Pierre Morel’s original ‘old-man-kicking-ass’ flick Taken (2008) heralded the reinvention of Liam Neeson as the man we all wished was our dad. Sadly, its inevitable sequel Taken 2 (2012), sloppily assembled at the hands of the ludicrously-monikered Olivier Megaton, dilutes virtually everything that made the first film work against the odds. Set a year on from the events of the first film, noted killing machine Bryan Mills (Neeson) is reintroduced to audiences whilst on a ‘business’ trip to the Turkish city of Istanbul.
Upon arrival, Mills is greeted unexpectedly by his daughter Kim (Maggie Grace), and ex-wife Lenore (Famke Janssen). However, the sadistic Murad (Rade Šerbedžija), whose friends and family largely accounted for Mills’ trail of the dead last time, is out for revenge; as such, the thrust of Taken 2 – or rather, Taken Too – has Kim racing across Istanbul to try and recover her snatched ‘rents, untrained and entirely out-gunned as she is.
Without question, this is The Hangover Part II (2011) of action films, not only ludicrously implausible but lazy and soul-crushingly cynical, keen to milk the cash-cow while failing to reinvent the formula or, due to some horribly erratic editing in order to secure a neutered 12A rating, even thrill on the most basically visceral of levels. A promising start suggest self-awareness, but this promptly gives way to stodgy drama, with the titular event not taking place until we’re over half-an-hour in.
What really disappoints, however, is Megaton’s lifelessly dull action sequences; there is no energy or excitement as in even his deeply flawed other works, simply the sound of Fox ringing the cash register with a vile sense of urgency. Compounding this problem is the poor editing on the whole – not merely for rating purposes – in which impacts shots are difficult to follow because Megaton does not allow them to breathe for more than one quarter of a second each.
There is one genuinely entertaining scene in the entire film – when Bryan instructs his daughter how to use a shoelace, a pencil and some grenades to deduce his rough location – yet its MacGyver-inspired lunacy feels at odds with a tone that is otherwise achingly, depressingly self-serious, suggesting the scene was never meant to make us laugh in the first place. Sadly, Taken 2 can’t even deliver lowest common denominator thrills, instead brutally misfiring and wasting its entire cast – especially Neeson – with an alarming enthusiasm in the process.