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Taken 2 Has Been Getting Horrible Reviews: Here’s Why

Taken 2
Directed by Olivier Megaton
Written by Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen
Fox, 2012

Taken 2 might be one of the most unnecessary sequels ever, although it has to wade through a whole bunch of Friday the 13ths and Halloweens and Miss Congeniality 2 to really take the title.  So we shrug.  It might as well get a sequel.  The original Taken came out of nowhere in January of 2009, opening with an OK $20 million but going on to gross $145 million once word got out that Liam Neeson is angry and kills people.

I’m one of those who liked the original Taken.  Movies like that are cathartic: they are a neverending beatdown of badassery.  There’s nothing the hero can’t do, especially when we’ve been given the vague information that the main character has “a certain set of skills that make men like me a nightmare.”  That phrase could literally mean anything.  If Liam Neeson all of the sudden transformed into Megatron, we might let that slide.  But Taken had the suspension of disbelief that the original Die Hard had: it’s a normal guy, but he’s been given training and guts we’ll never have.  And the cause was great: it’s his daughter, she’s being sold into sex enslavement.  Kill those fuckers.

Taken 2 is less noble, and thus we give less of a shit.  And plus, it’s way more ludicrous than should be allowed.  Here’s the simple story: Murad Krasniqi (perpetual Russian/vaguely Russian bad guy Rade Serbedzija) is upset that Bryan Mills (Neeson) killed his sons in the last movie.  He wants to get this fuck where he breathes! He wants to find this nancy-boy Bryan Mills, wants him DEAD! Wants his family DEAD! Wants his house burned to the GROUND! He wants to go there in the middle of the night and PISS ON HIS ASHES!  Mills and his ex-wife Lenore (the still-fetching Famke Jannsen) and his daughter Kim (Maggie Grace) decide to retreat to Istanbul for a vacation, because that’s what people do all the time.  It’s Istanbul, not Constantinople, for you Philistines out there.

I can’t really discuss what is bothersome about this movie without going into some spoilers.  But I think anyone who has ever watched one movie, or especially interested in this review, knows what kind of movie they are going to watch and there won’t be many surprises anyway.

So an example of the unbelievability in this movie…SPOILER: The phone call in the trailer.

In Taken 2 there is a point where Mills knows he’s being followed and likely a bunch of shit is going to go down.  He tells his ex-wife to follow a complicated set of directions to get out of harm’s way.  She does, then he proceeds to steal a taxi and drive off, but as always, bad guys catch up.   A bunch of the bad guys surround Liam Neeson, and he isn’t having it.  Ass-beating occurs, as is the usual.  His stupid ex-wife got caught anyway and one of the bad guys holds leverage over him as Mills is about to kill everyone.  This is where Mills decides to slowly reach for his phone, make a phone call to Kim, and tell her that he and her mother about to be taken, and she needs to go to a safe place.  Meanwhile, I’m sitting in the auditorium thinking, “WHY WOULD YOU LET HIM MAKE A PHONE CALL?”  There’s not even a warning, or even the bad guy trying to stop it from happening.  “Oh yeah, go ahead and make your phone call.  All kidnapped persons get one.”

SPOILER DONE.  So anyway, there are numerous points in this movie where it whips you around and pummels you with unbelievable moments.  Character actions don’t make sense, and the action is filmed carelessly (although, that’s mostly the norm these days).  We had a cause to believe in with the first Taken, it drove the action and we loved it because it was icy cold justice being served.  This movie…the bad guys are just too dumb for this.  They aren’t prepared.  They had to have heard stories about how good this guy was, but they make all the classic villain mistakes, including that spoiler one above that I have never seen in any movie because, in the history of movie-making, someone would have called attention to how dumb it was while it was being filmed.  I mean, don’t you think Neeson turned to somebody and said, “This doesn’t make sense!” and the filmmakers were like, “Ughhhh…there’s no time!  Think of the money.  ACTION.”

It doesn’t matter anyway, and the filmmakers know that.  It’s not surprising that Transporter 3 director Olivier Megaton is behind this. In fact, it’s the exact same team of Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen as writers, too. They didn’t have to try.  They just had to slap Taken 2 on a movie with Liam Neeson and they knew you’d come to watch it.  So, these guys can’t be bothered to make an interesting, or coherent, film.  You can’t blame them when their soft work cashes in this opening weekend.

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