Movie review – Bad sequel Taken too far

2012-10-13 06:37

Film:Taken 2 (Nu Metro)

Director: Olivier Megaton

Featuring: Liam Neeson, Famke Janssen, Maggie Grace and Rade Šerbedžija

Rating: 5/10

Taken was a hit in 2008 because it fulfilled our inner vigilante – the idea that if you are wronged, you can just go for it and klap your enemy until he’s really, really sorry he messed with you.

Almost all of us subjugate this part of ourselves in real life and reason prevails. But in the movies, anything goes.

It is a great tragedy that writers Luc Besson and Mark Kamen were seduced by the siren call of box-office returns to write a sequel to Taken.

It is an also-ran – and run they do, all over Istanbul, Turkey.

The righteous indignation that fuelled the suspension of belief necessary to buy into a story about one man who takes on and defeats an entire clan of ruthless killers is not quite there this time.

We pick up the action with Bryan Mills (played by Liam Neeson) still keeping an eagle eye on the daughter he rescued from sex-slave traffickers in the first film.

His daughter Kim (Maggie Grace) seems to be miraculously relaxed about her recent ordeal and just wants to be normal.

Her mother and Bryan’s ex-wife, Lenore (Famke Janssen), meanwhile, has been dumped by her super-rich second husband, leaving the fireplace where love is rekindled fully stocked with logs and firelighters.

While this shiny, happy American family is putting the pieces back together, a bunch of nasty-looking fellows are vowing vengeance on Bryan, who murdered their sons in his one-man war on their trafficking ring.

The head baddie is so bad he almost snarls through every scene and seems devoid of any humanity at all.

His plan is to kidnap Bryan and his family, and transport them to his hometown in Albania to kill them slowly.

It’s a plan fraught with escape possibilities when you consider how efficiently Bryan dispatched an entire ring of traffickers in the first film.

A bit like the convoluted death scenes in 007 movies, the baddies always get their comeuppance because they are too squeamish to just shoot the guy in the head.

Needless to say, the opportunity to kidnap the Mills family comes when they are on a trip to Istanbul. (It wouldn’t do for a film made for an American audience to make people at home feel unsafe. Imagine the panic if a bunch of dodgy-looking Albanians could just bundle you into their van in a leafy Californian suburb.)

In all, the director carves this film up into a series of “been there, seen that” chase scenes that fail dismally.

It’s basically one long chase through the streets of Istanbul that becomes increasingly ridiculous as Bryan fires bullets around indiscriminately and then tells his daughter to set off grenades all over a city teeming with people.

As she’s standing on a roof surveying the city, he says to her over the phone: “Can you throw it somewhere safe?”

This stupid question epitomises the daftness of this sequel.

It’s possible to cocoon yourself from the silliness for 90 minutes if you really try, but when reality returns you will realise that this bunch of film makers have committed the worst cinematic sin of all: repackaging a used idea and hoping you’ll still pay for it as if it’s a new one.

»Follow me on Twitter @GayleMahala


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