Starring Liam Neeson, Maggie Grace, Famke Janssen, Leland Orser, Jon Gries, D.B. Sweeney, Luke Grimes, Rade Serbedzija, Kevork Malikyan, Alain Figlarz
Directed by Olivier Megaton
Have you ever had a sandwich made with stale bread that fell apart as you were eating it? That’s kinda how Taken 2 is. While I greatly enjoyed the middle section of the film, even as unbelievable and ridiculous as some of it was, the first and third acts were pretty damn mediocre. The opening clumsily references the previous film and sets up a contrived situation so that now more than one of Neeson’s family members are in peril. And the ending… well, we’ll get to that.
Taken 2 is a completely unnecessary sequel to a great film. There’s no reason to make this other than a paycheck, but based on my love of the original, I was willing to put those feelings aside enough to enjoy a dumb action movie. I didn’t expect it to be Taken, I just hoped that it wasn’t quite so bad as others have made it out to be. I guess this is where my love of bad movies comes in, as I was largely able to enjoy what Taken 2 was shoveling, despite the dumb story, some horrid editing and a ridiculous amount of close-ups limiting the audience’s field of view.
I tolerated the opening act because I figured something better had to be coming, so when the middle section arrived and it was a lot of dumb fun, I was rather hopeful. This middle section could also be picked apart ad nauseam if one were so inclined, but action movies are not designed for that kind of scrutiny. If I questioned why Arnold was doing even 25% of the things he did in any of his classics, I’d end up hating everything I once held dear. Just have fun and roll with it. It’s designed to thrill and entertain, so there’s no shame in being thrilled and entertained by it. Sure, instructing someone to randomly throw grenades around a crowded city might not be the best idea, but his options were limited and it works if you suspend your disbelief enough.
The most frustrating thing about Taken 2, though, is that after this thrilling, extended section of tense situations, the film completely deflates. I understand that films need to have a pace and that said pace cannot be “ALL ACTION ALL THE TIME AAAHHHHHHH,” but there is such a thing as well-paced and not well-paced. I happened to find the third act of Taken 2 completely anti-climactic and poorly paced. But maybe that’s not the real issue here. Maybe it’s more to do with the over-edited martial arts fight that is scored by intensely over-dramatic, emotional music. Not only does the music feel completely wrong, the fight is so choppy that it’s very hard to follow. Perhaps this is more my problem because of my focus on martial arts films, but it was definitely not the way I wanted the end of this one to go down. I will say that the fight looked well-choreographed, but a good portion of that is quickly negated by that pesky, quick-cut editing and the highly prevalent Saving Private Ryan strobe effect (caused by altering the shutter angle). They had to check every modern action movie box.
But even these qualms didn’t completely diminish my entertainment, so I ended up liking this one even though I should probably be more critical. It’s definitely not one to think about too much, or see a second time, as I can only imagine it getting worse on repeat views. Taken 2 is a sequel that should have never been, but for what it is it does entertain and provide some fair “family members in distress” action.