Director: Olivier Megaton (2012)
Starring: Liam Neeson, Maggie Grace, Famke Janssen
Find it: IMDB
Given that the director's name is Olivier Megaton, one might be lead to expect a lot more explosions from Taken 2 than one actually gets. Weighing in with a puny 12A rating, there are gunfights and fisticuffs aplenty in Taken 2, but never any impact. What it does get right, however, is its title's promise. There's lots of taking going on in Taken 2. Kidnap prone Kim (Grace) manages to stay out of the baddies' clutches, but no such luck for the rest of her family. Particularly taken (again and again) is wife Lenore, mostly because Neeson keeps leaving her behind.
Taken was a sleeper hit, taking (geddit) many by surprise and bringing about a career resurgence for Liam Neeson as Hollywood's go-to action guy. As with its predecessor, Neeson is the best reason to watch this sequel. It's certainly not for the bloodless action, which ranges between being incomprehensible to uninspired. No, Taken 2 succeeds only because Liam Neeson's Bryan Mills is a hilarious creation. His scenes with Maggie Grace are entirely uncomfortable, like spending the evening with a quietly lecherous relative. I honestly expected one early scene between the two of them to end with a kiss on the lips. He's certainly a lot more lapse in recovering his ex-wife than he was his daughter, constantly leaving her alone, semi-conscious in really dangerous places to get kidnapped again. That's one way to be rid of a third wheel. There are scenes in which Mills actually gets jealous of his daughter's new boyfriend. Taken 2 is a sweet romance between a man and his daughter. It's like a gender-switched Oedipus in reverse. Except this is definitely not Shakespeare.
I'm not being facetious by referring to Janssen's character as 'Lenny', by the way. It's actually Bryan Mills' pet name for his lover. Which just made me think of this, every time he said her name:
Taken 2 is a fun but silly and senseless action thriller with no gore, no grit and no gumption. The genuinely nasty threat of the first film's sex trade baddies gone, Neeson is left battling boring thugs who never stood a chance in the first place. Thankfully the big fella's presence alleviates the film's problems, his performance always fun to watch. The door is left slightly ajar for another sequel, but that would just be taken the piss.