Reviewed by: Ryan Callaway
Liam Neeson … Bryan Mills
Maggie Grace … Kim
Famke Janssen … Lenore
Leland Orser … Sam
Jon Gries … Casey
D.B. Sweeney … Bernie
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|Distributor||Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation|
“First they took his daughter. Now they’re coming for him.”
“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.