The original Taken film did everything an action move should do. It was intense, realistic, exciting, and was headed by an amazing actor. But as is the case with every successful action movie, someone out there thinks it needs a sequel. Sometimes they’re right, sometimes they’re not.
And although Taken 2 is in no way a failure, it was one of the sequels that shouldn’t have necessarily been made.
Rather than having his daughter kidnapped, the writers thought it would be clever to have not only Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) taken, but his wife also (Famke Janssen in what is a very limited role).
And while I applaud the writers for trying to make the story at least somewhat interesting, the story is put in the backseat early on. The villains became dull almost right away, and they lack all the qualities that make a good villain. Instead they exist only as faceless thugs for Bryan to plow through.
Running at just over 90 minutes, Taken 2 moves at a very quick pace. And while a shorter film isn’t always a bad thing, everything is so crammed in here that it feels very rushed.
The beginning feels fine, it has good pacing and the suspense rises at a good tempo. But once the action starts, the film moves so fast it feels like the plot was almost forgotten. And it all ends in a climax that feels hurried along and a denouement that tries to be funny, but only succeeds at making you moan a little.
The movie goes from scene to scene quickly, giving us a number of fight scenes along the way. And although I always enjoy seeing Liam Neeson kick some butt, the blasted shaky cam detracted some of the thrills from what looked to be intense fights.
I have never been a big fan of the shaking camera, and moan every time it’s used. It’s a cheap trick to make things look cool and flashy, when all you’re accomplishing is giving your audience a migraine. I don’t remember the first Taken using this technique, and if they did, it wasn’t used as excessively.
I will say, after all that, that Taken 2 is not a bad film. I was thoroughly entertained throughout, and Liam Neeson is still one of the most gripping actors out there. This is no doubt his movie, and he absolutely eats it up. He’s cold, charming, intense, funny, and just so dang fascinating to watch. I haven’t disliked one of his movies.
Neeson really cements the film, and had any other action hero filled in for him, the movie would be much less interesting as well as lack what I think made the first so good. And I’m sure his rise to action her status is what made the second so financially successful already (it’s earned twice as much as the first in it’s opening weekend).
In the end, Taken 2 mostly accomplishes what it sets out to do, but stands on the shoulders of the original too much. It’s a fun action movie starring one of my favorite actors, and it’s just a shame it’s held back by some annoying cliches and an underdeveloped plot.
If you’re a fan of Liam Neeson or action movies in general, I don’t have to tell you Taken 2 is worth a watch. I would just recommend it as a Friday night rental.