierre Morel doesn’t return, screenwriters Luc Besson and Mark Kamen are back for a second go-round joined by Transporter 3 director Oliver Megaton. The passing of the baton is perhaps a little too smooth as Megaton largely follows in Morel’s footprints.

Action scenes are quick and sped up through frequent clipping to retain the series’ feel, but Megaton doesn’t take enough chances to create the film in his own image even down to a similar setting. Instead, he just acts as the franchise’s caretaker unwilling to truly shake up status quo.

This time, the film demands more of Neeson carrying it to a respectable fun level. While he’s capable of shouldering the load, part of what made Taken such a revelation was how effortlessly Neeson made it look.

Taken 2 - Liam Neeson and Famke Janssen

In a slight twist from the first film, Neeson’s Bryan Mills is the one being hunted down as the family members of some of his bullet catchers from Taken are out for revenge and trying to track down him down.

Bryan meanwhile is focusing on other matters like helping his daughter, Kim, (Maggie Grace, Lockout) get her driver’s license. As a Lost fan, I’m glad Grace is getting work, but at 28-years-old at the time this was released, it’s a stretch to buy her as a teenager. An unnecessary change this time sees Bryan re-connect with his ex-wife, Lenore (Famke Janssen, The Wolverine), who has separated from her current husband. It’s a weak attempt to get Bryan and Lenore back together when the dynamic of the exes coming together to help Kim in the original was much stronger.

Taken 2 - Maggie GraceWith a few days to kill in Istanbul after wrapping up his last assignment, Bryan invites them to visit him, just in time for the bad guys to find. To mix things up a bit, Bryan and Lenore are initially captured and things get dicey via a credibility-stretching sequence where Kim has to help Bryan escape.

It doesn’t ruin the film, but getting the younger sidekick/child assistance is more of a third film move than a sequel where we just want to see Bryan doing more of what we loved from the first installment. And Bryan’s kill count in the sequel is surprisingly five short of the 35 he killed in the first film. But again, Neeson as bada$$ killer trumps most of the film’s lack of creativity.

Taken 2 - Rade SerbedzijaRade Serbedzija’s Murad Krasniqi leads the bad guys and with his gravelly voice and thick beard, he exudes an old-school classic movie villain until the second act when his cool vengeful calm gives way to frantic would-be target trying to escape Bryan’s fury. [Tekken fans will get that one].

Taken 2 - Liam Neeson fightingTaken was a welcome treat for action fans in the tradition of the Jason Bourne saga films. Its sequel is more comfortable simply winning over Taken and Neeson fans so if you count yourself among that number, you’ll be satisfied. Hopefully the series can match Neeson’s intensity with the upcoming Taken 3.

Rating: 6.5 out of 10

Buy on Blu-Ray: Taken 2 (Unrated Cut) [Blu-ray]

Buy on DVD: Taken 2






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  • Barry Murray

    It wasn’t too bad as far as sequels go, but it might be hard for any film to top the original.

  • True, I wanted it to try to expand on the world a bit more like “Aliens” or “Empire Strikes Back” did. I know that’s a tall order though 😉

  • Barry Murray

    There were a few great moments. Nothing like the “edge of your pants for an hour and a half” that the first film managed, but a few cool moments.

    “If i kill you, your other sons will come after me for revenge?”


    “And i will kill them, too…”

  • I loved that line and how that scene ended in a sensible, non-traditional movie manner.

  • Barry Murray

    I am hoping they can at least make the second sequel as good as Taken 2 and not degenerate further. Fingers crossed.

  • Right there with you although the trailer indicates it will be going in a much more complex and interesting direction.

  • Barry Murray

    Well, well. I had managed to miss the trailer till now. Although part of me wishes i had avoided it still, i do like the new direction. It takes us back to the “guy doing illegal things for a good cause” formula of the first one.
    I guess we will not know for sure till we have seen it, but based on the trailer, there’s a chance we might have a sequel that’s better than the original on our hands.

  • Yeah i do wish they could have avoided that big spoiler in the trailer as that would have been a shock to actually watch in the movie, but it really got me excited. Definitely looks like it will be better than the second one.

  • Barry Murray

    Indeed. I am really looking forward to it now.

  • Really goofy and dumb, but I hate to say it, I had fun. Good review Jeff.

  • Me too!

  • Yep. Definitely goofy fun. Thanks man!

  • Barry Murray

    The only possible fake out i can think of would be Lenore not actually being dead. They likely wouldn’t go down that route, but if it’s a clandestine group of baddies trying to frame Bryan(Either just to get him out of the way so they can enact a larger plan, or because he has done something in the past to mess with their plans), you can imagine a Wolverine/IM3 plot where they need the hero to think she’s dead so he will incriminate himself further. Maybe they are even needing Bryan to lead them to someone else(Someone he wouldn’t go to except in dire need).
    I know that Lenore will probably be dead for good, but it just occurs to me as a possibility of a fake out for the audience.
    Just a thought.

  • That is a very intriguing thought and would make for a nice audience fake out! Now I’m gonna be a bit disappointed if they dont go that route.?

  • Barry Murray

    I’m probably over-thinking it. The trailer likely shows us all the important stuff regarding Lenore. Bryan is having everything pared back to the “one thing he cares about” again. Back to basics like the first movie.

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