Film: Taken 2
Starring: Liam Neeson
Directed by: Olivier Megaton
I have done my best over the years to accept every sequel that came down the Hollywood pipeline with an open mind. We live in a time where the demand for video content makes anything with even the slightest diehard fanbase worthy of becoming a franchise (as long as it can be done cheaply, of course), and this weekend moviegoers around the world will likely witness first hand what happens when the desire to cash in outweighs the notion of quality filmmaking. Taken 2 is as far from a proper follow-up, let alone an engaging film, as any sequel released theatrically could possibly be, and not even the great Liam Neeson can save it.
When released, Taken became the little action film that could, scoring great returns during a Winter box office. People love tales of parents going to extremes for their children, and no other film in recent memory has done so in such a visceral way while still finding acceptance with a mainstream audience. Taken 2 abandons this concept altogether, putting the daughter in the role of semi-savior, and opts to follow Liam and his ex-wife as they’re taken captive by the father of one of the men killed during the original film. This plot would be okay, but it puts Liam in a position of having to not only save the day, but also having to explain how to save the day to his daughter, and the film unravels into unplanned hilarity due to an unbelievability weak script. Even Neeson’s key scene from the original, in which he explains to his daughter the steps needed to be taken, is more parodied than built upon as the sequel finds Neeson repeating this scene at least FOUR separate times. One moment in particular, in which Neeson is attempting to help his wife early on, lasted so long the audience in my particular screening drowned out the end of the scene with laughter.
Outside of having a poorly conceived plot riddled with bad dialogue, Taken 2 is also a nauseating experience from a cinematography standpoint. Director Olivier Megaton has opted to use extensive quick cuts and shaky camera work over cleaner wide angles in what I can only imagine is an attempt to make things look more “edgy.” If so, Megaton missed his mark by a county mile as the majority of the film’s key moments play out like jumbled sequences of color and light. There is not a moment of tension to be found, and for the amount of bullets fired in this film that is truly a shame.
Some will argue that you cannot judge a sequel solely based on the marks set by the original, but in a situation where the original cast in entirely back on board it’s hard to think otherwise. When placed side-by-side, Taken 2 is to Taken, as Spider-Man is to Spider-Man 3. Liam Neeson may not be dancing down the street rocking emo bangs, but he is causing a ruckus throughout the streets of Istanbul while having his daughter randomly set off grenades to help pinpoint his location. Seriously. That happens. More than once.
It’s been three days since I sat through this disgrace to action films, and it will be a lot longer before I shake the memory of its countless acts of cinematic silliness from my mind.
Skip Taken 2 this weekend. Hell, forget it even exists.
Review written by: James Shotwell (Twitter)