October 7, 2012

Movie Review: Taken 2

When Taken came out a few years back, it was not supposed to be a hit. It had already been through European theaters and was already out on DVD in writer/producer Luc Besson's native France. Still, people, me included, latched onto Liam Neeson as bad ass shtick and the movie found great success. Now, the idea of a sequel was inevitable with the prior success, but the prospect of such a prospect was a bit daunting. How do you follow that up?

Well, Taken 2: Electric Boogaloo is here and it has not been greeted with open arms. Simply put, it has a relationship to its originator as The Hangover 2 has to its vastly superior predecessor. It has not been garnering good critical buzz. I am here to tell you to ignore the haters and enjoy. Sure, the movie is ridiculous, unbelievable, and not as good as the first. None of this means it is not a slick, entertaining thriller. Right?

The sequel takes the some of the details of the first and broadens them. Almost to the point of self parody. For example, Bryan Mills' (Liam Neeson) over protective after routine is played a bit for laughs, then there is Kim (near 30-year old Maggie Grace playing a 16-year old) trying to get a drivers license and then pulling off a skilled chase through Istanbul with a standard transmission no less. It is not as tightly focused as the first, but still offers plenty to like.

The first film had the daughter kidnapped in Paris with the intention of selling her into sex slavery. This time we have the father of one of the murdered men from the first using his resources to extract revenge. So, instead of the daughter, it is the whole family, minus the daughter who managed to elude capture and is now being talked through survival tips.

We have two threads to follow, Bryan's escape and Kim's attempt to help with a rescue. It still comes down to Liam Neeson kicking ass, but with a little bit of help this time. I do like how it is tied to the first film and how there is an attempt to old the hero responsible for the trail of death left in his wake.

Taken 2 is another film from Luc Besson's action/thriller factory. I have always enjoyed the output of him and his stable. There is a nice slick look and a real tangible feel. Taken 2 does not rely on CG input. Olivier Megaton directed this one and he brings a certain relentless energy to the tale and keeps it moving.

There really isn't anything new or fresh with this movie. It essentially takes the leftovers of he first film, thins them out, and puts them back on the screen, if you have seen he first film, you know what is going to happen here. There are no surprises. In my eyes, this is a case of a formula working. Formulas are no always bad, it is all about the execution and the execution here works. It is all in the name of entertainment and it works.

Liam Neeson puts on his game face and is a lot of fun to watch as he uses his "particular set of skills" to great effect. His opposite is Rade Serbedzija, who plays the bad guy with great relish. He is pretty easy to believe as a bad guy, he oozes menace.

What I comes down to is this is a piece of entertainment. It delivers. The action is fun, the performances work, and I have no problem with what is put up on screen. In fact, I quite liked I and have no problem recommending it.


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