Its taken an age but I have finally watched Taken 2. I am a big fan of the first Taken, as are most it seems, so I was a little apprehensive at a sequel. Where could the story go? The first one is wrapped up nicely, Dad saves Daughter and they all live happily ever after. Taken 2 however asks the question ‘what about the henchmen?’ To be fair, Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) does brutally murder tens of men and seemingly gets away with it, there were bound to be repercussions!
Upon its release I fear Taken 2 got a lot of shtick, in fact if you search ‘Taken 2’ on WordPress alone most hits are “Top 10 worst films of 2012” and the like. I heeded the warnings and didn’t go and see it at the cinema, despite actually being really intrigued to see if the haters were right. Plus I had to see if Liam Neeson could still kick butt at the ripe age of 60.
The story wont take much explaining… Mills goes on a work trip to Istanbul, his ex-wife ‘Leni’ and daughter Kim take him up on the offer of a mini break and surprise him out there. Meanwhile, the Father of one the henchman from Taken has rallied a group of equally faceless men to seek revenge on Mills. Shit goes down in Istanbul.
The story line might sound sloppy, and another ‘taking’ might have led some to scoff at the films lack of originality – BUT I really enjoyed this film! There have been a lot worse cases of sequels lacking imagination… *cough* Saw, Paranormal Activity, Ocean’s *cough cough* I could go on forever. It is the same story re-jigged, and in the same world as the previous film so of course there will be similarities. Ok I wont sing it’s praises too much, like any great film, the sequel just isn’t as good. But it definitely has its strong points.
Firstly, I really liked Mills and daughter Kim’s relationship. It is clear Mills is trying his damdest to be a great Dad and Kim appreciates his efforts. She isn’t a spoilt kid who ‘just wants to be left alone’ and be with her new boyfriend, she doesn’t fly off the handle when he tracks her down at her new boyfriends house to take her on a driving lesson. This being because, rightly so, she is still pretty traumatised by the events in Taken. I hate films where in the sequel no body seems to have any mental scarring from the life changing ordeals of the previous film. I found this realistic and refreshing, and really enjoyed Mills and Kim’s moments together. Particularly when Mill tries to probe Kim on her love life – any daughter knows that is the most cringy topic, and I’m sure any father who has a teenage daughter will often try and pretend their daughter doesn’t actually have a love life. I really like Maggie Grace who plays Kim too, must look out for her in other roles, mental note!!
A fun moment of the film is just before Mills goes away on his work trip, he is having BBQ with his old buddies. Like the first film, they are ribbing him about his family life, and a quick snippet of this old comradary brings you back to the first movie when Mills has no idea how his life will change after he gets on that plane to Europe… de ja vu! But I liked that moment, it also reminded you that he is a normal guy, nearing retirement, just getting on with his life.
Now, Mills has skills, we all know this, a special set of skills… He uses them very wisely, and to an even fuller effect than the first time I would say. Instructing Kim on how to help him, he talks her through how to find himself and Leni, and it was pretty cleverly done. I wont ruin it for potential new audiences but I thoroughly enjoyed this part of the film. Maggie Grace gets much more of a ballsy character to play, and we get to see a bit of logic to this ‘set of skills’ we heard so much about in the first film. Probably all inaccurate and those more knowledgeable than I might say it was ridiculous, but I found it wholly believable and entertaining.
There is even a car chase, not your conventional car chase I might add. Kim gets to drive, and daddy gets to shoot the bad guys on the way. I couldn’t help thinking it was like a really intense driving lesson. One where your Dad is getting annoyed with you because you’re not learning fast enough, and you, the learner driver, are crapping your pants that you’re going to fast (even if you are travelling 30 miles per hour), and panicking under pressure. Mills is shouting “come on” “faster” “hurry up” “lets go” and poor Kim is crying “I’m trying” “I can’t”. But she does very well and they have a pretty good pursuit through the streets of Istanbul.
Unfortunately like the first one, Famke Janssen who plays Leni doesn’t get to do a lot in Taken 2. Jean, I mean Leni does get kidnapped but doesn’t do or say a lot during the ordeal (she may be other wise engaged) but I would have liked to see a bit more of her character. She seems to have a fighting spirit and I think it could have been used a bit more in exchanges with the bad guy, Murad Krasniqi (Rade Serbedzija who is a very convincing bad guy of course). Let’s just say it was quite convenient for every one involved if she was subdued.
Toward the climax of the film, I did feel it was being rushed. After a slightly lacking shoot out, but a pretty decent one on one fighting action, the bad guys demise was very anti-climactic. I also felt that maybe the dialogue between Mills and Murad could have been a little more hard hitting. But like he said, he was pretty tired. Also 60 years old and had just killed a bunch of dudes, so think we can cut him some slack for not being so quick thinking with his come backs (he is no Arnie after all).
Over all then I think I must have fairly enjoyed this film! That is until the end scene with the ice cream… Taken 2 was no Taken 1 that’s fo sho, BUT it was an easy watch, entertaining, and another excuse to see Liam Neeson do his thang and kick some ass in a leather jacket.
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