Prepare to be Taken... Again

TAKEN-2When released in theaters in 2008, Taken w as a b ox-office s mash. Audiences flocked to theaters to watch Academy Award nominee Liam Neeson (starring in the role of Brian Mills) mercilessly beat and kill dozens of European gangsters who planned on selling his kidnapped daughter into prostitution. The chilling phone conversation between Mills and the kidnapper, during which he ominously tells the man, “I will look for you, I will find you, and I will kill you,” will undoubtedly become one of those classic clichéd action movie lines, to be quoted often, satirically or not, for generations to come.

The sequel, Taken 2, was released on October 5. It places Brian, his daughter Kim (Maggie Grace), and his ex-wife, Lenore (Famke Janssen), on a family vacation in Istanbul. The first half of the movie is primarily background – there is a lot of interaction between Brian and his family and a lot of dialogue revealing that he was not a very good father before his divorce from Lenore. The movie shows romance rekindling between Brian and Lenore, and a better relationship growing between him and his daughter. The sentimentality explored here is boring, but nevertheless important to the plot. After all, the movie needs to establish Brian as a human being before expecting the audience to care whether his family lives or dies.

Now, if you were expecting anything more refined or sophisticated than the original movie, or if you were hoping that director Oliver Megaton had devoted more effort into crafting a deep and moving narrative, you are going to be deeply disappointed. But if you just wanted to watch another movie with Liam Neeson running around metropolitan Europe and shooting the majority of people that he meets, then you are in for a treat.

The friends of the Albanian gangsters from the first movie, led by crime boss Murad Hoxha (Rade Serbedzija), arrive to take their vengeance on Brian. They kidnap him and Lenore while they are out on a relaxing lunch date, giving Brian only enough time to call his daughter and tell her “your mother and I are about to be taken” (a clever nod to the first movie, where Neeson and Grace had an almost identical phone conversation). Murad reveals himself to Brian as the father of Marko Hoxha, the man who led the gang that kidnapped Kim in Paris. In the original film, Brian electrocutes Marko to death after interrogating him. Murad seeks to kill Brian and his entire family as an act of revenge.

But what kind of action movie would it be if that was where it ended? Without giving away too many plot details, this is basically what happens next; Brian uses a small cell phone hidden in his shoe to call his daughter. Once he is found and given weapons, the remainder of the movie consists of Neeson killing heavily armed Albanians with a combination of one pistol and his bare hands. The last half hour of the movie is basically a big traveling gunfight.

Not that this formula is a bad thing. This is the classic action movie recipe right here – some cheesy dialogue and clever one-liners, an Eastern European bad guy with a motive for vengeance, and a highly paid A-list Hollywood actor with a handgun and an anger problem. The recipe works. The movie was fantastic. It was one of those action movies that had me shouting and cheering every time Neeson killed a gangster in a particularly brutal fashion.

The movie was so entertaining that I didn’t even take issue with the fact that the main character was played by a sixty-year-old former Jedi Master. It actually made the movie that much better for me. The premise might have gotten tired after a while if Brian Mills was some young, daring, worldclass superspy taking down a criminal syndicate in a foreign country. Instead, we get to see this old guy, who we know is just trying to be a regular old blue-collar dad, shooting his way through swarms of these stubbly, dirty, leather jacket-clad Albanians whose real crime – at least, to Brian – was picking the wrong family to hold a grudge against. It just makes it so much more badass that he doesn’t even break a sweat afterwards.

In a nutshell, the movie is worth seeing if you enjoyed the original Taken. The makers of Taken 2 knew exactly what they were setting out to do. They don’t try to sell it as something more than it is, and they don’t try to do something grander than what they should. They just cut together an enjoyable 91-minute film about a man who would do anything for his family – even if that thing is ruthlessly slaughtering an entire village of Albanian criminals.

IMAGE TAKEN fromcreambmp.com