Monday, 1 October 2012

Taken 2

12, 2012, Directed by Olivier Megaton
Starring: Liam Neeson, Maggie Grace, Famke Janssen, Rade Serbedzija  

Kudos to whoever thought that Liam Neeson could play Bryan Mills, an ex-bodyguard with a particular set of skills; skills that have launched him in to something of a later-in-life action hero.  2008’s Taken was by no means a boundary-pusher, but an unexpected sleeper hit whose popularity grew with its violence (originally handed a 15-certificate, the film was amped up to an 18 for the Extended DVD cut.) An oft-quoted, undeniably epic mantra for Neeson later, which has arguably opened up the actor’s recognition to a generation who were unaware of Oskar Schindler or didn’t take to Love Actually, and has led to a slew of similar roles in Unknown (Taken with amnesia) and Battleship (the less said the better,) Pierre Morel’s out-and-out action flick has spawned the unlikeliest of highly-anticipated sequels.
There is no pretence that Taken 2 is going to deliver something different from before in the sense of genre, but a savvy spin on the original’s plot sees, not the antagonised, innocent and strangely likeable daughter Kim (LOST’s Maggie Grace) er, taken…but rather mummy and daddy, leaving the honour to Kim of equipping herself with a gun and nonchalantly throwing grenades around Istanbul. More intriguingly, the fact that the captor is the father to one of the hundreds of casually dispatched Albanians from the original adds, dare it be said, a sense of realism to proceedings. Not to mention that Neeson is on legendary form, clearly having the most fun he's possibly ever had on celluloid. But that’s where the credit runs dry. Because Taken 2, quite unfortunately, becomes the mess Taken just about managed to evade. 

Less than halfway into the face-punching and arse-kicking, and just after you wonder whether you've wandered into some kind of Mills-family sitcom, it's plain to see there is nothing new to add here. Potential standout scenes fall grossly short of the mark with brilliantly-named director Olivier Megaton solely relying on Neeson's delivery of Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen's downright dodgy script. Even the action misfires with the frenetic fights and chaotic car chases edited in such a way that to concentrate could be guilty of inducing a headache... Shameful for an action film. For a sequel to such a guilty pleasure? Disappointing.

 If taken more seriously and treated like less of a mock-up of itself, Taken 2 could have caught on as a belter. One can’t help but wonder if Megaton refused the almost bloodless 12A route, and instead embraced the opportunity to whet fans' appetites at the thought of a third film whether this could have been the unlikeliest of highly-anticipated sequels... superior to its predecessor. 

Instead, he's found it...and he has killed it.