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Movie Review

Taken 2

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, and some sensuality.

Reviewed by: Ryan Callaway
CONTRIBUTOR

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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Adults Teens
Genre:
Action Crime Thriller Drama Sequel
Length:
1 hr. 31 min.
Year of Release:
2012
USA Release:
October 5, 2012 (wide—3,000+ theaters)
DVD: January 15, 2013
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Relevant Issues
Copyright, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

duty of a father to protect his family

FEAR, Anxiety and Worry—What does the Bible say? Answer

kidnapping

revenge

father daughter relationship

Istanbul, Turkey

Featuring: Liam NeesonBryan Mills
Maggie GraceKim
Famke JanssenLenore
Leland Orser … Sam
Jon Gries … Casey
D.B. Sweeney … Bernie
more »
Director: Olivier Megaton
Producer: Europa Corp.
Grive Productions
Canal+
more »
Distributor: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

“First they took his daughter. Now they’re coming for him.”

Prequel: “Taken” (2009)
Sequel: “Taken 3” (2015)

“Taken 2” is the sequel to Luc Besson’s surprise hit “Taken,” both films starring Liam Neeson. The original, which followed Brian Mills” overseas search for his daughter after her abduction, completely took me by surprise. I hadn’t heard of the movie until it was on DVD and one of my sisters introduced me to it. “Taken” immediately became one of my favorite films—a well paced thriller with riveting action scenes and a tense atmosphere built around an intelligent script.

In “Taken 2,” Brian and his ex-wife Lenore begin bonding again when her current boyfriend (who seemed like a decent enough guy in the last film) inexplicably becomes antagonistic toward her. Brian is also regularly seeing his daughter, who is trying to recover from her ordeal in France, moving on with a boyfriend and an upcoming driver’s license test. Brian is given an assignment in Istanbul, and since he’ll be in the country for several days after his work is finished, he invites Lenore and Kim. Meanwhile, the father of one of the dozens of men killed during Brian’s last rampage, bands together with others to seek revenge. This time the entire family is targeted, and Brian himself is “taken,” along with his former wife.

I’d been anxiously awaiting the arrival of “Taken 2” since seeing the trailer months ago. Liam Neeson, initially reluctant to appear in a sequel, admitted that he signed on only after reading a solid script. Unfortunately, after watching the film, I wish that he’d held out for a better one. Although it was entertaining and certainly had its moments, “Taken 2” turned out to be a disappointment. A lot of what led to the first one being a surprise hit was attempted in the sequel, but it all seemed to fall short. More time was spent on character development prior to the action—particularly the relationships between Brian, his wife, and his daughter. However, for some reason, it wasn’t successful in getting me invested. It might’ve been the predictability, or the clichéd dialog, but it just didn’t work. There was also an unnecessary subplot about Brian learning that Kim has a boyfriend. It consumes only 4-5 minutes of screen time, but, frankly, even that was too much.

Some of the action sequences were well staged, but there seemed to be more gun battles and less of the brutal fisticuffs I loved in the original. The quick-cut editing style, which was much better used in the first, only serves to make a lot of the action difficult to follow. The story has its moments, but it never manages to offer up the thrills of the first and, in my opinion, only comes close at the finale. I really wanted to enjoy “Taken 2,” and I would still recommend it to fans of the first, but with the disclaimer that it’s nowhere near as good as it could’ve been.

From a spiritual standpoint, there’s not much to comment on. There’s some foul language—some instances of blasphemy (GD, “Oh my G_d” 3 times, “For G_d’s sakes” twice) and 5 s-words). Little sexual content (kissing, cleavage, a bikini). The violence is there, but the film was edited for a PG-13 rating, so it’s not pervasive. There are a couple of scenes of implied torture that could make some viewers uncomfortable. Lenore’s shoulder is cut, and she’s hung upside down and left to bleed to death before his eyes. Another man is stabbed in the thigh with scissors.

One aspect I objected to morally was the subplot with Kim and her boyfriend. First of all, I think fathers should be involved in who their daughters” date (“Courageous” made some excellent points in that regard). Lenore keeps Brian in the dark out of fear that he will overreact and even allows her daughter to be alone with this boyfriend. Someone she presumably doesn’t know that well, as they’ve been dating for a few months. Kim later confides in her Dad that she’s not necessarily “in love” with him, yet when we see them for the first time, they’re making out on a couch and hands begin to wander. I know it’s typical behavior for teenagers today, but it did bug me a bit, and I thought it warranted mentioning.

One positive aspect is that in the midst of all the violence and revenge, Brian sincerely offers one of his enemies the chance to walk away. “Those who live by the sword, will die by the sword” Brian acknowledges the probability that someone will later want to avenge this person, even though Brian is merely defending himself. Indeed revenge and vengeance are vicious cycles, and I found Brian mentioning that refreshing.

Violence: Extreme / Profanity: Moderate / Sex/Nudity: Moderate

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.


Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive
Positive—An exciting international thriller with Liam Neeson playing an intelligent and virile role. Believable interaction with his spirited but respectful daughter and his lovely and now possibly available former wife. Thrills throughout and a clear line between good and evil, honor and degradation. Daughter could have worn a more modest swimsuit, and there is moderate violence at times, but little else objectionable. Audience—including me—clapped at end.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Larry, age 44 (USA)
Positive—“Taken 2” has the same mold as the original “Taken,” where the movie merge you with Liam Neeson’s character Bryan Mills with a father’s heart. This time Mills, and partially with the help of his daughter, had to save his wife and himself, from the ruthless killers, hell bent on revenge. When Murad Krasniqi (Croatian musician and actor Rade Serbedzija), an Albanian decided to avenge his son’s death (the kidnapper of Mills daughter, whom he electrocuted in the first film) by bringing the terror to Mills’ family, he had no choice but to do what he does best! “Taken 2” has more edge of the seat moments, and like all Luc Besson’s sequels a bit carried away from the original, a shift of heart into action.

