Taken 2 (2012)

taken_two_ver2_xlgStarring 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

Expectations: Low.

twohalfstar


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.

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Lockout (2012)

lockout_posterStarring Guy Pearce, Maggie Grace, Vincent Regan, Joseph Gilgun, Lennie James, Peter Stormare, Jacky Ido, Tim Plester, Mark Tankersley, Anne-Solenne Hatte, Peter Hudson

Directed by James Mather & Stephen St. Leger

Expectations: Moderate.

twohalfstar


Lockout isn’t a movie I watched because I expected it to be good, I watched it because I expected it to be fun. There was a time when I scoffed at every pseudo-science fiction film Hollywood churned out, angry that my beloved genre was getting such a shaft in the name of dumb action. But times have changed and I’ve softened on these types of films quite a bit, so when I saw the trailer for this film set in a space prison, I was game. It really doesn’t take much these days.

Lockout tells the story of a guy named Snow, who’s NOT supposed to be some sort of Snake Plissken-esque character. He’s tasked with infiltrating MS-1, a maximum security space prison to rescue the president’s daughter. OK, I lied, he is supposed to be Snake Plissken-esque. But where the story and the character are pure retread, its execution is a little more interesting than simple ripoff (or homage, depending on your point of view).

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Taken (2008)

Starring Liam Neeson, Maggie Grace, Leland Orser, Jon Gries, David Warshofsky, Holly Valance, Katie Cassidy, Xander Berkeley, Olivier Rabourdin, Gérard Watkins, Famke Janssen

Directed by Pierre Morel

Expectations: Very high. I’ve seen it before.


Like Liam Neeson’s character in the film, Taken is a quick-moving, no-bullshit, relentless force. With this film, director Pierre Morel has crafted one of the best modern action movies that didn’t come out of Asia, and watching it for the second time didn’t diminish its impact much at all. When I first checked this one out, about four years ago, I hadn’t seen a fantastic action movie in what seemed like forever. So when Taken took control of my senses and didn’t let go for a solid 90 minutes, I was very much impressed. This time around, I’m a different person. I now have a website, and through it I have rediscovered my love of Hong Kong action cinema, so this viewing of Taken was through slightly different glasses.

Taken is about an ex-government operative (Liam Neeson), whose job caused him to be away from his family most of the time. He’s now estranged from his wife and he barely knows his daughter. In an effort not to be an overprotective asshole, Neeson agrees to allow his daughter to travel to Paris, against his better judgment. And like a true gentleman, he never says “I told you so” when she and her friend get kidnapped within their first hour on the ground in France.

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