The original Taken was one of 2008’s best movies, directed by Pierre Morel and written by Luc Besson with Robert Mark Kamen. This sequel is also written by Besson, but is written by Olivier Megaton, also with Kamen. The first was relatively realistic.
In the first Liam Neeson’s daughter was taken in Paris and Neeson spent the entire film finding her and killing her abductors. In this sequel Neeson and his wife (Famke Janssen) are taken in Istanbul and the rest of the film is Neeson escaping and killing his abductors.
This one, while tense, is loaded with some pretty silly things. I don’t know which is the silliest, so I’ll just list a couple of them. Neeson uses a handgun that he must’ve found in the Republic Pictures prop room because it never needs loading. Liam just shoots and shoots and shoots and the bullets keep coming. I haven’t seen a gun like that since Gene Autry and Roy Rogers stopped riding the range.
The second one is Neeson’s remarkable ability to find a needle in a haystack. The way he figures out where he is located after he and his wife are abducted and blindfolded is, indeed, ingenious. However, when he starts going to look for his wife credulity is strained to the breaking point.
Maybe the weakest part of the film is that the bad guys just aren’t that hateful. They are led by the father of the men killed by Neeson in Taken, but the leader, being the father of a slain son, is basically just a loving father bent on revenge, even if his son had been a monster. His henchmen are basically nameless and faceless people whose only purpose is to be slain by Neeson.
Because of the bad word-of-mouth, and because I did not see it in a screening, I was not expecting much here. So I was pleasantly surprised when I spent a relatively entertaining hour and a half. The cinematography (Michael Abramowicz) of Istanbul is particularly rewarding, and the actors (especially Maggie Grace who reprises her role as Neeson’s daughter) all give fine performances.