Maybe it’s just me, but personally a title to a film leaves a big impression, which is why I wasn’t that excited for this sequel. Taken 2? Really? We couldn’t get more creative than that? It doesn’t need to be anything ridiculous, like Taken 2 the Bowels of Istanbul or Stop Taken My Family, though I personally would have loved the latter. Let’s just try to be a little less boring.
This lack of originality in the title pours over into the story of the film, which starts out by already forcing the plot when Liam Neeson invites his emotionally anguished ex-wife and daughter to visit him in Istanbul for a much-needed vacation. Obviously they drop everything and come right over, just in time for the families of Neeson’s victims from the previous film to make their way over for some sweet revenge. But this time they have their eyes set on bigger game.
Much bigger game, that definitely shows his age this time around. Throughout the runtime Neeson is running around in such a way that can be described as the only struggle for him in the film; it’s laborious and slow, like The Thing (from Fantastic Four), but less orange. Yet he just keeps coming anyway, switching quickly into a grizzly bear style clobbering time, which basically includes him using his giant mitts to swat at the smaller people around him. The manipulative camera work and editing attempts to cover this, but it doesn’t take a trained eye to see past these tricks.
But at least he isn’t his daughter. You remember her from the last one, right? The virtuous victim? She is still that young girl this time around, but she is forced into a situation to fight for her family in such a way that quickly moves past the realm of believability for the girl she is presented to be. A key example: at one point she is stuck in the driver’s seat of a car chase, working the manual transmission like a professional stunt driver instead of the girl who has failed her drivers test 3 times already.
Even if she is far from an action star in these moments, at least there is a chance of her failing. There are actual stakes and she struggles, unlike her terminator father. There is a reason that the Terminator was the villain at first. An unstoppable force like that is a scary opponent to be pitted against, but when you’re cheering for that side the lack of struggle completely depletes the suspense of the non-varying story. There is never any doubt in Neeson, and that makes one boring film.
Considering I wasn’t a huge fan of the first film, my rant in the intro paragraph, and the 7% Rotten Tomatoes score (at the time I saw the film), there was little to no doubt that I wasn’t going to come out of this screening a fan. Then again, this may have worked in the film’s favor since there wasn’t room for disappointed, allowing for my less that mediocre stamp on Taken 2. It is still Neeson, after all, but if I could name this film it would be Taken: Once Too Many.
Final grade: C-