"Megaton is a dab hand at the action stuff and creates some pretty amazing sequences"
When Taken came out back in 2008, it came out of nowhere. French director Pierre Morel and actor Liam Neeson made no bones about the fact they were fairly certain the film would wind up straight to DVD and that would be the end of it. But not even the filmmakers themselves predicted just how popular the film would become, achieving an almost cult like success with movie fans.
It’s fair to say that Taken wasn’t exactly Citizen Kane, but part of the films appeal was the trashy, low budget nature of it, the sheer joy of watching Liam Neeson tear his way through the Parisian underbelly hell bent on finding his kidnapped daughter and shooting anyone that stood in his way was a plot so fantastically manly, a testosterone fuelled joyride of giddy school boy excitement. Not to mention the now infamous ‘ I will find you, and I will kill you’ speech which is surely up there with Martin Luther King’s ‘I have a dream’ ….ok well maybe not but it’s still pretty good!
With the unexpected success of Taken, it was only a matter of time before the word sequel was uttered and sure enough Neeson has reprised his role as best dad in the world alongside the unluckiest family in the world for Taken 2. Now I know what you’re thinking, really…his daughter’s been kidnapped again!? But director Olivier Megaton has cobbled together a fairly coherent narrative which see’s the families of those who suffered at the hands of Bryan Mills in the first film, take their revenge targeting his family on holiday in Instanbul and kidnapping Bryan and his wife (the daughter evades capture this time round!).
Obviously it’s not long before Mills breaks free with the help of his daughter who is able to locate her father using a clever system of randomly throwing grenades into public areas by which Mills can deduce how far away she is..genius!
Fans will be divided by the film, it’s certainly an enjoyable romp although the film did get a lot of laughs in a number of scenes that I don’t think were necessarily intended to be humorous but that’s not a bad thing, because for me part of the fun of Taken 2 is the shared experience of the first film, there’s a certain kitsch value, with even a few little nods to Taken including Neesons line ‘Im going to do what I do best’ which elicited rapturous applause and wooping from the audience.
Neeson turns in a solid performance, you can’t help but think his character is perhaps a little too protective and it’s hard to imagine a regular dad putting in this amount of effort to track down his loved ones, but he does always seem to be right! But he’s not all shoot first ask questions later, he gets a chance to loosen up in this film and take on a more familiar dad role when he encounters his daughter's boyfriend which provides a few laughs.
It’s not as good as Taken, that much is clear on first inspection. If this had been the first film instead there’s no way it would have had the same reaction. Taken came out of nowhere, it was low fi, over the top and slightly tongue in cheek and it was always going to be hard for Taken 2 to capture that same energy.
Having said that though, Megaton (Transporter 3, Colombiana) is a dab hand at the action stuff and creates some pretty amazing sequences, in particular a high speed car chase through the tiny Instanbul alleyways. The fighting sequences with Neeson are impressive too however Megaton insists on putting the audience smack bang into the centre of the action, so much so we can barely make out whose punching who!
So is this the start of a potential franchise now? As a stand alone film Taken 2 doesn’t exactly create waves but the film will definitely find it’s audience in the huge Taken fan base and that could easily prompt more films!
My money's on either his daughter taking over in a plot that could see her new boyfriend get kidnapped! Or perhaps we could fast forward 20 years and Bryan is now a doddering retired pensioner whose winter fuel allowance gets taken! Time will tell but it's good to have Neeson back!