Director: Olivier Megaton
Cast: Liam Neeson, Maggie Grace, Famke Janssen, Rade Sherbedgia
Plot: Bryan Mills killed a lot of people in order to rescue his daughter from human traffickers in Paris. Now the families of those people want revenge. But he's just not the person they should mess with.
Review: The first Taken was a runaway hit for Liam Neeson. He's usually not someone you'd associate with action films, at least before he made that film. Taken was simplistic and brutal, and even when it defied logic many times, it was just too much fun to not enjoy.
So writers Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen made a sequel, even though it clearly wasn't necessary to do so. In anyone else's hands, it would have just been a mindless rehash of what came before. On the surface it looked like that. But a closer look and it's quite noticeable that Besson and Kamen took their time to tell a meaningful tale which involves love for one's family.
See, Bryan is simply a guy who is trying to reconnect with his daughter and ex-wife, and even though things have improved since the time before the former was kidnapped, there are still issues to work out. On the flipside, Murad, the father of the man Bryan tortured and killed wants retribution. His son may have been a scumbag, kidnapping women for sale and all, but it doesn't change the fact that he wants blood for blood. And thus the cycle of violence continues.
So Bryan is back to doing what he does best: kicking ass and taking names. What's different this time around is Maggie Grace getting a shot at saving her dad, which is a nice turnaround. Neeson still gets to do all the killing though. Rade Sherbedgia, well known for playing villains from Russia or Eastern Europe, is good as Murad, someone who isn't just a bad guy for the sake of being a bad guy, but a guy who wants revenge, and somewhat deserving just a bit of the audience's sympathy.
Action wise, Olivier Megaton does alright, though he hasn't quite learned how to film fistfights properly. I've always felt that Megaton has some cool ideas, but doesn't quite pull it off well. Transporter 3 and Colombiana could have been more but fell short, and this one's just like those. There's a memorable car chase sequence here and some well staged shootouts, but it doesn't match the intensity of its predecessor.
Taken 2 is entertaining enough as an actioner, but not quite as good as the first. If Besson wants to make 3, I suggest getting Bryan's three CIA friends in on the action. Now that's something I want to see. (3.5/5)