It’s tough to describe a film that is so blatantly silly at every second of its runtime yet takes itself completely seriously. Not only is Taken 2 a rindonkulous cash grab but also a mild embarrassment to the great Liam Neeson – although one wonders if he would have time to feel embarrassed on his way to the bank.
To be fair even the original Taken was ludicrous, but it was a moderately fresh setup and it was fun to see Neeson using his ‘set of skills’ to knock baddies on their buttocks. The setup for the sequel remains the same – the story picks up where the first film left off – Neeson the ex-CIA badass is on a mission to reconcile with his wife (Famke Janssen) after rescuing his daughter (Maggie Grace) from human traffickers. His daughter’s trip to China gets canceled and daddy invites them both to Istanbul for a bit of family time. However the ruffian Murad (Rade Serbedzija) is pissed that Neeson killed his son in Taken and he kidnaps the hell out of Neeson and his wifey. This time, it’s the daughter who must use the genetically passed set of skills to find her parents before time runs out. Of course there is no explanation as to why Murad doesn’t kill Neeson straightaway instead of leaving him in a place that just gives him time and chances to escape. It feels like Murad’s reasoning was ‘Boy I’m gonna kidnap you so hard that it’s gonna hurt’.
Director Oliver Megaton has previously made Transporter 3 and Columbiana, and it shows. There are more asinine sequences in Taken 2 than in a Priyadarshan filmed action thriller. Grenades are tossed by the dozen but there is no sign of the cops. A freaking taxi is driven through a high security government building but the security personnel simply stop shooting and stare at the car zooming past. And of course said car is put to use based on the convenient plot point that the driver must pass her driving test. Silliness doesn’t matter if the mayhem is good, but there is little fun to be had in the action scenes, seeing as the stuntwork, kicks, shots and punches are obscured by rapid fire cuts and a constantly shivering camera. On the whole, Taken 2 is more of a lame remake of the first film, rather than a sequel, if you’re down with that, do watch it.
(First published in MiD Day)