The movie has a great share of violence, so it’s not recommendable for children. Sex and nudity is almost none, except there is a scene of Kim (Maggie Grace) and her boyfriend (thankfully saved by Mills GPS locating skills) and a few scenes where some viewers might object to the “dress code” of Kim. There was yet another scene where Mills and Kim discusses about the love life, where Kim says she had yet to find “the magical moments” her mother talks about (between Mills and his ex-wife Famke Janssen). I would say, Taken 2 is a clean film, except the killings and violence, which unfortunately is the thematic part of the movie. It’s an edge of the seat thriller, and possibly we can expect a third part, as well.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Cyril Thomas, age 32 (United Kingdom)
Positive—Action packed, yes violent, however exciting… opening scene has girl and boyfriend making out… but that’s it for “sexuality.” A little language, but it’s in a car chase, and it’s crazy intense… so not “in your face.” Saw with my husband and 14 year old daughter… no regrets.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Kimmy Kay, age 40+ (USA)
Positive—In an age where profanity is so blatant and obtrusive, it’s refreshing to have a movie that has lots of action, yet can still be shown on TV without bleeping out half of it. Yes, there was use of profanity, but not so much where it gets in the way of the movie. The action scenes were good, and there was a very modest amount of blood and gore. Why can’t all secular movies be like this? I don’t expect secular movies to be as clean as Christian movies, but sometimes they go over the top by having GDs and f-bombs all over the place. As opposed to using profanity in everyday conversation, it was only in places where you’d expect non Christians to use them.

To me, this movie was just as good as the first one, and I don’t think it would be inappropriate for older teens and adults.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 3½
—Frank, age 43 (USA)
Positive—Well, I only have one thing to say about this movie… I loved it!! The first one was awesome, and this one was just as good. Liam Neeson did an amazing job once again. I think that the violence in it is understandable, because he was trying to save his family. I also liked the fact that despite Bryan and Lenore being divorced, he still wants to be there for her. The scene with Kim and her boyfriend was slightly offensive. I do think, though, that Bryan brought a great comedic aspect to that scene. Also, I like the fact that Bryan was trying to stop all of the killing, but sometimes you just can’t make people understand, unfortunately. All in all I thought it was a great movie.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Christie, age 23 (USA)
Positive—It’s not quite as good as the first, but still an above-average movie. The first has a more suspense, drawn-out feel that was great, as the movie took place over several days as Liam Neeson investigated and tracked down the traffickers. This movie takes course over one day, pretty much, once it actually starts moving. The action is pretty good, and as I said, it’s a decent movie, but with less plot, it’s more a shoot-up movie, with things being resolved fairly quickly.

On a positive note, Liam’s character does get back with his ex wife, and repairs things with his daughter, pretty much. It ends well. Not sure how much more I can say without giving away the plot points…
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Andrew, age 21 (USA)
Positive—I am very surprised at all the poor reviews this is getting! I really enjoyed it. It focused on character development, rather than action, and the acting was phenomenal. The last movie was all action, and not nearly as memorable as this one, in my opinion. There was little objectionable content, and would make for a great guys or teen boy movie night.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Jason, age 30 (USA)
Neutral
Neutral—Be forewarned, there is A LOT of violence in this movie, way more then the first one, and it’s throughout the whole movie. I liked “Taken” 1, because it brought to the light the realities of human trafficking; this one, however, didn’t really deal with it much at all. And it was just flat out, violent, brutal abuse and murder, although, yes, he was defending himself. If you are into movies like that, then this is for you… it does have good suspense and crazy action, but it is very violent. I DO like high action movies and enjoyed all of the Borne movies, but this is just different.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Samantha, age 38 (USA)
Negative
Negative—I loved “Taken” 1. I thought it was well made and a good movie. “Taken 2,” however, is FULL of violence. Knowing it had the same premise as “Taken” 1, I looked forward to a movie with tension and suspense. I can tolerate minimal violence, and I don’t mind explosions, speeding cars, and wild, foot-chases. But this movie had so much violence, I skipped forward through most of the second half of the movie.

I thought it deserved a rated R rather than a PG-13. Make sure you do not have children with you to watch this movie. Without ruining it for you, let’s just say there are a lot of shooting scenes. I would not recommend this movie to anyone except a room full of tough guys!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Denise K., age 49 (USA)
Comments from young people
Positive—My dad and I went to see this for my 17th birthday. Having seen the first one several times (and absolutely loving it), I entered the theater with high hopes. As most of us know, sequels are never as good as the first (unless we’re talking Star Wars, LotR, or the Alien/Predator and Resident Evil movies). However, this movie… I’m not sure where to put it. It didn’t live up to my expectations, but I wasn’t disappointed. I suppose I could say I left with a “meh” feeling. I didn’t find it nearly as violent or intense as the first, which I found disappointing. Being a guy, I enjoy violent intense movies. However, there were quite a few scenes that made me cringe (i.e., a man’s back being broken, then his neck being snapped, and a man’s head smashed so hard against a wall it killed him).

One extremely refreshing element was that it didn’t involve prostitution rings. The first movie (even though I’d seen far worse) slightly disturbed me with the prostitution content. I was able to watch “Taken 2” without feeling uncomfortable. Another refreshing element was the extreme lack of profanity. I think I only counted 3-4 swear words in the entire movie, the strongest being G-D. I didn’t have a problem with the others (Hell, Oh my G_d, [and various other uses of the Lord’s Name] as my family, and I use them quite often), but seeing as some families dislike that sort of “cursing,” I figured it would be best to bring that to light. more »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Fyzix, age 17 (USA)

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