The only thing surprising about “Taken 2” is that is wasn’t “taken” directly to DVD.
Forced, unenthusiastic acting and a predictable, melodramatic plot puts this has-been action thriller in the running to be one of the worst of the year.
French director Olivier Megaton, notorious for directing third-rate action flicks (“Transporter 3,” “Columbiana”), continues his streak of disappointing audiences and robbing them blind.
A scrubby, tired Liam Neeson (“The Grey”) returns to his role as Bryan Mills. However, it is clear that four years and several roles later, 60-year-old Neeson isn’t exactly interested in throwing himself into the part of Bryan. The youthful and energetic Neeson of “Taken” is no longer. Tight, intense fight scenes are replaced with slow and unemotional ones that feel highly choreographed.
Co-stars Famke Janssen (“The Chameleon”) and Maggie Grace (“Lost”) don’t impress either. But it’s easy to understand why actors would be disinterested when the material they are given is monotonous and unoriginal.
Yes, action movies are meant to thrill and excite the audience, but plot is just as important as any other ingredient. Movies like “The Bourne Legacy” pump every last cent they can out of a series without a regard for storyline. This is even more so the case in “Taken 2.” While the engineers, choreographers and cameramen did put a real effort into the movie, it is clear that the writers and producers did not.
There isn’t anything new or inventive about “Taken 2.” The movie is melodramatic. Actors are given lines so predictable and so cliché that at times, it is difficult not to burst out laughing.
In fact, “Taken 2” seems more like a collection of amateurishly written fan-fiction than a Hollywood production. This sequel sets Mill’s daughter Kim (Grace) as the rescuer, with Bryan and Lenora (Janssen) as the captives — that’s it! The only semblance of original thought is that Bryan emerges as a more committed father, one who is willing to put his past behind him in order to have a relationship with his daughter. However, this idea is poorly worked into the greater plot and does not shine through.
If the movie does have any value, it is in the ability to make the audience break out into laughter. When Mills comes up with an on-the-spot escape route that involves passing through five different buildings, a variety of tunnels and speaking with a man named Mustafa (to paraphrase), the audience realizes how ridiculous it sounds.
The film is completely dissimilar is the original “Taken,” which has a certain quality about it that makes it very watchable, at times even nail-bitingly exciting. Something about watching a father do everything in his power to save his daughter from a powerful, clandestine force brings “Taken” the raw, visceral emotion that “Taken 2” certainly lacks.
Despite the recent revival of mainstream cinema with films such as “Moonrise Kingdom” and “Robot & Frank,” flicks like “Taken 2” are still in high supply. When will Hollywood wake up?