Taken 2 (2012) review

Taken 2 posterDirector: Olivier Megaton

Starring: Liam Neeson, Maggie Grace, Famke Janssen, Rade Serbedzija

BRYAN – “If I kill you, your other sons will come and seek revenge?”
MURAD – “They will.”
BRYAN – “And I will kill them too.”

When the hero in an action movie ploughs his way through countless baddies, butchering and slaughtering them in the name of our entertainment (as well as whatever cockamamie reason the plot’s given him, of course), we never spare a thought for the families of the recently deceased.

After all, for every nameless terrorist, anonymous criminal and nondescript thug there’s a mother, a father and maybe even a wife and children somewhere mourning the death of a man who may have been a bit of a prick in real life but was always good to them at least. We’re usually never shown these devoted family members in films though, because it humanises the enemies and makes you feel sorry for them, when all you’re supposed to be thinking is “YES, chuck that fanny over the cliff”.

Taken 2 pic 1
“There’s the prick who told me to change at Kennington”

This is the thinking behind Taken 2, which takes place a few months after the events of the first film. Naturally, in order for me to describe the plot you’re going to have to accept that there are a couple of very minor spoilers from the first film ahead (nothing that you couldn’t reasonably predict yourself though).

After Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) killed a load of Albanians on the way to his kidnapped daughter in the first Taken, the families of the deceased receive the bodies and vow to get revenge on the man that, in their eyes, butchered a village’s worth of young men. Through the traditional Taken plot methods (i.e. absurdly unlikely coincidences) they find Bryan on holiday in Turkey with his ex-wife (Famke Janssen) and daughter Kim (Maggie Grace).

Kidnapping the daughter wouldn’t be very original – and after all, the last time someone tried that it resulted in a busload’s worth of bodies – so this time the families of the previous villains decide to go straight to the source and kidnap Bryan instead. Oh, and his ex-wife too, seeing as she’s in the area at the time.

Taken 2 pic 2
“Don’t worry dad, I’m being sure to expose as much skin as is possible within the confines of a 15 rating”

It’s an interesting decision because it flips the tables around – instead of playing the helpless kidnapped daughter, this time Kim is the reluctant heroine, forced to find and rescue her parents in a country where she doesn’t speak the language and doesn’t understand the customs (all while wearing a conveniently skimpy bikini, jean shorts and open shirt combo, of course).

Mind you, she seems to adapt well, and before long she’s on the phone to her imprisoned dad, getting instructions on how to find him and wreck the bloody joint in the process. I lost count of how many grenades she throws and car crashes she causes while trying to find her old man, and before long my sympathies were split between Kim, her parents and the innocent people of Istanbul as their city is subject to countless explosions and road accidents.

Whereas the villains in the first film are undoubtedly pure evil and there’s no trace of conscience as you whoop at Liam Neeson while he stabs, shoots and electrocutes the nasty buggers, Taken 2‘s lead baddie (played well by Rade Serbedzija) does actually turn things around a little because you can at least understand his plight a little.

Taken 2 pic 3
N Sync realised they were out of shape and needed more dance practice

His son was a bad bastard, of that there can be no doubt, but as he puts it he was always kind and loving to his family, and as such in his eyes, his innocent child was taken away from him and he wants Neeson to pay for it. He’s mistaken, of course, and his subsequent actions throughout the film are the perfect example of two wrongs not making a right, but you can at least understand his motivation for wanting to kill Neeson – he’s not simply being a prick for no apparent reason.

Taken 2 has a different feel to its predecessor and while it’s still a decent enough action film it’s not quite as compelling or exciting as the first film (though the final confrontation ends nicely). That said, I still look forward to the inevitable third Taken, where the people of Istanbul – infuriated at Kim throwing grenades around and smashing up their cars – get the US government to take her driver’s license and travel Visa away.

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HOW CAN I SEE IT?
Brits can get Taken 2 on DVD, Blu-ray, a snazzy Blu-ray Steelbook or as part of a DVD box set or Blu-ray boxset along with the first film. Phew. It’s easier if you’re American because it’s DVD or Blu-ray only and that’s your lot. It’s also available to rent or download on Amazon Instant Video.

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