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Taken 2

Taken 2

Released 4 October 2012
Director Olivier Megaton

Liam Neeson, Maggie Grace, Famke Janssen, Leland Orser, Jon Gries, D.B. Sweeney

Luc Besson, Robert Mark Kamen
Producer(s) Luc Besson
Origin France
Running Time 91 minutes
Genre Action, crime, drama
Rating 12A

Taken too far.

The original Taken introduced audiences around the world to Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson), a retired CIA agent with an estranged family and a “very special set of skills”. When his daughter was kidnapped by human traffickers, these audiences were treated to one of the best action films in recent years as Mills did anything and everything it took to get his daughter back.

Taken 2 sees the father of one of these human traffickers come after Mills’ family during a trip to Istanbul, seeking revenge for the death of his son. After an overly dragged out thirty minutes of exposition, it is up to Mills to once again save the people he loves, resulting in an hour of fairly ho-hum action.

Taken 2 lacks the two main factors which made Taken so engaging, and hence so popular. The first was the setting within the realistic world of human trafficking, which raised the stakes so high because it all seemed totally plausible. By the time the audience realised what Mills’ special set of skills actually entailed, the tone had shifted to the second, possibly even greater, source of tension:  the question of how far Mills was willing to go to get his daughter back. In contrast Taken 2 has almost no grounding in reality beyond, “angry guys want revenge”, and any unsettling scenes of a desperate father torturing a man for information have been replaced with badly handled attempts at humour.

While Taken 2 does have a few standout a moments, including a well shot car chase through the streets of Istanbul, Taken 2 is a very forgettable film – a mindless thriller which does little more than go through the motions. Its plot, character development (or lack of) and action all seem like little more than a footnote to the first film.

Perhaps the change of director from Pierre Morel to Olivier Megaton (Transporter 3) is to blame for these problems. Megaton seems far too reliant on other people’s ideas as opposed to his own. He fails to make the script feel like anything other than a needless cash-in on a well-regarded character. But what annoyed me most about Taken 2 is the fact that it borrows a couple of key pieces of music from the soundtrack of Nicholas Winding Refn’s Drive, as well as a key location from the finale of Ton Tywker’s The International. Both of these are much better films than Taken 2, and any nods in their direction only reminded me of this fact.

Writer and producer Luc Besson has stated that he does not intend to make any more sequels to Taken, but Taken 2 already feels like one sequel too many.

- Bernard O’Rourke